Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Market Research Industry In INDIA
Shiladitya Sarkar | IL&FS
Market Research Industry in India
MR Industry: Boardroom Moves
Emergence of new age sectors like Telecom, Media (Digital) & Insurance are helping the Market Research Industry to climb to new heights with varied analysis of Consumer Insights. Despite slowdown in the past coupled with talent crunch and dog pricing by agencies, the roughly 900 crore MR Industry (Excludes KPO) is well poised to take a big leap. The Overall Market gets divided into full services MR agencies and the KPO Services clocking around 18% of CAGR(Source: Industry Estimation). During the last couple of years there has been a consolidation between MR agencies in their scale of operations and data management practices. No wonder despite all these, India still becomes the popular destination for the MNC based research agencies since there is untapped potential of new sets of consumers with an opportunity to serve huge population. MR Team (Part of Advertising Agency during 70’s) moves from the boardrooms of Consumer Durable or FMCG companies into the boardrooms of every sector of the economy.
Inside MR: Challenges & Opportunities
Market Research is changing and that too from its early days of data collection (Pen n Paper Method) to technically prowess devices like PDA’s, mobile phones & in-built camera’s which can record exact state of the matter of every interview. At the same time, MR has become more of a commodity rather than delivering differential value to the end consumer. Still MR is being performed in mega cities and towns rather than pushing it to the rural economy which undoubtedly is the next biggest growth opportunity in our country for all the products/services. MR industry is also facing a crunch in having the right kind of people skilled with a good training background to understand the nitty gritty of the clients brief. Moreover, today’s most of the research work is being covered with a regular monitoring job like tracking, audience measurement, syndicated studies etc rather than with a specific problem. Another eaten away factor could be the nature of the industry which is fragmented and largely being driven by price factor worrying clients ranging from product’s to service industry. As a result, absence of talents due to low price factor has resulted in MR firms having a project to project assignment system where in they do the piecemeal job i.e. data collection and not the analysis which is done at the client side.
Also adding the factors like communisation of the information and the proliferation of smaller firms have led the industry not being able to get out of the talent-price circle. To get rid of this problem many MR Firms like TNS, Synovate or Nielsen is planning to arrange their own sets of training to fresh graduates for the industry. Nielsen has opened up its training centre near Mumbai with two years curriculum in the field of Market Research, similarly TNS is hiring from various backgrounds to notch up its mid-level research function. Another important factor could drive the market in future - data mining or statistical tools which could help the customers to understand the intricacies of the problem in a more simple term rather statistically define it.
Traditional Vs New Ones:
Every marketer possibly can count numerous number of advertising agencies but unfortunately this is not true for MR industry, as the industry is very fragmented in nature with many small firms on the spectrum and a few firms dominating the scene. Sadly, there is no studies available judging the ranks of the MR firms and left with more of a guestimate than on scientific calculations. The leading domestic firms are IMRB International, TNS India, Nielsen & Milward Brown etc. As per the Industry approximations, IMRB continues to be the market leader followed by Nielsen, TNS India & Others. Though there is a Society created by the market research professional, MRSI (Market Research Society of India) which has tried their best to get an agglomerative view on market research but has achieved modest success. Meanwhile, in the last couple of years the Industry has also seen the emergence of new sets of players namely Analytics, Data Mining or Warehousing firms like Absolutdata Systems, Annik Systems, and Datamation. Many of these firms earlier were Knowledge Process Organisations (KPO’s) who served foreign clients and now turning up to cater the local demand. There is another set of genre which has emerged during the past few years like HP Decision Analytics Firm or IBM Business Decision Centre or McKinsey Strategic Research Division providing their research based services to their parent companies adding values to their strategic teams. In fact what has been observed also in the past that many IT giants like Oracle, Microsoft has started expanding their own research resources within their marketing team for providing critical inputs on consumer behaviour to their strategic group. It is also observed that the consulting firms like PwC or Ernst & Young or KPMG has started advising their clients in giving them the end to end solution from sharing the market insights to conceptualization of idea’s to product designing and in turns creating lot of problems for the full service market research agencies to hold their clients.
New Tools & Techniques:
Besides the emergence of the improved data collection technique, there was a major rise towards analytics, data-mining and warehousing agencies during the last couple of years. Data warehousing is a technique to store and maintain the data that can be used for generating information and insights while data mining helps to draw a consumer insights from the large pool of longitudinal data series or a time series data. Many emergent sector like Telecom or Insurance which has grown phenomenally in the past, need these kinds of data sets to draw strong insights of their consumer behaviour towards the services of the same. There were also emerging opportunities like online research tool or business intelligence or MR outsourcing helping the clients to focus on their core competency by getting the right insights of information from their customers and thus increases the value of MR role in the decision making process. Though traditional players are enjoying a strong one to one relationship with their clients especially in the FMCG and Consumer Durable sector but these new set of genre with varied skill sets are giving lots of competition to the full services MR agencies.
Strategic Importance of MR:
In the Early years of 70’s, MR was a part of the Advertising (to gauge the advertising campaigns or launch). In the 80’s full-fledged agency had come into the landscape of research which contributed to efficient marketing management. Using different research techniques with the availability of varied statistical tools helped the marketing personal to measure the Socio Economic Strata or Ethnographic research. Later on, its scope got envisaged into various other issues like mapping the need of consumer demand, new product development or the new usage’s of the existing products, transform the industry from measuring ethnography to behavioural patterns. After the liberalization process in the early 90’s market research became even more critical where marketers can evaluate their marketing strategy based on the feedback from various segments of the market. Thus MR became one of the major component in the decision making process. But still there are lots of industries in India where marketing managers are relying on their team assessments rather on the scientific calculation of the market forces. Today, after the introduction of Internet (Social media) the entire landscape of the research has got changed with more and more real time data of the consumers getting tracked and thus further increasesing the value of the research work in the minds of the efficient and productive marketing managers.
Emerging MR Applications
It is a fact that research is the only method to discover the latent need and demand of the consumers, suggesting way and means to marketers to serve the potential and targeted consumers in the most profitable and economical way. Research includes service marketing, services quality, CRM, relationship marketing or database marketing applications. Applications of market research will help the service firms acquire more information on the new and unmet demands of the consumers, perceived service quality, closing the gaps in the services delivery and thus improving the quality of the services. The new age has immense potential to get real time information about consumers and to service them accordingly. For example, Wal-Mart India is getting the information on every consumer entering their retail shops or Pantaloons gets more critical sets of information about the buying behaviour of their consumers in their stores through observation with the help of videos or high end web cameras. Many automobiles companies are using social media channels to analyse the behaviour of their potential customers.
Driving Value Chain
Though FMCG continues to be the mainstay of the MR business (almost in the tune of 65-70% of the total pie), new sectors like Telecom, Insurance, Retail and Banking are now becoming the high growth areas for most of the research firms. Till few years back, most of the clients do not seek MR advice because they do feel that the guts of their marketing and sales people hold true in most of their transactions. But increasing unpredictability has led many more clients to understand their consumers better and hence there is a change in the attitude towards the MR firms. Also, MR companies are now moving from being a mere data supplier to becoming a partner with the client to build up a long term agency like relationship. MR firms should start looking into building consulting assignments from the existing studies to cater the same client with valuable & critical inputs rather plain vanilla market research. There is a direct competition from the emerging online search options wherein the customers gets every bits of information within seconds, so MR should spruce up its data collection and analysis tools so as to get the confidence of its customers with the MR works. MR firm should also understand that today’s CMO doesn’t has ample time to sit back and think rather they trust research firms who know their business and deliver the value accordingly.
Career in MR
Even though the industry is small in sales turnover and fragmented in nature, still there are options for one to grow and make a career in the field of market research. Don’t forget this is also a part of the service industry which is contributing almost 60% of our nation’s economy. There are interesting jobs available for people with a background in Statistics, Psychology, and Management in the field of MR. Even graduates who have a flair for doing field work can find a suitable opening in the field of MR. Some of the positions which are available in a full service market research firms are like Research Executives, Statistical Analyst, Field Supervisors, field staff etc. Contrary to sales oriented people belief that this would not be their cup of tea, lots of MR firms are now clinching people from the Sales and Marketing experience to get more clients in their kitty especially in the mid and senior level function. It is also possible for the qualified people to start their own venture as a market research agency.
Undoubtedly, the market research has travelled a long journey from piggybacking advertising job to the mainstay of the decision component of one organization. Market research seeks to align the enterprise with the expectation of its consumers and delivering value with its systematic analysis of the information captured. Although there were lots of changes in the past the way research is being carried but off course the IT enabled market research is a new trend which propounds ways to maximize an enterprise’s returns in the newly emerging liberalized market in India. Now is the time for the MR agencies to reap the ever growing and burgeoning customers with rapidly changing lifestyles through research work, so that Indian Marketers could be more productive, result oriented and globally the best workforce to cater the demands of their consumers. Finally, 3C strategy namely Convince, Convert and Collaborate as formulated by MRSI (Market Research Society of India) helps to take the industry into to new heights by breaking the barriers and thus increasing its share in the Indian Economy.