Agency Rankings and Ratings 2010

The 2010 Asia Research Buyer Survey again assessed client awareness and use of the individual agencies.  The only markets where there was a sufficiently large sample size for analysis included Singapore and Malaysia.

In both markets Nielsen, Synovate, and the TNS/RI have around 90%+ awareness with Nielsen achieving universal awareness almost like a household name.  In terms of usage, these companies also lead but notably the merger of TNS and Research International, that last year was expected to give them highest overall market penetration, has not resulted in them taking market lead.

Millward Brown, GfK and IPSOS have much lower market penetration simply because they focus on fewer client sectors, predominantly those in the consumer space.  Some of the independent firms, such as Kadence International and Added Value Saffron Hill have some of the widest repertoire of clients even surpassing the larger, more established agencies like GfK and Acorn.

New to this year’s survey was an dontevaluation of the agencies’ standings based on client opinion of their strengths and weaknesses.  Analysis of clients’ open-ended feedback on the agencies was put into a numeric score of positive and negative comments.  Some clients might mention several perceived strengths and weaknesses and this was put into a score from 0 (no or neutral impression) to 1, 2, or 3 depending on the strength and breadth of endorsement or criticism.

The overall balance of positive and negative comments about the multi-national agencies shows most to have a net positive impression.  A similar picture was evident with the independent agencies.  Some positive feedback included:

“They were able to give us a strong team who I found very capable and experienced, they were able to give us sound and functionable advices, the analysis of the findings were practical and relevant to our needs.”

 “The team is very experienced. They are able to recommend appropriate methodology to meet our needs.”

“The report is always on time and good quality, data presented clearly and in smooth flow – very user friendly, also when extra work is needed they always accommodate with no extra charge.”

“The project manager is knowledgeable. Even though he is new in our industry and yet he is able to pick up our business model and work flow quickly.”

 “They are professional in all areas, having good infrastructure in all countries”

The results though highlight several disparities between markets with TNS / RI having less positive impression in Malaysia compared to Singapore.  Synovate, who had a dismal performance in the employee survey (see Q1, 2010 edition of Asia Research) rated far better from the client perspective.  Less positive comments about the MNC agencies included the following:

“One of the leading research companies, but many changes in the company, they lost a lot of good people.”

“They had been very flexible lately… But the director that serves us has left. We are concerned of the lack of senior leadership.”

 “They have a regional presence which is their only strong point to me, as for weaknesses it would be high turnover of staff hence no continuity of work and there is a lack of analysis; just a data collector instead of insight provider.”

 “They had good fieldwork quality before, but it lost its unique advantage when their Hong Kong fieldwork centre was disbanded last year.”

 “Run of the mill, though they have a dedicated team serving us it is still very weak in client servicing. They are slow and are not putting effort in building up knowledge and skill in executing our projects.”

“They are not very good at following-up. Boards of directors or seniors come for meeting, but throw to the juniors to run the show.”

“They have a reputation for under costing and a big turnaround in staff.”

The full data set on this survey is available on a commercial basis from Asia Research.  For details please email: surveys@asiaresearch.com.sg