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Despite a strong dollar that pared foreign returns of U.S. research companies, the 100 Leading Research Companies had stronger dollar growth abroad-up 11%-than in the U.S.

Although their non-U.S. take of $2.56 billion trails the $4.04 billion in the U.S. revenues, opportunities for growth abroad appear stronger than in the more concentrated U.S. market.

There is a definite movement abroad by U.S. companies. Researchers are moving into international markets where they are discovering their highly specialized services often fill a niche in the local market.

Growth abroad also is causing conflict-like the confrontation between Information Resources Inc. and ACNielsen Corp. at the European Union Commission in Brussels.


Europe also is affording niche space to Performance Research, a specialist in research support for sporting events; it is currently scouting London for its first international office.

This first overseas location is necessary to place Performance squarely in the path of future sporting events without compromising its modus operandi.

The company's staff exclusively works each venue because of the level of expertise needed for each event.

"As an interviewer at a PGA event, for example, you must be knowledgeable about golf and know its pressures and stresses," says VP Bill Doyle.

Companies wanting to tap the vast possibilities of sporting events outside the U.S. require geographical offices with a trained multicultural, multilingual staff-something subcontracting from the U.S. cannot do.

BAIGlobal ventured abroad in '96 to serve its U.S. clients. The payoff has been handsome; non-U.S. revenue in '96 hit $2.3 million.

"U.S. clients offer enormous opportunities overseas, with business decisions made here and carried out in other countries," says Kathleen Knight, president. BAIGlobal is preparing to set up its own facilities in Europe and Asia.


Nielsen and its former Dun & Bradstreet cousin, IMS, top the international rankings this year. Together, they claim two-thirds of total international revenues of the Top 100. IMS has pulled most of its revenues from international markets for years.

Founded in 1926 as an American research company, Nielsen is far stronger abroad than in the U.S. In 1996, its international side, weighing in at $1.1 billion, up 6.5% represented 79% of its take.

International business is a priority for relentless Nielsen competitor, Information Resources Inc. Founded in 1982, IRI is playing catchup to Nielsen's vast overseas operation. Establishing a beachhead is another matter.

IRI last year confronted Nielsen in Europe and the U.S., alleging unfair competitive practices. At the time it had a victory under its

Specialized services

belt-in Canada, where in '95 a government tribunal ruled Nielsen carried out anti-competitive acts.

IRI filed a similar action in '95 against Nielsen before the Commission of the European Union in Brussels. In response, Nielsen in December '95 said it would cease some of its sales and contractual practices with clients.

Two weeks ago, U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York dismissed a motion filed in `96 by IRI accusing Nielsen of monopolistic practices; IRI was given 60 days to prove seven other motions filed in the court against Nielsen.


Nielsen Chairman-CEO Nich-olas Trivisonno told Advertising Age, "The IRI suit is without merit. We haven't violated any antitrust laws."

IRI's international side grew 45% in '96, most all from additional business in Europe from Unilever, Henkel, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal and Danone.

"We have spent very heavily in Europe to get our operations going," explains Gian Fulgoni, IRI CEO.

Registering the biggest gain in non-U.S. returns for a company with a substantial presence already on the ground was BASES Group, up nearly 161% to $9.7 million in '96. It specializes in research project design forecasting.

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