Harris Interactive has a high opinion of polling data. The company is a leading market research and opinion polling firm best known for its Harris Poll, which takes the pulse of public opinion on various topics each week. Harris conducts its market research and polling primarily through an Internet panel consisting of millions of people from around the world. It offers research services to about 1,400 clients in such industries as consumer goods, financial services, health care, transportation, and technology; its Harris Interactive Service Bureau provides market research services to other market research firms. Harris traces its roots back to 1956, with the founding of Louis Harris & Associates.
Harris Interactive's revenue decreased by 8% and net income decreased by 34% in 2012 compared to 2011. The decrease in revenue was due to less revenue generated from North American and Europe. The North American revenue decreased due to a decline in bookings at US operations, the loss of a large project, and declines in bookings for its Canadian service bureau during fiscal 2012. The Europe revenue decreased due to the impact of UK restructuring activities. The decrease in net income was due to decline in net revenue and cost associated to restructuring.
Restructuring activities in 2011 and 2012, designed to respond to decreases in revenues and negative income, included cutting about 150 jobs and reducing occupancy of leased office space at its Rochester, New York; Princeton, New Jersey; Reston, Virginia; Brentford, UK; and Ottawa, Canada facilities. The company also closed its Asian operations, and sold its UK telephone data collection center.
The company has embraced the Internet as the future of market research, secure in the knowledge that the speed, value, versatility, and accuracy of online research have remade the market research landscape. Although Harris is intent on building its online research operations, it has not abandoned more traditional market research tools such as telephone interviewing and face-to-face surveys.
The company also has the ability to reach hard-to-find specialized demographic segments. It maintains a number of branded sub-panels, such as Affluent, Chronic Illness, Mothers and Expectant Mothers, Physicians, Pet Companion, Technology Decision-Makers, and Youth, among others.
Harris Interactive gathers its own polling information within the US and Canada, but it relies on alliances with other market research firms to help it collect data outside those regions. In particular, Harris Interactive outsources telephone data collection and survey programming services in Costa Rica and India.
In 2011 the company sold or closed telephone centers in the UK, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore.
Famous corporate investor Vincent Bolloré owns 14% of Harris Interactive through Financière de Sainte-Marine.