CHICAGO: The 25 biggest global market research firms posted an increase in revenues of 3.9%, to a combined total of $18.9 billion (€13.3bn; £11.5bn), in 2008, but were not immune from the impact of the economic downturn during this period.

The Honomichl Global Top 25 – an annual assessment of the biggest companies in the MR industry published in conjunction with the American Marketing Association – reported that, accounting for inflation, revenue levels improved by just 0.6% year-on-year.

Furthermore, the study's author, Jack Honomichl, found that 12 of the organisations under review failed to improve their sales at a pace that kept up with the rate of inflation.

Moreover, the 17 market research providers that were publicly-listed recorded a cumulative decline of almost 37% in their market capitalisation in 2008.

Despite this, the top 25 players in this sector acquired 32 companies between them last year, with the vast majority of these purchases being focused around extending the reach of their international networks.

Nielsen was the top-ranked research firm in 2008, with revenues of $4.6bn, having recorded an uptick of 4.4% on an annual basis.

It was followed by The Kantar Group, part of WPP, with sales of $3.6bn, although this figure was greatly boosted by its alliance with TNS, which was purchased by the holding company last year

IMS Health saw its revenues improve by 1.2%, to $2.3bn, with GfK up by 5.5%, to $1.8bn, Ipsos by 7.8%, to $1.4bn, and Synovate by 2.3%, to $961m.

IRI, Westat, Arbitron and Intage made up the top ten, while Mediametrie and YouGov were the only new entries in the top 25 this year.

Data sourced from MR Web; additional content by WARC staff