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FEATURE27 December 2012

Preview of 2013 – part 2

Features

Frédéric-Charles Petit on the road to democratisation, Paul Flatters on why the BRIC acronym should be retired and Alistair Hill on the importance of mobile.

The road to democratisation

Advances in technology make it easy for us to engage in real-time market research. With the rise of social media and content sharing, consumers are increasingly forthcoming about their opinions – as long as they’re being compensated in some way, of course. Survey technology is being advanced at a faster rate than ever before and, based on our projections, in the near future consumers will be able to instantly use relevant research data to help inform even the quickest and simplest of purchase decisions.

“This merging of traditional market research and consumer-generated research will result in the democratisation of research. Everyone wins”

Frederic-Charles Petit

Frederic-Charles Petit

This merging of traditional market research and consumer-generated research will result in the democratisation of research. Everyone wins. Imagine buying a pair of jeans. No one truly enjoys trying on trousers and it can be hard to tell in the fluorescent glare of a fitting room if something is flattering or not. What if, within seconds, a consumer could use technology on their smartphone to poll a group of friends, influencers or the general population? Smartphones, tablets and other connected devices paired with forward-thinking research companies will make this instantaneous transaction of information possible.

Not only would this type of technology allow us to curate and access new information, but it would also pool all previous data on that particular style of jeans and on all other jeans that the consumer had purchased. This would allow for comparisons, the identification of trends and other important insights. It’s essentially a giant, collective memory bank, with the ability to call up very precise
and specific information.

This type of model is beneficial to all parties involved. Firstly the consumer reaps benefits by polling peers, friends and other consumers to help inform a decision. Secondly, the consumer taking the survey will receive some sort of financial benefit or other value. Thirdly, the shopkeeper can choose to record this purchase or behaviour data, so long as the customer agrees. All this data is then recorded in a master database of information for future consumers and companies to reference later.

This could be a major evolution for the marketing industry that would see brands investing considerable resources in adopting the technology necessary to gain a competitive edge by engaging consumers earlier on in the decision-making process.

Frédéric-Charles Petit is founder and chief executive of Toluna

BRICs and Cliques

The BRIC acronym, coined by Goldman Sachs’s Jim O’Neill in 2001 to describe the world’s emerging powerhouse economies, is too simplistic a way of understanding consumers and the demand side of the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese economies, as it ignores key demographic, social and cultural drivers of behaviour. Russia is the obvious odd-one-out when these other factors are considered. It has far more in common with its neighbours – notably Poland and Ukraine – than with Brazil, India or China. In 2013 the BRIC acronym should be retired, in favour of two more relevant ones – the BICs and the PRUs.

The most glaring divergence between Russia and the rest of the BRIC nations is its population structure. The BIC (Brazil, India, China) nations have young, growing populations; in India, for example, two-fifths of the population are under the age of 20 and just 8% are over 60. Russia, contrastingly, has a much older and shrinking population – just one in five are under 20, and the same proportion are over 65. Russia’s age structure marks it out as much older than Brazil, China or India, but as almost identical to Poland and Ukraine.

Russia also differs from the BIC nations on the basic demographic indicator of population growth – Russia’s population will decline by 1% between now and 2020, and by 4% between now and 2030. Poland and Ukraine will also experience population declines in this period, but the populations of Brazil, India and China will continue to grow. Russia is also different in the consumer values of its population. Data from Trajectory’s bi-monthly Global Foresight survey reveals that consumers in Russia are more likely to be dissatisfied with their life overall and more likely to be pessimistic about both their country’s and their household’s economic prospects than consumers in Brazil, China or India. In addition, Russians relate differently to brands and are more tech savvy. For each indicator, Russia’s consumers position themselves as very different from BIC consumers, but very close to Poland.

Paul Flatters is managing partner of Trajectory

The mobile evolution

The UK and US have now passed the 50% mark for smartphone penetration, making 2013 a very exciting year for those who are embracing mobile and a challenging one for those who are not. Mobile and tablet ownership is on the increase, the majority of mobile devices now sold are smartphones and with a two-year handset replacement cycle, those who are not smartphone users soon will be.

There are also a number of (cheap) tablets flooding the market. This will not only have a significant impact on the way consumers lead their lives but also the way we research them. This change in device usage provides exciting opportunities for brands, but it also means that as clients place more emphasis on their mobile strategy, the research industry needs to guide them through this learning process.

Alistair Hill is chief executive of On Device Research

  • Tomorrow, we will publish part 3 of our Preview of 2013, focusing on the recession, EU legislation and big data

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