Consumer Collaboration around the World: Asia-Pacific [4/6]
Meet our Collaboration around the World series. Every article in this blog series overlooks the state of consumer collaboration in different parts of the world. This based on recent travels around the globe to speak at conferences, talks with moderators from our proprietary Global Community Moderator Network, experiences with client projects and fresh figures from a new global consumer survey. In the previous months we already discussed Europe, North-America & Latin-America, next up is Asia-Pacific (written by Erica Van Lieven, Managing Director Direction First).
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”
Opening from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens
A period of change
In meetings with clients and at conference presentations in Australia and Asia over the past 3 weeks I have been continually struck by the wide contrast in adoption – and readiness to adopt – from different businesses to engage with newer ways of connecting with consumers for business insights and strategy.
Dickens wrote his novel, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in 1859, covering the period of the French Revolution. The opening phrases of the novel capture the stark contrasts of a period of tumultuous change in the western world, a period of struggle about where the power should be held and how this affected individual lives.
Whilst the world of market research is not a place of violent physical conflicts of opinion and power (thank goodness!), currently it is a place where there are those who are passionate about the need for change and the need to find new ways of connecting and moving forward and those who are not. In their business, these people prosecute their case internally with passion. Others feel challenged by this new way of working and seem to cling more strongly to their more familiar process of connecting with consumers, trying to quieten the dissenting voices around them. In addition, having viewed the fast uptake of consumer insights approaches in Europe and the UK, bringing consumers into the boardroom, it feels that in Australia we may be lagging behind in the adoption of these new approaches.
Budget to learn and balance risk 70:20:10
In this swirling forum of opinion and contradiction Cristina Bondolowski, Vice President Marketing Southeast Asia, The Coca-Cola Company, eloquently put her case in the opening address at ESOMAR Asia-Pacific in Jakarta last week. Cristina explained how her team is dealing with the rising tide of new digital ways of communicating and the need for her team to experiment with the growing plethora of options in an increasingly digital world of communication. The Asian team uses a 70:20:10 approach. 70% of the budget is spent on what they know and do well, 20% is invested in stretching to new methods to supplement what we know and 10% on getting way out of their comfort zone towards higher-risk ‘out there’, creative approaches.
Bondolowski talked about media spend, an incredibly important investment for the business – however many in the room immediately made the connection with the research investment, which is living a similar explosion of opportunity and has the same need to find the new ways of speeding business connection and decision making. Viewing the budget this way gives room for investment in innovation. Surprisingly this was a way of thinking that I heard being applied not only in Asia but also by forward-looking clients in Australia, amongst small and large companies that are facing similar challenges and are looking for ways to try new research approaches that will move their business forward more rapidly. Importantly these more innovative businesses also see the need to listen to consumers in different ways in order to obtain new information from their consumers.
Asia and Australia on the Cusp of Connection
Some companies have adopted early new ways of listening to their customers. They already know that these new approaches are the foundation of hearing new things from their customers that can rarely be offered up in the one-night stand of a traditional qualitative research group. New ways of connecting with consumers such as Consumer Consulting Boards take the ‘one-night stand‘ of a qualitative group to the more intuitive ongoing listening of a relationship with consumers.
To quote one client in a post-project workshop:
“It’s the research that keeps on giving”
“It brings to life the most interesting part of a qual group, when the moderator walks out of the room!”
Whilst many companies are still trying to find the opportunity to experiment with a deep dialogue with their customers such as that of a Consumer Consulting Board (also known as online research community), the early adopters in this market who have already experimented, find that they hear the consumer voice in different ways to how they heard it before, as well as hearing from different consumers in more powerful ways.
Decision Makers lacking Consumer Readiness to Engage
Across Australia, New Zealand and Asia however, the adoption rate is lacking consumer readiness to engage versus what can be seen in Europe, America and the UK. Many decision makers in APAC are still working through the thinking of what project they should take the risk on for the new online research approaches. Whereas they should probably be thinking why they are risking not engaging with consumers now in online research communitiaes. We already know that:
- Half of the top ten emerging markets lie in the Asia Pacific region
- 45% of the world’s Internet population lives in the Asia Pacific region
- 6/10 social network users are already connected to brands
In addition, more than 9 out of every 10 Asia Pacific consumers want to collaborate with companies they like in co-creation projects. This is even more than in some other western countries (8/10), showing the huge potential for market research in the online environment in this region. Of these people, 30% prefer to do so in a closed research community (compared to 36% on a global scale).*
Consumers here are ready to collaborate, it’s the decision makers who are struggling to keep up with the consumers! What are we waiting for?
Find out more about our community approach in the free e-version of our Consumer Consulting Board book on www.consumerconsultingboard.com. Or download our latest paper on Running research communities in Asian markets.
*All figures mentioned are derived from the InSites Consulting Social Media around the World 2012 report.