INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION SLOWS TO 7% GAIN: NIELSEN TOPS PACK WITH $1 BIL OUTSIDE U.S.

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National borders are fading into global computer screens across the full spectrum of research companies.

That assortment runs from poll-taker Opinion Research Corp. International and ACNielsen Corp., counter of sales data , to Edison Media Service, a small radio-oriented researcher that has helped a Budapest radio station obtain a private license in Hungary.

The survey of 100 Leading Research Companies shows worldwide research strong, up 10.1% compared with 9.9% in '96. The non-U.S. component was $2.7 billion, up 7%.

Biggest of the worldwide research companies, ACNielsen, draws three-fourths of its revenue outside the U.S. Non-U.S. revenue advanced to $1.08 billion for growth of only 0.9% in dollars, but actual growth was 8.5% when factoring out year-to-year fluctuations in local currencies, says President-CEO Nicholas Trivisonno.

Information Resources Inc., also a counter of retail sales, pushed non-U.S. revenue to $89.6 million, up 47.1%. IRI claims market shares in Western European countries ranging from 23% to 38%.

ORC, begun in 1938, established offices in Taiwan and Mexico City as it built non-U.S. revenues to $17.6 million, up 47%.

ROPER TARGETS HONG KONG

Roper Starch Worldwide, a public opinion and market research house, had non-U.S. revenue of $7.1 million, up 68%, as it opened offices in London and Hong Kong. Millward Brown International rang up $124.4 million in non-U.S. revenues, up nearly 19%.

FocusVision, originator of video focus groups in 1990 and now seeking global assignments, made its first $500,000 in non-U.S. revenue during 1997. Under a new name, FocusVision Worldwide Network, President John Houlahan has pushed FocusVision into 30 videoconferencing facilities abroad.

"Growth for focus group research is slow in the U.S.," he says, "but huge internationally."

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