Let’s take BRIC forward!

“The future is unknowable but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to catch a glimpse of it. It’s what marketers want from their agencies. We need to get to the future first”
– Unilever CMO Keith Weed at a recent conference.

BRIC is the future!

InSites Consulting is now literally taking research forward. An in-depth qualitative study on how to conduct online research communities in the BRIC countries provided us with the necessary knowledge to expand our horizon.  Already want to test your knowledge? Click here and check in for a trip around the world! BRIC countries are more than ever in the spotlights as developing countries. They bring a global shift in the economy. Together they will outperform the current G6 industrialized countries in the coming decades.

China is already the second player in the world economy and India is 5th. When it comes to online behaviour, the four BRIC countries are in the top 10 of largest Internet population in the world:

Enough reasons to focus on online research communities in these four emerging countries! Some important consumer trends have influenced research all around the world and prove the need of online research communities:

  • Consumers are empowered: new communication possibilities also enable consumers more than ever to share experiences. They are the ones who decide which brands are hot and which ones are not.
  • Consumers are co-creators: 66% wants to share feedback with companies. An online research community is the perfect link between consumer and brand.

Also, our clients are ready for it: The GRIT-study (Greenbook Research Industry Trends Report) says that the majority of research buyers (66%) wants to conduct a research community in 2012.

Use the same ingredients but a different recipe!

Cultural differences however imply that our current community model needs adapting. Our community process shouldn’t undergo radical changes though, but should rather be optimized according to every country’s needs. Subtle changes in managing expectations, moderation, rewarding, gamification and brand engagement will guarantee more impact. In other words: we will still use the same ingredients, but a different recipe!
Our in-depth qualitative research was conducted in order to identify the differences with our current model and between the BRIC countries:

  • Desk research gave us a first feel for each culture.
  • 16 expert interviews (4 in each country) with CEOs of research companies, moderators, panel brokers or recruiters taught us more about the local research landscape.
  • The findings from these interviews were presented during an internal brainstorm, where we defined hypotheses for each country.
  • These hypotheses were used as input for the online discussion groups (one per country) with regular participants. They were asked their thoughts and recommendations about online research community.

This resulted in an internal manual for each country, which can be used and adapted when conducting communities in the future. We constructed a persona for each country, summarizing the main findings on one single ‘typical’ participant.

Discover some first findings!

We can identify some general changes looking at some crucial touch points in our community process:

In all countries we have to focus on highly educated and high-income people living in urban areas. There is still a big digital divide between old and young. In 2011, more than 35% of the world population under 25 is using the Internet, against 34% of over 25s.

In terms of moderation we will need to appeal to native speakers. This will push the level of trust with the participants and guarantee more nuanced answers. Our local-to-local principle makes sure broad target groups are reached by not excluding all those who are not fluent in English. Our network of certified and trained moderators will help us get the best possible output for the client.
Looking at the cultural differences between these countries, a certain approach in one country will sometimes have a counter-effect in another one. Some examples:

  • Managing expectations: What do participants expect from a community? In Russia a community will be more a task-based forum, a work environment. For Brazilian participants on the other hand, the community will be a social environment, a place where you can exchange thoughts and have interesting discussions.
  • Moderation: The style of moderation will differ in each country. For example: an Indian moderator will have to act like a friend in order to gain trust, the Chinese moderator should rather act like a true expert. Only by proving that the project is professional, Chinese participants will take the community serious.
  • Rewarding: We identified important differences in how they would like to be rewarded intrinsically: in India for example social recognition on an emotional level by the brand and the participants will very important. They want to feel valued. In Russia however, status is everything. Rewarding them with badges and exclusive information would work better here.
  • Gamification: Game elements will need a different kind of setting in each country. The most striking difference can be found between India and China: while Indian participants love to engage with all sorts of game elements, Chinese participants are not too enthusiastic about the concept yet. For them, a community has to be professional and exclusive. Simple games with no use do not fit with this concept.
  • Brand involvement: What effect will the brand have on the participants? Whereas the Brazilian participants would like the brand to be involved as much as possible (interaction is very important) and want to feel equal to the brand, the Chinese participants would feel limited when the brand would be too present.

These are only a few examples of how small differences could have a huge impact. Want to know more? Stay tuned for more detailed reports of each country in the coming weeks!
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