Panel puts spotlight on brands

New market research company YouGovSiraj is to build a 75,000-strong consumer panel that will track the region's leading brands.

The online panel, one of the biggest in the Middle East and North Africa, will enable advertisers to track public perception, measuring factors such as value-for-money, quality and customer satisfaction.

The move follows the announcement that UK market research firm YouGov has bought out the Dubai-based marketing and research consultancy Siraj in a US$2.1 million deal. The new firm has already started to build the panel, which will be comprised of internet users from across the region.

Nadhim Zahawi, joint CEO and founder of YouGov, told Campaign: "We measure this daily, which picks up on the rhythm of advertising campaigns that are breaking. The idea is that we will do similar work here that we have been carrying out in the UK - establishing very large samples of people that we're able to forensically classify and create samples that suit client needs."

In the UK, YouGov tracks more than 1100 consumer-facing brands across 32 market sectors.

Nassim Ghrayeb, CEO of YouGovSiraj, said that a Middle East brand index would be introduced early next year.

"We believe that the best way to improve the quantitative offering in this marketplace is through online and the building of these panels so that we know exactly who it is we're talking to."

Bernd Rosenbichler, director of marketing for Audi Middle East, welcomed the formation of the consumer panel. "This could definitely be useful, because there is not that much research done in this region," he said.

"Research is very important when you're brand building. It's important to know what customers are thinking.

However, it does depend on the kind of people they are talking about - we, for example are a brand that sells premium goods and so I'd want to know if they will be talking to the right people."

Colin Farmer, regional account director at advertising Turn agency Impact BBDO Dubai, added: "Any additional insight research for the region that can help aid agencies in better brand planning is a welcomed tool.

"It is not only the current confidence in brands that agencies are after - international brands already have tracking systems in place. We need more information that can give us insights on trends and allow us to help drive future thinking."

YouGovSiraj plans to expand its presence in the GCC - a process that will start with the opening of an office in Saudi Arabia.

Ghrayeb said: "More than 60% of our revenues already come from there - but for Dubai-based clients - and so the idea is not to be just operationally there, but also to start actively servicing the booming Saudi industry."

Siraj was founded in 1999 to offer market research services to local and international clients. Their services range from customer and CSR related research, to predicting social and political trends.

YouGov has been in the Middle East since 2004 when, at the request of HSBC Middle East, it created a Middle East business confidence index.

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