AMSTERDAM: Global market research body ESOMAR says next year's Olympic Games in Beijing and elections in the US and France will increase revenue growth in the industry by up to 6%. Growth during 2006 reached 5% and MR globally was worth $2.68 billion (€1.98bn; £1.35bn), according to figures from media buying network GroupM.

ESOMAR's initial findings - for a report due September - show Latin America, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia showed the most dynamic growth last year as clients turned their attentions to countries with increasing consumer purchasing power.

The organisation's director general Veronique Jeannin anticipates the report will find more cross border work is being commissioned as clients look to research to deliver insight in increasingly fragmented and rapidly changing consumer sectors.

She comments: "Clients across various industry sectors tell us they are looking for new innovative techniques to deliver strategic insights and build on the strong base of established research solutions."

ESOMAR also notes that lower-priced online research is placing downward pressure on custom research pricing results.

Mergers and acquisitions activity continued in 2006 "but at a much slower rate than record breaking 2005".

Jeannin adds: "The primary reason for acquisitions in 2006 was buying in specialist expertise and products to increase competitive advantage. Followed by what appears to be the final stages of global expansion by the largest companies."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff