Spectroscopy Market Continues to Grow

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In a recent article, Lawrence S. Schmid, of Strategic Directions International, Inc., analyzed the current state of the spectroscopy market. Here are a few highlights.

In a recent article, Lawrence S. Schmid, of Strategic Directions International, Inc., analyzed the current state of the spectroscopy market. Here are a few highlights.

Following an outstanding year in 2011, the landscape looks promising for a continuation of strong sales of spectroscopy instruments, albeit at a slightly lower level. As usual, mass spectrometry will be the pacesetter, followed closely by atomic spectroscopy. Molecular spectroscopy will likely cool off somewhat as the result of played out stimulus programs, especially for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Spectroscopy is a key sector of the analytical and life science instrument industry. For many years, the instrument industry in general and the spectroscopy segment in particular have proven quite resilient while serving the scientific requirements for a vast array of applications in every conceivable industry. Growth has been fairly steady for the last decade, averaging around 6% annually. Compared to the double-digit growth seen in the 1980s and 1990s, our industry is expanding at a lower, but fairly stable rate.

The broader economic situation last year did not seem very robust to most observers, and the outlook for this year seems a bit on the downside. In January 2012, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a warning on the debt crisis and cut its global forecast. It predicted that the global economy would expand only 3.3% in 2012, down from 3.8% last year, even though as recently as September 2011 the IMF had forecasted global growth at 4%. The continuing demands of the life science marketplace, environmental concerns, the search for new materials, and security and defense concerns are important driving forces that tend to outweigh general economic trends. With these developments in mind, and after reviewing various industry data for 2011 and the prospects for 2012, Instrument Business Outlook (IBO), a publication of Strategic Directions International, Inc. (SDi), a consulting and market intelligence firm specializing in this market, has estimated the total worldwide market for analytical and life-science instrumentation revenues at over $44 billion for 2011, an increase of over 7% from 2010, a year that also experienced a strong growth spurt from a depressed 2009. SDi now forecasts that the analytical and life-science instrument industry will continue its upward expansion in 2012 at a somewhat lower, but respectable rate of 5.5%. It is likely that the overall analytical and life-science instrument industry revenue growth will be in the range of 5–7% for the foreseeable future.

The overall spectroscopy market is estimated to have increased 7.7% in 2011, a substantial performance given the economic uncertainty that existed throughout the year. SDi projects that spectroscopy market growth in 2012 will be slightly less exuberant, but still robust at a rate of 6.2%, with the fastest-growing techniques hitting growth rates as high as 10–11%, and the slowest at 1–2%.


The molecular spectroscopy market is not completely immune to the effects of a slowly growing economy, and accordingly it should see its pace of growth drop from more than 7% in 2011 to less than 5% in 2012. All segments of the molecular spectroscopy market will see a decline in their pace of growth, although some more than others. However, every technology segment is still expected to see at least modest growth in demand in the year ahead. The continued expansion and acceptance of handheld instruments in a number of segments of the market will continue to be a primary driver of growth.

Spectroscopy is a general method for using a signal, generally based on a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, to identify samples. In the case of atomic spectroscopy, the information from the instrument typically provides the elemental composition of the sample. Depending on the particular technique, atomic spectroscopy instruments can measure elemental abundances in the percent range down to trace quantities at the level of parts per trillion or even parts per quadrillion. The total market demand for atomic spectroscopy expanded almost 8% over 2010, reaching $3.3 billion in 2011. This market is forecasted to grow at 6.3% for 2012, to reach $3.5 billion.

Despite a variety of negative macroeconomic factors that are expected to continue well into 2012, demand for MS is still expected to see high single-digit growth for the year, which is only modestly lower than the pace in 2011. The large installed bases combined with continued improvements in performance are the major factors helping to drive such robust growth. Unlike 2010, in which there was major consolidation in the MS market, there was little in the way of merger and acquisition activity in 2011. The MS market is predicted to grow slightly over 8% in 2012, only a bit slower than its 9% growth in 2011, and approach $3.1 billion in revenues.

Click here to read the full article by Lawrence S. Schmid, Bright Outlook for Continued Spectroscopy Market Growth.