How to build research communities in India

In our quest to conduct successful communities in the BRIC countries, the next country of interest is India. After Brazil and Russia, it is time to take a closer look at the country of Ghandi, chicken tikka masala and the river Ganges. Here are the main things to keep in mind:

  • Recruitment: When recruiting community participants, we need to take into account the huge digital divide in India. Recruiting urban wealthy youngsters will be easier than finding low income aged people living in the countryside.
  • Engagement: Indian consumers need to be triggered from beginning to end. They won’t feel valued if the intensity of the community is low and will eventually drop out. How will they stay engaged?
  • Recognition: Participant engagement can be increased by establishing a feeling of recognition by other participants, moderator and company. Integrating feedback tools, such as weekly company blogs, would make them feel heard.
  • Gamification: Incorporating fun elements will make it easier to stay with the project until the end. The moderator should incorporate gamified elements to keep the participant focused.

Let’s go into depth and discover more practical tips!

That’s hot!!

When thinking about India, food is one of the first things that comes to mind! Very tasty, hot and spicy food! Here you can see a post by an Indian participant in one of our multi-country communities, about a typical Indian dish:
It is great to see how engaged Indian participants are! Even more so than their British and American counterparts, they were eager to share visuals and personal information.
But that’s not all, there is a lot more! Did you know that…

  • some say India is “the largest social experiment” because it is the biggest democracy in the world?
  • Indian consumers mainly like popular and well-known brands?
  • the Internet penetration in India is very low (10.2%)? However much these numbers may surprise you, there is also some good news: the usage of the mobile phone is increasing by 34% a year!

Understanding these characteristics helps us in customizing online communities to the Indian consumer. In-depth interviews with experts and an online discussion group with Indian participants helped us understand the challenges more into depth. Some interesting conclusions:

  • Demographics: there are 21 languages and over 2000 reported ethnic groups in India. Some say India is more a continent of contrasts rather than a country. Conducting the community in the local language is a must, but one must keep in mind which target group is aimed for and which language barriers could arise.
  • Culture: Indian consumers find it hard to trust anything unfamiliar. Introducing novelty requires unambiguous information, for example about timings and activity expectations. Another issue involves the fact that the Indian consumers are more reluctant to speak up (honestly). According to the experts we talked with in the Indian research world, participants tend to give socially desirable answers. Therefore involving co-researchers would be a good idea. Co-researchers are actually participants who are invited to give a critical view on the posts of the others. They can flag posts that aren’t reliable and actually give us even more qualitative insights. Together with the moderator the co-researchers are an important asset in making participants feel at ease and probe into those answers that are seen as socially desirable.
  • Technology: A final issue that needs to be taken into account is the digital divide in India: there’s a huge difference between the urban and rural segments, the rich versus the poor and the youngsters versus the more aged. However, the mobile Internet grows faster than landline broadband. Our recent study Social Media around the world has shown that Facebook is one of the most popular websites in India. This creates opportunities for conducting online research communities.

Let’s connect!

Let’s meet Lokesh, our Indian participant, and learn from his experiences:
Lokesh is a sales manager and is about to get married to the love of is life.
Do it mobile…
Lokesh just adores his smartphone. He likes to be up-to-date at all times, play a game when he’s bored or connect with his friends. The mobile community app would be a must for Lokesh! He would enjoy being able to upload pictures via the app and add comments. The online community should be designed in a way that clears out ambiguity: fewer rooms to keep it simple, a link to Facebook and an addition of pictures and music to keep them animated.
Get familiar…
Lokesh feels uncomfortable with opening up to the moderator and the other participants. Therefore, the moderator should act as a friend. Building trust will break down Indian participants’ guard. Participants want to feel like co-creators of something BIG so they need the recognition of the moderator! Being united as a consumer board will unleash deeper emotions towards the others and towards the moderator.
And play the game!
Indian consumers need to be stimulated intensely for long-term engagement. Therefore, we’ve collected some tips and tricks to solve this major issue:

  • Let them earn badges: why not reward those who give valuable contributions or who make you think that one step further? Participants are given the possibility to collect badges, for example for the most striking picture or the most interesting quote. That way, Indian consumers feel recognized for their individual participation and are more willing to speak up!
  • Keep it alive: share movies, pictures, links and other interesting information!
  • Spread the incentive: win their trust by already giving them part of the monetary incentive when the community is still running.

These assumptions guarantee valuable, honest and long term answers from the community participants.

So what should you remember?

  • In the first contact (text message, e-mail) it is crucial to focus on respect and the importance of their opinion: recognition is the main motivator to participate.
  • Engaging tools will do the trick: badges, social networks, entertainment (games, music, visuals, and movies) will keep them motivated.
  • Make the company give feedback to the community: the participants will feel honoured.
  • The moderator should be a friend: participate in topics, share more about yourself and push them to share their honest opinion.
  • In addition, co-researchers will be crucial in order to gather valuable insights.

Want to know more about communities in BRIC? Stay tuned for the next blog post about China! Can’t get enough? Test your knowledge and play the game!

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