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Borderless Access in the Middle East – interview with Ejaz Mirza

Borderless Access in the Middle East – interview with Ejaz Mirza

Insight Middle East and Africa is delighted to speak to Ejaz Mirza, AVP – Client Development at Borderless Access, an online market research survey & panel company specializing in providing consumer insights in emerging and hard-to-reach markets across the world. 

About Borderless Access

Which services does Borderless Access offer to Middle East clients? What are the key priorities and goals for Borderless Access in the region?

We offer a variety of solutions to the MR industry primarily to market research agencies and consumer insight teams. The core of our solutions is online access to digitally engaged consumers relevant to brand decision making; so practically in today’s time we provide access to everyone in the Middle East.

Being a panel company we also provide community management solutions to our clients who manage their own named or blind communities. Our award winning technology behind the platform empowers our clients with continuous insights & reliable feedback to drive faster, smarter marketing actions.

We also offer insight and patterns into consumers’ interactions and their emotional & behavioural triggers within their environment. With one of our proprietary solution – TAPP, every life moment and behavioral change become data points for innovation for brands in a specific category. It is a hybrid consumer research methodology that provide brands contemporary opportunities to intervene in lives of people, who are digitally connected.

Apart from the set of offers, we do work a lot with MR industry by supporting them on various operational MR components such as programming, data processing and visualization of reports.

BA’s priority is to become a bridge between insight industry and real and hard to reach consumers & marketing decision makers using a digital platform and technology.

What is the vision for the future?

As the marketing and marketing research industry is evolving at breakneck speed, Borderless Access aims to be participate in the industry as a leader in providing digital market research solutions for collating & analysing life moments & experiences of hard-to-reach audiences, using best in class and latest methods of advanced Analytics & Technology. This is only feasible if an organization understands the digitally connected audience, is empowered to innovate on latest available technologies, platforms including mobile and social media and has deep understanding of market research protocols and guardrails. Borderless Access fits the bill perfectly.

Panels in the Middle East

Can you give an overview of panels in the Middle East?

We have a proprietary panels of 150,000+ and growing in UAE & Saudi Arabia. We are in process to identify our new markets very shortly which will give access to an unmatched capability for online and mobile panels in MEA.

How you do you recruit panel members? Which “opt-in for market research” processes do you follow?

Our recruitment methodology is an optimum mix of both online (by-invitation only) as well as offline methodology (largely to recruit C level executives / decision makers and low incidence groups).

Our recruitment sources are primarily banner advertisements on leading portals/ vertical websites including top ranked websites, global job portals, through referral programs search & content network, email campaigns and social networking sites. The sampling frame for online recruitment represents over 95% of the country’s online users.

We use ‘Triple-opt in’ with a multi-modal verification for recruitment. Where in the users confirm their email Id as of double opt-in process and then verify their mobile numbers via an OTP.

What is the survey invitation process? Which incentives do you offer to respondents?

Survey invitation is a multi-mode process, in which email survey invitation is the primary channel. Additionally our users, receive mobile app notification and desktop notifications for any new survey they are invited for. We can also send SMS invitation to our users on request.

All the incentives offered to our users is in points system. Our users accumulate these points and use them to redeem for cash or online vouchers from leading merchants or they can use them to participate in our Monthly Prize Draw to win big cash rewards.

Data quality has been a big topic in market research. How to ensure data quality in online research? What practices does Borderless Access follow?

As you rightly mention, data quality is a big concern in online market research and we at Borderless Access adhere to best of the practices in ensuring only legit consumers are recruited and they provide their honest opinion for our surveys. Job is half done when the recruitment of the panel is robust. There are so many learning that we apply to check the data that comes as response to the surveys. (Link to our whitepaper on quality).

Research Trends

What are the biggest changes that you see impacting the market research industry? Where is the industry headed in the next few years?

MR & Insight industry in ME is going through a change; be it budget based investment in MR to a zero cost based methods, rationalization of different tracking and continuous research. However, more radical transformation is happening on speed of data, use of multiple data sources of data and availability of alternative data sources for the ever changing demographics. Changing trends in marketing domain due to technology are most exciting trends impacting the industry today. I feel the MR industry will become specialist going forward in two directions either a very high-end consulting work or a completely tactical data driven solutions will be used. Midway path will fade away going forward and it will be driven by specialists in either domain.

How is technology disrupting and transforming market research?

Technology is enabling options to make the world a smaller, much accessible and exposed place for marketers. With so many options for researchers at the same time it also creates confusion for doing the same thing in so many different ways. Amount of information available through observation today that used to be taken with response and claims are also changing the dynamics. Technology is driving researchers to think on alternative and more agile methods than relying on the conventional wisdom. Researchers’ today need to be aware of all the options available and that to me is the key to continue doing great and relevant insight work.

Traditional data collection methods have dominated in the Middle East region. What are your views on online research? What advantages does online research offer to clients? Do you expect a faster take-up of online research in the next few years?

The expression “Progress without change” has often been used to describe the Middle East. However today Middle East has one of the highest penetrations of smart phones in the world. A research study conducted by Google, ranks UAE as no.1 in global smartphone penetration with 73.8% of mobile consumers.

We recently presented at ESOMAR MENAP and the theme was exactly on the same subject. Digital is now firmly a way of life in UAE and Saudi Arabia is not far behind. The rapid pace in digital adoption has been brought in by the progress in technology and as well as changing mindset of consumers. The battle for consumer attention and engagement has moved to smaller screen and these two biggest markets in Middle East are no exception.

How should agencies respond to changing client expectations?

Market research will continue to evolve as we shift toward creatively combining new data sources and creating models that are leading today to insights and practical applications. Market research should not be left behind and must adopt these advances in order to fend off the issues of declining responses and hard-to-reach demographics. By implementing the right technology with the changing times, we can begin moving towards a smoother market research approach that engages respondents and delivers insights. There is a huge opportunity to future proof MR agencies to become a true research partner to their customers by providing technologies such as fully digital-enabled surveys.

How does Borderless Access ensure it delivers value to clients?

At Borderless Access we take pride in developing systems and processes that work throughout all parts of the MR engagement we operate in, be it developing the high quality consumer panel to access consumers or to deliver an insightful products for understanding moments in consumer decision making. Borderless Access has invested in setting up best practices by understanding the markets thoroughly before scaling the operations and reach. This is how we add value to our clients; by investing in quality setup. Our quality certifications as ISO certified organization, state of the art technology, developing our own technology and being market relevant are the way we add value to our clients and industry per-se.

Ejaz Mirza is AVP – client development Middle East for Borderless Access. Having thoroughly grinded in market research for the last 17 years across India and Middle East & Africa helps him understand industry perspective in the region. One of the key tasks for him at Borderless Access is to align the offer the company develops to the suit the market. Before Borderless Access, he has worked in India and ME across brands like IMRB India, Cross-Tabs and TNS Dubai.

Ejaz has studied Economics, Stats during his Bachelors at AMU and has done major in marketing during his MBA from Institute for Technology and Management in India.