What are Ipsos MENA’s major milestones over the past 25 years?
Local market research and media company Stat was born in Lebanon in 1988, amid war and turmoil. The purpose was simple: To help clients build their marketing business plan in line with their consumers’ needs and expectations – to allow them to reach the field itself and listen to consumers.
Starting with a team of just two, Stat began its expansion after joining Ipsos Group and became Ipsos MENA, with the ambition to establish an Ipsos company and identity across Middle East and North African countries.
Today, Ipsos MENA is the No.1 research company in the region, covering more than 20 countries with 950 expert employees. We, as key regional players, have conducted more than 15 million interviews and served more than 5,000 clients.
For 25 years, Ipsos MENA pioneered the launch of many exclusive services in the region, such as the first professional media software planning, Poppy; the first online mystery shopping platform; Shoppy; the biggest online panel in MENA, Ipsos IIS; the first passive radio audience measurement panel, MediaCell in the UAE; and many more.
What factors contributed to the group’s expansion in the region?
Some are internal, others are external. Twenty five years ago, only a few research companies were operating in the region and the services provided were limited. Market and consumer data were not available.
Ipsos MENA (Stat Ipsos at the time) introduced many services in the region to fill the gap. Our deep knowledge of the local Arab market, developed gradually throughout 25 years, also contributed heavily to our success, as did our dedicated team members, loyal clients and the general public, who had faith in us and took part in our studies.
How has marketing and market research evolved in the region?
In 2000, the estimated market research investment in the region was extremely low, at approximately $65 million. Since then, the market has grown between 15 to 20 percent annually – one of the highest rates in the world.
Although estimated at $280 million last year, the volume of research is still low, even when compared with other emerging countries, where higher prices are paid for research projects. In many cases, the real value of research is underestimated and the number of research projects commissioned by certain sectors, such as government, are limited.
Research companies need to develop their capabilities, mainly in terms of quality and include more trainings and workshops with the clients.
Setting up a marketing research society for self-regulation and promotion should also be considered. Improvement depends on the development of the market, complexity of the clients’ demands and how much they rely on and link their strategy to the research findings. Governments have an important part to play as well, by providing accurate census and facilitating data collection.
What are the challenges you’re facing?
The region has not been a smooth place to operate in, especially for the past few years. Political and security turmoil is a major challenge; however, we managed to overcome them by building a name that people identify with, so they feel safe when we reach out to them. In some cases, local regulations can disrupt field research, but we have managed to limit their impact.
Another challenge is people questioning our findings, as they don’t always suit all parties. We authorized several auditors to access our premises and monitor the work; this has improved our
credibility over the years.
How to best address the need for online and digital research?
Ipsos MENA has already taken the digital road through several tools and services, such as Ipsos Gemius (that measures online audience, giving a clearer view of the traffic on websites) and Ipsos IIS (Ipsos Interactive Services, the biggest online panel in the MENA region). Ipsos IIS combines the expertise of online access panels and online fieldwork studies management, with the aim to offer pioneering technological capabilities adhering to the best quality standards.
How has Ipsos MENA fared last year?
As for the previous years, Ipsos MENA has grown, by offering additional and innovative services, and winning several pitches on a regional level.
What are your plans in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
Ipsos has adopted the CSR initiative: “Taking Responsibility”. Most importantly, Ipsos was the first global market research company to join the United Nations Global Compact. Ipsos will be embracing, supporting and implementing principles that support the community, environment, human rights and good standards of labor.