Sales: EUR 480.1 million ($476 million) (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Euronext Paris
Ticker Symbol: IPSO.7329
NAIC: 541910 Marketing Research and Public Opinion Polling
France’s Ipsos SA has climbed to the top ranks of the worldwide market research industry, claiming the number nine position worldwide. In certain categories, the company ranks even higher—number two worldwide in the advertising segment and number four worldwide in market research. Since 2001, Ipsos has also edged out French rival Sofres, part of Taylor Nelson Sofres, to claim the number one spot in France. Marketing Research accounts for the main source of Ipsos annual revenues, at 50 percent; the company is also active in Advertising and Media Research, which combined to add 33 percent to sales; Quality and Consumer Satisfaction Research, which represents 9 percent of sales; and Public Opinion and Social Research, adding 6 percent to the company’s 2001 revenues of EUR 480 million. Ipsos is an internationally operating company with a network of subsidiaries in North America, Latin America, and the Far East. The company’s European revenues accounted for 46 percent of Ipsos’ revenues; North America contributed 39 percent to the company’s total sales, while Latin America, particularly Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, where the company is present through its Novaction holding, contributed 12 percent. Since the beginning of the new century, Ipsos has also begun to focus on building up its position in the Asian Pacific region through acquisitions in Hong Kong and Australia. Much of Ipsos growth has come through a steady stream of acquisitions through the 1990s in a bid to assure its international presence and become a major contender in the market research industry. Having broken into the top 10 at the turn of the century, Ipsos intends to slow down on its external growth activities. Nonetheless, the company expects to pass the EUR 1 billion mark in sales by 2005. Ipsos, listed on the EURonext Paris Nouveau Marché exchange, is led by founder and co-president Didier Truchot and longtime friend and co-president Jean-Marc Rech. Major clients include Daimler-Chrysler, Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Danone, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
A Different Kind of Researcher in the 1970s
In the late 1960s, Didier Truchot joined France’s IFOP (L’Institute François d’Opinion Publique), which at the time was one of France’s oldest and largest research organizations, together with Sofres, which later formed part of the Tayler Nelson Sofres group. Truchot then became a director at the IRSEC Institute in the early 1970s. In 1975, Truchot left IRSEC to form his own market research company, Ipsos.
Truchot set out to build a different kind of research company, targeting the advertising and media fields. He began developing tools to enable advertising agencies and their clients, as well as print media and television and radio broadcasters, to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements—an approach to market research entirely new in France. In 1977, Ipsos released its first such tool, dubbed the Barametre d’Affichage (BAF), an instrument for measuring the effectiveness of billboard advertisements. The first of the company’s “post-tests,” the BAF was soon followed by other post-campaign measurement instruments developed by Ipsos to target specific media categories. Such measurements quickly became standard practice in the French media industry.
In 1979, Ipsos launched another innovative product, the FCA, or France des Cadres Actifs (“The French Businessmen Survey”), a tool that measured readership among the country’s executives. Ipsos convinced a consortium of the country’s newspapers and news magazines to share the costs of conducting the FCA. Ipsos had successfully recognized a trend in France, as the country began to see a growing number of financial and economic news and information magazines.
By 1981, Ipsos had established itself as a strong voice in the French research community, while its revenues remained relatively modest, at just FFr5 million that year. Yet Ipsos was set to see strong growth during the decade, with sales leaping to FFr100 million by 1989. Part of the company’s success was the addition of a new member to its executive team, Jean-Marc Lech.
Lech had joined IFOP in 1970 and quickly became friends with Truchot. When Truchot left the company, Lech remained and by 1980 was named IFOP’s president and CEO. In 1982, Lech left IFOP to join Truchot at Ipsos. The two men complemented each other. Whereas Truchot had studied economics and maintained an interest in market research, Lech came from a far different background. The son of a Polish immigrant steelworker, Lech had studied philosophy and social sociology, and this perspective was to prove a valuable asset in forging Ipsos’ unique character through the next decade.
Lech was named co-chairman alongside Truchot, and the pair set out to launch Ipsos into a new direction, that of public opinion research. If this area was to remain relatively minor for the company—yielding just 6 percent of revenues in 2001—it garnered the young company a great deal of attention and recognition in an industry where reputation, especially one built up over a long period of time, played a large role in a market research company’s success. A fairly new concept to the French market, public opinion polling quickly proved popular, to the extent where observers commented that France had grown to become one of the most heavily polled of the industrial nations.
By the end of the 1980s, Ipsos had become the fifth-largest media research company in France. The company’s emphasis on advertising and media research helped it become one of the market leaders in those sectors, while its public opinion research—and particularly its work in political polling—helped it reinforce its reputation as an important resource for the countries political class. In this the company was helped by the dynamic atmosphere of French politics in the 1980s and 1990s, which saw a great deal of shifts in power among France’s political parties. As a result, politicians became more conscious of their public image and turned more and more often to Ipsos to help them measure and understand the factors underlying their public appeal. Lech and Truchot were also forging their own personal reputations, becoming respected figures for their insights not only into the market research industry but in politics and society in general.
European Expansion in the 1990s
In the mid-1980s, Ipsos began to adapt new technologies to its measurement instruments. In 1986, for example, the company began using computer technology for conducting surveys—debuting its CATI, or computer-assisted telephone interviews. Computer technology was later extended to personal interviews, with a new class of instruments called CAPI (computer-assisted personal interviews) put into use in 1992.
The shift toward the globalization of the world economy that began in earnest in the early 1990s led Ipsos to begin plotting its own international expansion. As its customers extended their reach into the international arena, Ipsos was determined to accompany them in order to offer a unified product across national lines. Ipsos’ initial expansion target remained Europe, especially Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The company also built up interests in Central Europe, especially Hungary.
Acquisitions formed the primary component of the company’s expansion program, in part because of the need for an established reputation in order to compete successfully in a given market’s research industry. Ipsos defined a strict set of criteria for its acquisitions, namely that all takeovers be friendly, with existing management generally left in place. Takeovers were to be 100 percent, enabling Ipsos to create a unified international growth network. Targeted companies were expected to operate in at least one of the company’s three core markets—media, advertising, and social research—and had to hold a top five position in their domestic markets.
Between 1990 and 1995, Ipsos made a strong series of acquisitions. Spain was one of the company’s first targeted markets, with the acquisition of Eco and Eco Consulting. In 1992, the company paid £4 million to purchase RSL-Research Services, bringing the French company into the United Kingdom and giving it one of the leading media and advertising market research firms in that country. That year the company also moved into Germany, acquiring GfM-Getas and WBA. After acquiring Makrotest, the company reinforced its Italian presence with the 1994 acquisition of Explorer.
The company also continued its French expansion, acquiring Insight, a leading French company offering qualitative research, in 1993. The company’s sales grew strongly during this period, jumping from the equivalent of nearly EUR 18 million in 1990 to EUR 108 million in 1995. Aiding the company’s expansion was the opening of its capital to outside investors, including Baring Private Equity, in 1992. Nonetheless, Truchot and Lech maintained control of two-thirds of the company’s shares.
Consumers, citizens, and clients—we can be all of these in turn and at the same time.
At Ipsos, our researchers & identify what unites and what differentiates us as individuals. We call this “Profiling People,” which assures our clients that we understand the dynamics of their markets and provide reliable information that gives them a leading edge.
Global Market Research Leader in the 21st Century
By 1997, Ipsos, with sales of EUR 144 million, had joined the top five in European market research companies and claimed the second-place position in France. With its European network largely in place—and 50 percent of revenues generated internationally—the company now turned to expansion across the Atlantic. In order to pursue its global expansion, Ipsos took on new investment partners, selling 40 percent of the company to Artemis Group, led by François Pinault, and the Amstar investment fund led by Walter Butler.
In December 1997, Ipsos made two significant acquisitions. The first brought the company into the Latin American market, with the purchase of Novaction and its subsidiaries in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Under terms of that purchase agreement, Ipsos immediately acquired 33 percent of Novaction, with the option of taking complete control of that company, a move Ipsos made in 2000.
Two weeks later, Ipsos announced its entry into the North American market with an agreement to acquire ASI Market Research. The leader in the advertising research sector, ASI not only enabled Ipsos to establish itself in North America, but it also made it the world’s top advertising research company specializing in broadcast advertising copy-testing. That category had been growing particularly strongly as advertisers, faced with the rising costs of creating and deploying their advertising campaigns, sought to test a campaign’s effectiveness before the actual campaign launch.
The ASI and Novaction acquisitions transformed Ipsos into a worldwide market research force. The company’s international activity now represented more than 70 percent of its total sales, which neared EUR 200 million at the end of 1998.
In 1999, Ipsos moved to step up its expansion, going public with a listing on the Paris stock exchange’s Nouveau Marché. The successful offering, oversubscribed by more than 12 times, enabled Artemis and Amstar to cash out on their investments and also gave Ipsos a strong war chest for pursuing further international growth. Among the company’s expansion moves following its public offering was the creation of an Internet audience research joint-venture MMXI Europe, with the majority of shares held by partner Media Matrix and 20 percent by Ipsos. The company also took control of four subsidiaries of NFO Worldwide specializing in the formation of access panels—that is, sample audiences who have agreed to respond to questionnaires on a regular basis. At the end of 1999, Ipsos moved to establish itself in the Asia-Pacific region, opening a subsidiary office in Hong Kong.
At the beginning of 2000, Ipsos acquired Australian company Marketing for Change, which was renamed as Ipsos-MfC, strengthening its position in the Pacific region. In Europe, the company acquired Médiangles, a specialist in Internet market research.
Yet the North American market, headquarters for many of Ipsos major corporate customers, remained the company’s primary expansion target at the turn of the century. In March 2000, Ipsos’ North American presence took a major step forward with the CA68 million acquisition of Canada’s Angus Reid. That company, which was founded in 1979, had built up its own internationally operating network, with offices in Canada, the United States, and England. Angus Reid specialized in pubic opinion research and not only had become a leader in the Canadian market but had also built up a strong share of the United States market, which contributed one third of its sales. Renamed Ipsos-Reid following its acquisition, the subsidiary became an Ipsos flagship and a worldwide brand.
A month after the Angus Reid acquisition, Ipsos returned to Canada, now acquiring Tandemar. That company held the lead in the Canadian market for its specialty, advertising effectiveness post-testing. Tandemar was joined to the company’s American-based Ipsos-ASI Inc. subsidiary and renamed Ipsos-ASI Ltd. for the Canadian market.
Later in 2000, Ipsos looked south, acquiring BIMSA, the leading Mexican market research company. At the same time, the company increased its shares of Novaction, taking 100 percent control of that network. The company’s agreement to acquire Search Marketing, a company active in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina; this move, completed in 2001, established Ipsos as the top survey research company in the Latin American market.
At the end of 2000, Didier Truchot and Jean-Marc Lech took a step back from the company’s direction, naming Pierre Giacommetti and Stephane Truchi to head the company’s day-to-day operations. Truchot and Lech nonetheless remained active in the company as co-chairmen of the board. By then, the pair had built Ipsos into one of the world’s top ten market research companies, with sales of nearly EUR 330 million.
Ipsos international expansion continued through 2001, notably with the purchase of the research division of NPD Marketing in the United States. The company had also acquired half of the United Kingdom’s Research in Focus, with an agreement to extend to full control by 2003. In Asia, Ipsos had purchased a 40 percent share in Link Survey, which was renamed Ipsos-Link. The company also added Riehle Research, complementing its European presence.
- Ipsos is founded by Didier Truchot.
- Ipsos launches its first media measurement instrument, the BAF.
- The company launches the FCA, a measurement survey targeting French businessmen.
- Jean-Marc Lech joins Ipsos as co-chairman.
- The company begins expanding throughout Europe.
- Ipsos sells one-third of its shares to outside investors in order to pursue its expansion plan; the company acquires NFL-Research in England and Eco Consulting in Spain.
- Ipsos sells 40 percent of its shares in order to fuel expansion into the United States.
- Ipsos goes public on the EURonext Paris exchange’s Nouveau Marché.
- The company acquires Angus Reid and Tandemar of Canada.
- Ipsos acquires the U.S. firm of Vantis, formerly a division of AC Nielsen Bates.
In 2002, Ipsos took a break from the rapid expansion that saw it top EUR 480 million in revenues in 2001. That figure enabled the company to pass its chief French rival, Taylor Nelson Sofres, for the first time. Slowing down its acquisition drive did not, however, mean stopping completely—in April 2002, the company moved to acquire Vantis, a division of AC Nielsen Bates, strengthening Ipsos’ leading position in the marketing consulting segment. And Ipsos continued to aim high, targeting revenues of more than EUR 1 billion by 2005.
Ipsos SA; Ipsos Access Panel Holding; GIE Ipsos Europe; Ipsos France SA; Ipsos Médias SA; Ipsos Mediangles SA; Ipsos Opinion SA; Ipsos Regions SARL; Ipsos Interviews SA; Insight Marques SARL IMS SA; Popcorn SNC (49.99%); IMS Developpement SA; Ipsos Access Panel GIE; Int res SA Z(82%; Belgium); Ipsos-RSL Ltd Co. (U.K.); Pricesearch Ltd Co (U.K.); CatiCentre Ltd. Co (U.K.); Ipsos-Insight Ltd. Co (U.K.); Ipsos Deutschland Gmbh (Germany); Ipsos-Explorer SRL (Italy); Ipsos-Szonda Ste hongroise (50.1%)(Hungary); Eco SA (Spain); Ipsos USA Inc.; Ipsos America Inc.; Ipsos-ASI Inc. (U.S.); Ipsos Canada Ltd; Ipsos-ASI Ltd Canada; Cantrack Research Ltd (Canada); Ipsos-Reid Corp. Inc (Canada); Ipsos Portugal LDA (Portugal); Ipsos Latin America BV (Netherlands); Publimetria SA (78.2%) (Argentina); Novaction Argentina SA; Novaction Brazil LDA; Novaction Mexico SA; Ipsos-Bimsa SA 50; Ipsos Far East Ltd (Hong-Kong); Ipsos Australia PTY Ltd; AGB Stat-Ipsos (37.47%; Lebanon).
AC Nielsen Corporation; IMS Health Inc.; Kantar Group Ltd.; Taylor Nelson Sofres plc; Information Resources Inc.; NFO Worldwide Inc.; Nielsen Media Research; GfK Group A.G.; United Information Group Ltd.; Westat Inc.; The Arbitron Company; Maritz Marketing Research; Market Facts Inc.; Video Research; The NPD Group Inc.; Marketing Intelligence Corp.; Opinion Research Corp. International; J.D. Power and Associates; Roper Starch Worldwide Inc.
Cocquide, Patrick, “Jean-Mark Lech,” L’Expansion, November 22, 2001.
Hassoux, Didier, “Portrait: Jean-Marc Lech,” Liberation, March 26, 2002.
“Ipsos vise 1 milliard d’EURos de chiffre d’affaires en 2005,” Reuters, March 28, 2002.
Porier, Jerome, “‘Aucun signe de ralentissement en vue,’” Newsbourse, May 27, 2001.