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GfK SE (GfK Group)
Societas Europaea
Traded as FWB: GFK
Industry Market Research
Founded 1934 (1934)
Headquarters Nuremberg, Germany
Operations in 100+ countries
Key people
Matthias Hartmann (CEO), Debra A. Pruent (COO CE), Dr. Gerhard Hausruckinger (COO CC), and Pamela Knapp (CFO)
Revenue €1.5 Billion (2012)
€52.4 million (2012)
Website .com.gfkwww

The GfK SE, established in 1934 as Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (Society for Consumer Research) is Nielsen Company, Kantar Group and Ipsos. It was founded by an association of university teachers, among them Ludwig Erhard, later Minister for Economics and Chancellor of Germany.

In April 2005 it acquired NOP World, based mostly in the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy, which was rated the ninth largest market research business in the world, a move described by the company as "the most important decision made by GfK since going public in 1999".[1]

In May 2008 it acquired an equity stake in Deep-Packet Inspection company Qosmos in order to track and monitor Internet usage for marketing research.[2]

In December 2011, GfK acquired Knowledge Networks, based in Palo Alto, California the United States, which does online research for consumer products and services, pharmaceuticals, retail, media, and public policy. KN's Dimestore platform offers unique platform for measuring the effectiveness of digital ad campaign with simple surveys of streaming video ads, that allows real-time reporting also.


  • Services 1
  • History by geographic region 2
    • Germany 2.1
    • Western and Southern Europe 2.2
    • Central and Eastern Europe 2.3
    • Asia and Pacific 2.4
    • United States and North America 2.5
      • Custom research in North America 2.5.1
      • Retail and technology in North America 2.5.2
      • Media in North America 2.5.3
      • Health care in North America 2.5.4
  • Financial performance 3
  • Notes 4
  • External links 5


The GfK Group is an international market research organization providing services in the three sectors Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The company's headquarters are in Nuremberg, Germany. GfK is a joint stock company and traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It is included in the SDAX index. The Group has a staff complement of 10,000+ employees and their market research services cover more than 100 countries across the world. The company signs off using the slogan "Growth from Knowledge".

GfK offers information and consulting services in three sectors to companies in the consumer goods and pharmaceuticals industry, retail, media and the service sector: product policy, logistics and sales, and marketing and advertising.

GfK Custom Research: The Custom Research sector specializes in operational and strategic marketing issues. The sources of information for the Custom Research sector are specific target groups of consumers and the medical profession.

GfK Retail and Technology: Retailer POS data is the source for the Retail and Technology sector. The sector supplies clients with information and consulting services based on retail data from continuous surveys and analyses of sales of technical consumer goods and services in the retail sector in more than 80 countries worldwide. With the global production and reporting system StarTrack, processing and delivery follows universal standards; clients can access the resulting market information online. GfK Retail and Technology has also developed an index to track technical consumer goods markets in more than 30 countries worldwide called GfK TEMAX (Technical Market Index).

Media: The Media Sector delivers information services on range, intensity and nature of media usage and acceptance in more than 20 countries in Europe and the USA. The data source for the Media sector stems from the media (point of media). The services are directed at clients from media companies, agencies and the branded goods industry. The range of available services includes continuous, as well as special one-off studies and analyses. The data sources for the Media sector come from TV, radio, print, outdoor advertising and online.

History by geographic region


The castle in the center of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, known to many simply as the Schloss, where GfK SE was established in 1934

GfK is Germany’s oldest market research company, established in 1934 at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. In 1936, GfK SE conducted the country’s first brand study, on the cross logo of pharmaceutical company Bayer, and a year later it published the first German purchasing power figures, which are now also produced for the rest of Europe and overseas. In the mid-1950s, GfK joined the European frontrunners when it adopted consumer panel research after the research methodology first developed in the United States. It also began expanding its international network at an early stage, and in 1960 GfK SE co-founded the Europanel, which, together with British partner Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), conducts continuous studies of consumer purchasing patterns in 26 European countries. The GfK consumer climate study, launched in Germany during 1983, now covers Britain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and a series of central and eastern European countries. In 1985, GfK began producing German television ratings, first for state-owned broadcasters and later for the Television Research Partnership (AGF). During September 2005 GfK SE was a sponsor for the “Du bist Deutschland” (You are Germany) advertising campaign, the country's largest multimedia initiative to date, aimed at enhancing Germany’s image. Today, GfK SE has a market share of over 25 percent. Germany continues to account for the largest share of GfK’s annual sales.

GfK GeoMarketing provides Geo (marketing) services, including business mapping software (RegioGraph), digital maps, market data and consultancy services. The company's products and services include from the analysis and visualization of company and market data, and identification of areas of untapped potential for the creation of more efficient sales territories and catchment areas.

Western and Southern Europe

GfK SE began its international expansion into western and southern Europe during 1960 by establishing a subsidiary in Austria. In the late 1970s, GfK set up further companies in the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. GfK’s Retail and Technology and Media divisions are the regional market leaders, with continuous television and radio audience research contracts in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The electronic measuring technology used in this type of media research was developed by GfK subsidiary Telecontrol, while GfK Eurisko has also created a similar audience measurement tool for measuring radio audiences electronically.

Central and Eastern Europe

GfK was among the first market research companies to move into central and Eastern Europe. The Group opened its first office in the region before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, in the form of GfK Hungária. This was only the second foreign-owned company of any kind to be established in Hungary, and was followed in rapid succession by GfK Polonia in Warsaw, GfK Praha in the Czech Republic and GfK Rus in Russia. The region now comprises twenty companies in sixteen countries. As of 2006, GfK is the largest market research company in Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine; the second largest in Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, the Czech Republic and Turkey; and ranks third or fourth in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland, Serbia and Hungary. In 2005, the newly established GfK Kazakhistan launched its Custom Research and Consumer Tracking operations. That same year Russia’s consumer protection association granted an award to GfK Rus for its outstanding contribution to the creation of a modern consumer market. During January 2005, GfK Belgrade received the Coca-Cola Company’s Strategic Consumer Insights award for excellence in marketing consultancy. Of GfK's total sales for 2005, roughly 5.6 percent came from this region.[3] In 2007, GfK Group acquired a 51% majority shareholding in Macedonia’s biggest market research agency, Stratum Research, now trading as GfK Skopje in Macedonia.

Asia and Pacific

The GfK Group has been active in Asia-Pacific for more than 25 years, starting in Japan, where it acquired its first minority interest in 1985. It now has subsidiaries in nearly all of the region’s key economies, including Australia and New Zealand. In 2005, GfK had subsidiaries in 15 countries and although GfK was only active in the Retail and Technology division until 2005, it was already the region’s fifth largest market research company. In 2005, GfK launched its Healthcare business in Asia in the form of subsidiaries in Singapore, Hong Kong (acquired SoHealthAsia in August 2005) and Thailand, as well as the former NOP World company, GfK Healthcare, in China. GfK Marketing Services China held its first client conference in Shanghai, on the theme of convergence and digitalization. This was attended by some 250 representatives of over fifty Chinese and international retailers and manufacturers. In November 2007 GfK Group acquired the optics panel from The Nielsen Company in Japan. In 2008, GfK Asia tracked the broader Asian optics industry which includes contact lens, ophthalmic lens, spectacles frames and sunglasses. GfK also operates in India (in partnership with the Nielsen Company), Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

United States and North America

The GfK Group in the United States made its flotation in September 1999. In the same year, GfK Custom Research became the Group’s first U.S. research company. This was followed in 2003 by V2 GfK and a year later by GfK Arbor. GfK's U.S. group acquired of NOP World in April 2005, including the Roper Poll brand. All of the company's divisions except Consumer Tracking now operate in the United States, and GfK SE is the eighth-largest company in the sector. U.S. revenue in 2005 was $316.3 million, up 3.9% from 2004. In 2005, 72.8 percent of total worldwide revenue was from outside the U.S. Roughly 22.1 percent of total sales came from the U.S., and roughly 25.3 percent of the company's income for the year. In January 2009, GfK Audits & Surveys acquired The Nielsen Company's contact lens panel and expanded tracking to include Optics in America.

Custom research in North America

In 2007, the US-based GfK custom research companies GfK Arbor, GfK Custom Research, GfK NOP and GfK Automotive were unified under the GfK Custom Research North America brand.

Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is a market research and consulting firm providing access to consumer databases as well as ad-hoc research services. Its sector specific teams cover the consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, B2B, technology and media and communications industries. Additionally, the firm provides brand health monitoring, brand tracking, concept testing, volume forecasting, customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement, mystery shopping, qualitative and ethnographic research, global and US consumer trends consulting (leveraging the GfK Roper Reports databases), omnibus services, in-mall research delivered through Friedman Marketing Services, online research, public affairs and public opinion polling (including the AP-GfK Poll), and strategic innovation and new product development consulting.

Additionally, GfK serves clients in Canada through GfK Research Dynamics.

Retail and technology in North America

GfK Boutique Research Inc., headquartered in Boston, MA, (with offices in New York, London, and Hong Kong) is a ‘Big Data’ analytics firm. GfK Boutique is the publisher of GfK OvernightNews, and produces forecasts for sales of technology devices based on GfK point-of-sale-data and external data sets.

GfK Retail & Technology USA LLC, produces point-of-sale data from retailers, specialists, and other resellers in certain verticals such as Pet (pet food and health products) and Optics (eyewear products). GfK RT USA also conducts a number of field (in-store) programs. GfK RT USA is based in New York, and was formerly known as GfK Audits & Surveys, which was purchased by GfK in 2005.

Media in North America

Mediamark Research offers comprehensive demographic, lifestyle, product usage and exposure to all forms of advertising media collected from a single sample. As a U.S. supplier of multimedia audience research, the firm provides information to magazines, television, radio, Internet and other media, leading national advertisers and more than 450 advertising agencies, including 90 of the top 100 agencies in the U.S.

Health care in North America

The GfK U.S. Healthcare, comprises three healthcare marketing research agencies: GfK Market Measures, GfK Strategic Marketing and GfK V2. Each of the firms has its own set of core offerings in customer and syndicated marketing research.

  • GfK Market Measures provides a mix of syndicated and custom marketing research services, supporting market assessment, brand tracking, message effectiveness, sales force effectiveness, healthcare consumer and product launch applications. The firm provides pricing, forecasting, positioning, concept testing, message development, promotional effectiveness evaluation and opportunity assessment.
  • GfK Strategic Marketing, provides quantitative services, supports clients in areas such as pricing, forecasting, clinical trial optimization and market segmentation. Key products include Uniter, Hospital Uniter and Perceptual Deficit Simulator. The firm’s Qualitative Institute uses qualitative research methodologies including cross-cultural projective and elective techniques.
  • GfK V2 conducts qualitative marketing research with patients and physicians, as well as conducting advanced analytics and quantitative research. Products include Information Architecture (product positioning), Competitive Analysis of Strategy and Tactics – CAST (war gaming), Market Analysis of Patients and Products – MAPPs (patient flow and treatment maps) and PracticeView (strategic account management).[4]

Financial performance

Together with the former NOP World companies consolidated since June 1, 2005, GfK achieved sales in excess of 937 million euros, representing growth of 40 percent. At more than 125 million euros, income was up by over 50 percent compared to 2004. Worldwide revenue of GfK SE in 2005 was $1.31 billion, including the NOP World companies for January 1 through December 31, 2005. In 2010, the company was the fourth-largest market research company by revenue.[5]


  1. ^ GfK SE, 'To Our Shareholders and Business Partners', Annual Report 2005
  2. ^ "GfK Invests in new technology"
  3. ^ GfK Group Annual Report 2005, Section 4.4 Regional Assessment
  4. ^ Jack Honomichl, HONOMICHL Top 50, Marketing News, H19 - H20, June 15, 2006
  5. ^$187bn-says-honomichl/4008168.article

External links

  • GfK Group
  • GfK Insights Blog
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