The Indian market research industry is at an inflexion point of a massive growth turn. India’s homegrown, domestic market research players are embracing tech to offer affordable on-demand market intelligence solutions.

India emerged as the BPO capital of the world in the1990s.

When American Express set up its Financial Resource Centre East in the northern Indian city of Gurugram (then Gurgaon), the global behemoth had little inkling it will be taking the first step toward an industry set to reach $8.8 billion in 2025.

The Indian BPO success story has spread far and wide. Competition from emerging Asian countries and rising protectionist sentiment notwithstanding, India continues to be the preferred destination for business process outsourcing.

The success of call center outsourcing to India got N. American and European executives thinking–what else can be done efficiently and affordably in India?

Soon, Indian talent was handling various aspects of business—from IT and accounting to recruitment and market research.

Market Research Outsourcing to India

The term Market Research Outsourcing (MRO) may not have grabbed the same limelight as BPO, but even in early 2000s, Indian consultants were powering the business strategy of world’s biggest companies.

By 2008, the market research outsourcing industry was worth $150 million, according to Times of India.

Initially, most of the big consulting firms outsourced secondary or ‘desk research’ to India.

The early MRO responsibility was limited to processing information obtained from market research surveys, doing a quick analysis, and generating reports based on the analysis.

However, over the years, complex marketing research projects were ably managed by India-based offshore market research companies.

The prowess, efficiency, and costing model led to the emergence of something bigger – emergence of homegrown, domestic market research companies that aspired to become the Big 4 of the consulting world.

The Growth Turn is Due to Disruptive Trends this Industry is Embracing

Many of today’s successful firms are helmed by veterans, who previously held leadership positions at the Big 4, large consultancies and  market research outsourcing companies.

BCC Research, MarketsandMarkets, Transparency Market Research are some homegrown market research and consulting firms, who have served the who’s who of Fortune 500.

“Within the first year of our operations, we had directly worked with 10% of Fortune 500. That was a huge confidence booster; we realized the quality of work was being appreciated and many of these companies have become our repeat clients over the past decade”, says Mr. Anurag Singh, MD & co-founder of Transparency Market Research.

Today, the tables have turned in a way as these homegrown market research companies have now appointed American and European C-suite executives to helm their international operations.

The path for these homegrown market research powerhouses has been seldom easy. They have had to face initial skepticism, considering market research is considered a highly critical aspect for any organization.

However, the industry has successfully overcome these challenges, and cemented long-lasting business relationships with global clients.

The prowess of India’s homegrown industry is such that many leading consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, LEK, PwC regularly engage Indian market research companies for carrying out some of their market research activities.

As was the case in India’s BPO boom, an abundant pool of skilled human resource, remains a key strength for India’s position in the market research industry.

The efficiency and consistent level of quality maintained by Indian companies has helped shed the image of a ‘low-cost’ to one that is ‘high-quality’.

The sustained efforts over the years has meant that today, Indian homegrown companies provide $2 trillion worth of consultancy to world’s leading enterprises.

COVID-19 impacted businesses all over the globe, and the global market research & consulting landscape was no different. According to research published in March 2020, COVID-19 reduced the size of the consulting industry by 19%.

However, the Indian market research and consulting firm remained resilient in the crisis. The agile business model, competitive pricing, and swift adaptability helped the industry keep the impact to minimum.

Not only did the industry absorb the shock of the global pandemic, but also came out of it stronger. The Indian market research and consulting industry was among those rare sectors that continued to hire even during the pandemic.

Tech Embracement by India’s Consulting Industry

The market research industry has been rather calculated in embracement of next-gen tech.

Cloud-based solutions—now considered ubiquitous in many industries—are yet to fully leveraged by the industry. Further, the concept of subscriptions, and pay-as-you-go has been adopted by only few players.

The traditional market research approach remains tedious, with one estimated by ESOMAR-certified firm Future Market Insights finding it takes an average of ten days for scope of the project to be finalized.

The high level of human involvement means that reaching a consensus between client and consulting firm remains a time-intensive activity.

As client expectations evolve, on-the-go access continues to become a key focus area.

However, a heartening development is that India’s homegrown market research companies have also taken the lead in this aspect.

Through cloud-based on-demand platforms, some of India’s homegrown market research companies are making it easier for clients to find the right insights.

The advantage with these platforms is they offer flexibility to clients, both in terms of pricing and access through the combination of human intuition and robotic precision.

For example, MarketNgage, a unified market intelligence engine powered by four homegrown market research companies—Transparency Market Research, Future Market Insights, Persistence Market Research, and Fact.MR—gives users the option to get an insights as low as $1.

“Flexibility is the key here; it has become the focal point for businesses. It has transferred power back to the user—today, readers don’t subscribe to entire magazine; if they like an op-ed which is behind a paywall, they simply pay for that one article. Similarly, music streaming apps now charge for downloading a song rather than a full subscription. You can expect a similar experience with MarketNgage —  actionable real time insights across the widest markets & products, in multi-formats beyond just the report, available as pay per use and cost saving rentals!”, says Aditi Basu, Chief Market Officer and Project Lead for MarketNgage.

On-demand Market Data and Intelligence is the Future

Clients today have become accustomed to accessing information as per their convenience. This behavior is not limited to their professional realm alone. The penetration of subscription-based apps, for entertainment, shopping, healthcare, education has created a familiarity that consumers expect in business world as well.

Advantages of Subscription-based, On-demand Market Intelligence Solution

  • On-demand market intelligence platforms leverage AI and machine learning to process real-time data. Clients benefit by getting latest updates in a quicker turnaround time
  • Market research software gives clients the power of quickly uncovering problems, reacting to them immediately, and eliminating them in a timely manner
  • Data representation through infographics, dynamic charts, and pivot tables helps in understanding insights easily
  • On-demand market data and intelligence provides clients complete flexibility so they pay for what they need. This means clients do not need to make heavy up-front investments, and wait for long durations for gaining access to insights
  • On-demand market intelligence gives clients real-time access to insights. This is especially useful in critical decision-making
  • On-demand market intelligence offers SMEs, academicians, and students to access insights at lower cost
  • On-demand market research solutions make it easier to integrate multiple sources of data, ensuring better alignment with business objectives and organizational context

 Conclusion

 Traditional market research solutions—although effective for many years—have been found to be lacking in today’s hyper-competitive era.

Businesses today need latest insights, and they need them quickly. Decades of development in AI, machine learning, and other data mining tools has now made it possible to leverage insights at speed, and present them over cloud.

As tech advancements gain further traction, on-demand market research subscriptions will become more ubiquitous. In the next edition of this blog, we will take a look at some of the leading market research platforms globally.

By Rahul Pandita

Rahul Pandita is the content marketing lead at Future Market Insights, an ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting firm. He has written extensively about evolving trends in the market research industry. You can connect with Rahul on LinkedIn.

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