The Research Industry Index (RII) – the Marketing Research Association's leading indicator of business activity in the U.S. marketing research industry – experienced the third straight quarter below the 100 mark (currently 97). While this represents a gradual improvement, scores are still below the improvements seen in the second half of 2010 – reaching the 100 mark for the first time since 2007.

RII is a composite score based on reported changes in multiple key business metrics (RFPs, projects and staffing levels), as well as changes in business owners’ perceptions of the health of their business. While the lower score this quarter is a disappointment, it is good news compared to two years ago, where the third quarter 2009 RII stood at 87.

Ken Roberts, PRC, MRA’s Chairman of the Board and author of the report states, “As we saw last quarter, it’s not so much that business continues to retract, but rather, there is minimal or no growth”.

Possibly indicating a more competitive bidding scene, only 29% of corporate researchers report an increase in RFPs, while 51% of suppliers report an increase in proposals. At the same time, there is an 8% net increase among corporate researchers in the number of suppliers they are working with.

Roberts notes than “smaller firms (under $1 million U.S. in revenue) continue to see a decrease in booked revenue, while medium to larger firms actually reported an increase in booked revenue”. 

This wave of the RII is based on online interviews that were conducted among 192 senior executives from both corporate researchers and marketing research firms via a survey hosted by IDE Associates. Reporting was completed by Cooper Roberts Research for the Marketing Research Association (MRA). For more information, visit