Nielsen in MENAP : Interview with Nick Papagregoriou
Victoria Zagorsky talks to Nick Papagregoriou, Managing Director at Nielsen Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.
Can you tell us about Nielsen in the Middle East and Africa region and your role in the company?
Nielsen has a long history in the region, since the early 1990s, and is in fact the first international market research agency to invest in the MENAP region.
From our Dubai regional hub we support our local operations in 13 markets from Pakistan to Morocco. Our Sub-Saharan & South Africa business is managed separately through a hub in Nairobi and this demonstrates our commitment to the future of Africa. Both regions mostly comprise developing markets so we work closely with our African colleagues to share knowledge and expertise to better support our clients. As a strategic partner to several global and regional brands, the company is providing insights into the diversity of MENAP’s consumers and markets, with deep expertise and understanding of both traditional and modern trade.
My role as leader of our MENAP business is to ensure we deliver on our client commitments, offering excellent client service and helping our clients to grow their business.
What are the particular challenges of conducting research in the Middle East and Africa region? How does the local market differ from the other countries where Nielsen operates?
The region is quite diverse – not only geographically but also culturally with varying degrees of development in research sophistication and market needs.
While we take these differences into consideration, there’s one important requirement which is common across the markets: we operate with the highest ethical and quality control standards, ensuring complete compliance to local laws and our Nielsen Code of Conduct.
These principles are vital in ensuring the highest possible accuracy in our client deliverables – in any market and any type of research.
The same principles of course apply across all of the 100+ countries where we operate.
What are the biggest changes that you see impacting the market research industry in the Middle East and Africa region? How will Nielsen be responding to these changes?
As the world becomes more connected with the internet and mobile technologies changing consumer behavior and the way companies conduct business, our industry needs to adapt accordingly.
So we at Nielsen are placing increasing emphasis in digital technologies and being able to collect consumer and market information faster and more accurately.
Nielsen’s recent acquisitions in digital-service companies such as Affinova and eXelate, and partnerships with ResponseTek and Adobe are proof of our focus in the digital transformation.
For MENAP specifically, we have already launched the Affinova suite of services in the Innovation area and we are launching soon the ResponseTek service in the Customer Experience area.
To what extent do you believe Big Data is changing the game, and is it a priority for Nielsen?
There is a great potential in Big Data and therefore, Big Data is definitely changing the game in a big way. But the future of measurement is not about choosing between panels and Big Data; instead, it’s about combining high-quality panels with highly granular Big Data sets to have the best of both worlds. We’re positioned incredibly well to leverage Big Data. The future of measurement is about combining our high-quality panels with highly granular big data sets to get the best of both worlds.
Do you see the shift in client expectations? How does Nielsen ensure it delivers value to clients?
Our clients are investing more and more in technology to drive their businesses, and we need to be in sync with them. They depend on our data every day, and they want insights on demand, accessible from any device. We are making this happen as we build on our relationships with other companies as mentioned before.
We are increasingly linking our information and insights offerings together to help our clients both measure their performance as well as improve their performance – wherever, however and whenever they want to access these information.
What are the goals and priorities for Nielsen in 2015?
As we are already at the end of Q1 we are progressing well on several product initiatives (new product launches mentioned earlier), and RMS enhancements across all 13 markets.
Our day-to-day focus remains around better understanding and meeting our client needs through the right solutions and insights.
What is your advice to young market researchers at the start of their careers?
My advice is based on my own 30+ years career and the lessons I’ve learned during various life experiences. It involves four key topics:
Education – A lifelong process. Embrace it as you can always learn more.
Comfort Zone – Get out of it even if it is painful.
Work & Luck – It is good to have both but hard work is always necessary.
Passion – Have your heart with it.
Nick Papagregoriou is the Managing Director at Nielsen Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.
Appointed to this role in 2013, Nick is responsible for leading Nielsen’s overall growth strategy across these geographies within Nielsen’s Africa and Middle East (AME) region.
Nick joined Nielsen in early 2011 following the company’s acquisition of MEMRB and co-led its integration into the organization. Throughout 2012, he served as Senior Vice President of Business Development in Nielsen Europe. Having started his career at MEMRB in 1986, Nick rose through the ranks to become CEO and spearheaded the business expansion from 18 countries to 32, covering the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. Nick holds an MBA and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Texas A&M University – Kingsville.