About us

ESOMAR is the global voice of the data, research and insights community.
A truly global association since 1947.

ESOMAR is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the value of market, opinion and social research and data analytics. We’ve been providing ethical and professional guidance and advocating on behalf of our global membership community for 70 years.

Learn more about the data, research and insights industry – a more in-depth introduction

What is market research

Market research – the fundamental basis of the data and insights profession - is about listening and understanding people’s views, and interpreting this information to guide brands, organisations or governments when making decisions.

From the everyday products you use, the films you watch in the cinema, the food you eat, to governmental policies, humanitarian causes – research has played a key role in the journey from concept to you.

It is about analysing and interpreting (the right) data to build information and knowledge that can be used to predict future events, actions or behaviours. This is where the real skill of our profession lies.

Insights enable people all over the world to understand and interpret the increasingly complex world we live in.

Learn more about data, research and insights – a more in-depth introduction

Official definition from the ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market, Opinion and Social Research and Data Analytics:

Research which includes all forms of market, opinion and social research and data analytics, is the systematic gathering and interpretation of information about individuals and organisations. It uses the statistical and analytical methods and techniques of the applied social, behavioural and data sciences to generate insights and support decision-making by providers of goods and services, governments, non-profit organisations and the general public.

Success stories

Working within the insights profession requires creativity, imagination, thinking outside the box…and sometimes courage!

The insights profession has a huge impact on your day-to-day life. From the products you love, to the services you use, to laws set to improve our lives. Everyday data, research and insights organisations carry out work that leads to those ‘Eureka’ moments, those moments that can make a difference in the world. To truly understand the work of our profession, we have collected those ‘ah-ha’ moments from those working in the industry. Discover what research commissioners are learning about the world around them and the impact it’s had on their organisations.

Industry overview by Finn Raben,
ESOMAR Director General

Our profession can trace its roots back over 300 years, when the missionaries undertook ethnographical studies of the native tribes they encountered. Wide-scale commercialisation of the profession started very early in the 1900’s, with the advent of radio and the need to assess the impact of advertising. ESOMAR itself was founded immediately post WWII, in 1947, when a group of visionary researchers – fully cognisant of the extreme challenge of bringing a divided world back together – decided to establish an international professional community, united by a common desire to work to agreed professional standards and a Code of Conduct.

Nowadays, the research profession represents a $70 Billion sector – bigger than the worldwide Wi-Fi or online music industry. The “western” or developed world accounts for the main share of the sector (North America represents 44% of the worldwide market, and Europe 37%), although of the top five markets globally, China is now placed 5th – having recently overtaken Japan.

This profession is one which encompasses psychology, anthropology, sociology, econometrics and statistics; it employs neuroscience, biometrics, mathematics, statistical models, ethnography and semiotics, and it is a profession which is now embracing advanced analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automated processes and predictive modelling.

At its heart however, the profession’s philosophy is “How can I help?” If you think back over the last great innovations that we have seen….mobile phones, hybrid cars, HIV drugs, bio-genetics, ATM’s…all were conceived, tested and made launch-ready with the benefit of research and insight; indeed, even movie endings can now be tested and adapted based on audience research. While much publicity may be generated by just one poll (irrespective of whether its right or wrong!), so little publicity is generated for many of these amazing innovations during the assessment phase(s)….and yet, none would be available today without the guidance of research and insights.

Show me a researcher and I will show you someone who gets no greater joy from providing an insight that helps to solve a challenge, and who gets no greater satisfaction in seeing that insight translated into effective action.

Looking for a great researcher, and a great intelligence partner? Look for an ESOMAR member!

Learn more about the data, research and insights industry – a more in-depth introduction

Finn Raben
550+ companies
130+ countries
91 local representatives
6,000+ members
40,000+ professionals