Zain Raj Buys Chicago Research Firm, Expands Offering

Company Offers Both Research and Analytics Insights

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Zain Raj, a longtime marketing-services executive, has acquired Chicago-based research firm, Shapiro, and renamed it Shapiro & Raj to reflect an expanded offering. That offering will combine Shapiro's research function, which includes everything from focus groups to tracking studies, with Mr. Raj's forte in shopper marketing, direct marketing and analytics -- what he called "transaction-driven" marketing. Shapiro & Raj also plans to offer data from social media channels.

Zain Raj
Zain Raj

"We're going from being a traditional research firm to a research firm that uses different sources -- instead of just providing research reports, we're making sure we can go with much, much deeper insights," said Mr. Raj.

He added that "what consumers say is often very different from what they do."

"We're going to integrate the findings from transactional data with the research," he said. "We'll take a look at the consumers that buy the products and use that information to make sure we can connect what people are saying they're going to do with what people are actually doing."

Shapiro was founded in 1955 by Leo Shapiro and its clients have included a host of blue-chip companies like Coke, Monsanto, Ben & Jerry's, Kimberly-Clark and Walt Disney. The firm counts among its current clients Valspar, grocery chain HEB, Ulta and Bain Capital. The firm has about 80 employees, but Mr. Raj noted that the goal is to add about 20 more by year's end.

As part of the newly formed company, Owen Shapiro, VP at Shapiro, will become president of Shapiro & Raj. Matthew Smith, president of Shapiro, will become vice chairman.

Most recently, Mr. Raj was head of Epsilon Agency Services, a post he left in September to work on his current endeavor, he said. He arrived at Epsilon via Hyper Marketing, an umbrella company that was formed in early 2012 when SolutionSet MediaWhiz bought D.L. Ryan Cos., the latter of which owned shopper agency Ryan Partnership. Mr. Raj was CEO of Hyper Marketing when it was bought by Epsilon in November 2012. Mr. Raj said that Hyper Marketing was the result of another gap he saw in the marketplace: a holding company that specializes in helping marketers drive retail purchases.


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