#Beyond business…the Intimate face of market research!

About two years ago, I was invited to speak at a market research conference about the intimate issues facing market research especially as one of the largest countries in Africa. Nigeria is a land of great potentials projected to become the 4th largest economy in the world by 2050. In spite of the hardships that have currently plagued our nation- inflation, unemployment and massive corruption in the face of recent political decadence of the ruling parties. Nigeria is seen to be characterized by an increasing middle class; increased urbanization and rural migration; high influence of culture and innovation and a highly mobile savvy population that continues to yearn for and embrace proudly 9ja made products.

Most companies over the years have tried to understand better this new type of consumers who have become highly aspirational and have big dreams that have been shaped by heavy exposure to the media including a religious inclination that life holds something better for the future. However, it looks like the more they try the more elusive answers to their questions are in a market that is quite fragmented, dynamic and unpredictable. In view of current hardships will the average Nigerian youth put his dreams on hold or will they continue to pursue their dreams in spite of the odds?

Perhaps, Perhaps Not! everyone is suddenly reviewing their lifestyles, spending patterns and consumption habits. Nigerians love to live luxuriously despite their socio-economic class. What impact will the current economic conditions have on consumer habits. What reviews, adjustments and compromise do consumers have to make to survive?

Companies also want to better understand how the current socio-economic conditions will affect the buying decisions of their consumers and customers. What will the average Nigerian consumer(across demography) be willing to give up in their daily lifestyle in order to survive these times?
So many questions begging for answers and many more questions that organizations with an active innovation pipeline should be (if not currently) asking themselves in order to effectively put in place the right marketing strategy for success in these trying times.

What role is research playing? How is the recessive times affecting businesses and their focus on consumer preferences?

A critical aspect that local market research organizations have not taken into consideration is the peculiarity of our environment- meaning Nigeria is a country of diversity and this diversity is what makes us unique. However, how do we communicate this diversity and highlight the similarities without jumbling this up in massive data while effectively highlighting these insights in real time. For instance how do we understand what takes up the time of an average young Nigerian(18 to 25 years) who is upwardly mobile, aspirational and digital savvy yet spends an average of five hours commuting on a daily basis, while 70% of that time is spent in traffic gridlocks and slow downs? How can we take advantage of this free window as brands to make their journey less painful?

What role is market research(in Nigeria) willing to play beyond business in helping organizations see the true picture/reality of issues with their targets and current consumers in order to help them understand the right foundations to build on for business success, growth and profit?
How can companies begin to get more intimate with their consumers, going beyond the boardroom to the bedroom?

As an insights expert with agency/client side experience, it has consistently become clear that a lot of our local (Nigerian owned agencies) have not moved beyond the traditional role of research (reporting figures) to becoming more of a strategic partner to the client. Are we really giving value as research providers to our clients or are we merely hustling to make profit off them?

As a local agency, one’s core strenght should be in the knowledge of your local environment-especially suburban and rural. This strenght should also help in properly understanding and profiling consumers effectively for targeting. Most small scale local agencies continue to fall short in providing real time/strategic information that is actionable for sustainable growth when they present findings. It is time to move beyond data and begin to:
1. Help cleints comprehend and understand their customers in real time
2. Help businesses understand the need to move beyond giving satisfaction to forming a bonded love relationship with their customers through the intimacy created from the experience with their goods and/or services
3. Identify current macro trends that can highlight the big picture scenario and showcase the right insights for companies to see what new trends and counter trends are challenging ways of living and buying habits
4. Identify what the current priorities are for families and individuals in order to determine what comes first and how these will be affecting choices and spending habits.
5. What are the new and old habits being adopted and/or being discarded in order to arrive at a more sustainable lifestyle?
6. Understanding how a decrease in income affect the overall buying psychology and decision making process of the consumer
7. What opportunities for innovation/renovation exists with new upcoming trends?
8. Do we begin to look at the opportunities that exists within IoT and can this improve on our offering?

These above are just some of the few out of numerous questions that can be explored in trying to better help organizations understand the financial hardships that people are currently facing and why these ‘change-wave’ is affecting consumers in an effort for survival. As an insights professional-this is the time to make a difference and help companies find the right answers for business survival in these trying times.

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