The level of internalisation remains quite balanced across regions, ranging from 45% in Europe to 52% in Latin America. Unfortunately, observations from either the Middle East or Africa proved insufficient to extract a reliable estimation of their level of internal versus external research projects.
Perhaps the most striking shift can be observed in Asia Pacific, which has seen the share of internal projects grow from 41% in 2021, the lowest of all regions, to 50% in the 12 months leading to this study.
Conversely, North America has seen its ratio of project sourcing shift towards increased externalisation, moving from 42% in 2021 to 50% in 2023, despite half of all respondents in 2021 claiming that the share of internal projects was growing.
Europe and Latin America, however, continue with the same level of internalisation as in 2021. This, too, contrasts with the apparent expectation that both regions were going to increase project internalisation – particularly in Latin America where this forecast was shared by 2/3 of all respondents.
Despite fears of relentless internalisation of the insights function by teams of analysts within those companies that used to be considered “clients”, evidence points towards a more gradual evolution. Not everything is, or can, be internalised, and neither the future will bring the demise of project-based agencies in favour of a fully decentralised profession. Perhaps not complete internalisation, but other threats abound in an industry navigating fundamental shifts brought by AI, lower barriers of entry, and the need for more strategic guidance.
Discover more about where research is done in the Global Users & Buyers of Insights study.