Esomar CEE Research Forum 2012: A deep dive in central and eastern Europe

The beginning of the year is a popular period for trend watching (see this arcticle on GenY 2012 trends, for example). On top of many lists with predictions for 2012, we find back the focus on emerging markets. With the current economic turmoil, many companies want to get growth out of the often called BRIC countries (Brasil, Russia, India & China). Although the BRIC-countries obviously represent some of the biggest countries, this list gets nowadays also expanded with the MIST-countries (standing for Mexico, Indonesia, south Korea and Turkey) and to larger extent to many other countries in  emerging regions.

Just doing
For market research, this increased interest in emerging markets definitely implies some challenges. Our research toolbox needs to be adapted to local customs on research e.g. in incentivizing, type of questions you are asking, etc. Moreover, especially in the analysis of results, context is key. You have to understand a culture in order to really extract meaningful insights from the data. Personally, I have experienced this need for more context at first hand. Since 8 months, I am living in Timisoara, a beautiful city in the West of Romania. When looking at local economics, I see especially a rise of retail and finance:  shopping malls and big hypermarkets. My local friends who need to teach me to go shopping in the big outlet malls in Arad; realizing that the new employee I just hired might not have a euro account yet. These are just some of the examples who make me realize how biased my perspective is. So, both researchers and brands who want to be active in this markets, should realize that it is not a matter of ‘just doing’ research in this region.
CEE forum
Now, back tot the lists of trends in 2012. On top of my list of events for 2012, is the CEE forum of Esomar.  I believe it is a great initiatives to build this bridge between the western world and this region. It will provide a great opportunity to meet local experts who can guide you in this fascinating part of the world. Talks on how to do research and marketing to consumers in this region: did you ever wondered how it is to do marketing for the poor? Or what about Russian middle class? Joeri Van den Bergh (author of how cool brands stay hot) will reveal secrets on youth marketing in this region. One of the speeches I am most looking forward to is the speech of Jeff hunter (former Gen Mills) who will talk about how to decide which markets to enter! And, we will have a great discussion on new and online ways to connect with the consumers in these markets.
Time for a short disclosure, talking about bias. I admit, I might be a bit biased since I am part of the program committee of this congress, but the point that I’m trying to make here, is that if we want to be serious about emerging markets, we need to deep dive in their cultures. Instead of all putting it on our trend watching lists for this year, we should talk about our new year’s resolution and undertake at least one action this year to better understand our own bias! What do you think?

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