Market Research Global Price Study 2014

Market research in focusAre you a frequent buyer of Market Research? Then you already know that prices often differ, not always logically – based on chosen country as well as chosen method and institute.

Good news is that the global industry market research association, ESOMAR*, every second year performs a Global Prices Study to provide insights into the pricing of research around the world. In particular the differences in pricing that exist between countries, between types of projects and over time. The research confirms that the gap between especially rich and developing countries is huge. The research also confirms the gap between different methods, where online is about 70% of the price of CATI, and CATI about 80% of Face to Face.

In short, the study is based on a set of dummy projects for which participating agencies prepare bids. The agencies taking part in the study represent over 33% of the total amount spent on surveys ad qualitative research. The data were collected between February and April, 2014.

The world of Market Research is a complex place

The study confirms that the world is a complex place. Not only do prices vary between one country and another, but the available research options also vary. Online access panels can reduce costs compared with face-to-face and CATI (telephone), but online research is not available in every market (and may not always be appropriate in each market, even if it is available).

Similarly, face-to-face is not widely available in every market either, particularly in the larger, more developed countries. For example, across Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines, 23 agencies quoted to conduct a straightforward U&A project as a face-to-face in-home test, but only two quoted to conduct it online. By contrast, across Australia, Canada and the USA, 28 agencies quoted to conduct the same project online, but only three quoted to conduct it face-to-face in-home.

Other complexities highlighted by the projects include differences in what the term ‘nationally representative’ means (more on this later in the report), different approaches to incentives and taxes, cultural rules about who can interview whom, and differences in whether services such as bank accounts even exist for some groups of potential research participants. 

Key results 2014 at a glance

  • Online is cheaper than CATI, which tends to be cheaper than face-to-face, when all three are on offer.
    • Online is about 70% the cost of CATI, and CATI is about 80% the cost of F2F, when all three are an option.
    • When looking at F2F, in-home is cheaper than CLT (central location testing) in about 70% of cases.
    • The cost savings for online focus groups compared with F2F groups are much less than the savings offered by online surveys.
  • The gap between the most expensive and the least expensive countries is huge.
    • On average, the most expensive country in the study will cost nearly nine times as much as the least expensive.
  • At the level of regions e.g. Europe, Latin America, there are a few difference in median prices
    • Because most regions contain high and low cost countries.
    • However, there are differences between sub-regions, for example between those countries that joined the EU before and after 2000
  • The most expensive markets (eg, the USA, Switzerland, France and the UK) tend to be countries that are rich, developed and with high costs of living.
    • The key markets tend to cost about twice as much as the global median.
  • The least expensive markets (eg, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Serbia and Bulgaria) tend to be less developed countries with lower per capita income.
  • The data from Japan suggest that a market that has moved heavily into online delivers lower costs for online but higher costs for other modes (but more cases are needed to determine whether this is a general pattern).
  • The data from Japan suggests that the market has moved heavily into online deliveers lower costs for online, but higher costs for other modes (but more cases are needed to determine whether this is the general pattern)
  • The development of mobile research appears uneven, with some of the more mobile responsive coming from advanced, intermediate and developing markets.
  • The study investigated what agencies understood by the term “nationally representative” and the results show that the term is interpreted in different ways by different agencies.


ESOMAR (The European Society for Opinion and Market Research) is a world association for market, social and opinion researchers. Today it has more than 5,000 members in over 130 countries. According to its mission statement, ESOMAR encourages, advances and elevates market research worldwide. Its stated goal is to promote the highest standards in market research for improving decision making in the public and private sectors, by:

  • safeguarding the interests of the Market, Social and Opinion Research industries globally
  • improving and promote international best practice
  • promoting the value of the industry to commerce and society

ESOMAR, in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce, has established a world-wide code of ethical practice, the ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research, for its members and actively advocates self-regulation by promoting industry standards. All individual members agree to abide by these standards and codes of ethical practice while conducting market research. Additionally, the Code has been adopted or endorsed by more than 65 the major national professional bodies around the world.


ESOMAR 2014 Global Prices Study

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