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Digital India – how does one research them

D730_220_digital_indiaBy the end of 2014, the total internet user base in India grew to approximately 214 million, with almost 130 million going online using mobile devices. Mobile internet users dominated the total internet user base capturing an overall share of 61 percent. (As per FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2014)

With the dramatic growth in mobile usage, content providers and advertisers are seeking opportunities to get their messages across on this preferred medium of the masses in India. Digital media advertising grew 38% faster than any other advertising category and is expected to grow by 55% in the year 2015.  Digital certainly has the attention of the marketers in India.

Mobile, social and video have emerged as star categories in digital advertising in India, owing to the proliferation of smartphones, 3G and mobile apps.

The above leads to a very pertinent question – are we researching this audience at all in India? The smartphone generation is quite unlikely to be caught at home by a face to face interviewer or come to a focus group in a three star hotel, where very often focus groups are conducted across India. The smartphone generation in India today consists of a lot of early adopters and influencers.

There are lots of reasons, but the truth is that not much is being done in India to reach this generation in a different way. The only new approach that some clients have been adopting has been MROC (Market Research Online Communities), but that’s a very limited market and is ideally fit for longitudinal research.

Following are four simple steps that should help in reaching out to this audience and understanding their thought process:

1.  Meet them – A lot of young people are on social media or spend time in places like Starbucks and Café Coffee Day. Get to talking with them, hear them talk and have an understanding of how they think and behave. Talk to them online and they will talk to you for sure. Make sure you are transparent about your objective of talking to them and they will likely respect you for the same.

2.  Think differently from traditional research – Usage of different phone apps is second nature to this audience. So use the apps on their phones to connect with them and you are likely to have a fairly clued in audience. Whilst online communities and apps do work with these audience, they do show reluctance to download apps from unknown sources. It’s easier to run a community with them using Facebook groups rather than use proprietary MROC apps. We had a client two years back who had a campaign which was aimed at young people. He wanted to research his target audience but he was clear that his audience wasn’t going to walk in for any focus groups, whatever the venue. We organised online focus groups using gtalk with students from top colleges in Delhi & Mumbai. He was able to get the kind of people he wanted and we got them in the environment that they were used to. So don’t be bound by traditional approach to research in India and think how you will successfully reach this audience.

3.  Play on curiosity – This audience needs a different approach to recruitment. They are likely to come for an online focus group or an online activity if you pique their curiosity.  So show them new concepts or new ads or an engaging discussion on a topic relevant to them and they will be encouraged to participate. You might need to have a different channel for recruitment than the traditional recruiter channels in India.  Again, social media would help in that respect and you can hire one or two of them as interns to recruit rest of the audience.

4.  Instant gratification – A younger audience has instant gratification literally in their DNA. So make sure you have bookmyshow or flipkart e-vouchers ready to reach them after the successful completion of the activity. Any undue delay and you might just have a torrent of complaints on your twitter handle.. So make sure to also get this part right with this generation.

So, as per KPMG estimates, the total internet user base will reach 494 million by the end of 2018 as against 938 million TV viewers in the same year. This means that the Internet’s user population will be approximately 53% of the total number of TV viewers in India in 2018. So there needs to be much more effort to research this audience in their natural habitat; after all, that is what India’s future looks like.

This blog post first appeared at: http://www.mmr-research.com/blog/digital-india-do-you-have-a-plan-to-reach-this-audience

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