SURVEY: Know your customer!

By bne IntelliNews March 1, 2011

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Multinationals are looking toward the fastest growing emerging markets to fuel their growth over the next decade, so bne decided to carry out a wholly unscientific survey of young people in three of those markets in its region to find out more about today's most targeted consumers.

Which countries? With a plethora of emerging market acronyms to choose from, bne alighted on "The Eagles" (emerging and growth-leading economies) created by the Spanish bank BBVA. The Eagles comprise 10 countries, each of which is expected to contribute more to global GDP growth than the average of the G7 minus the US. Those 10 countries include the four giant economies of China, India, Brazil and Russia, as well as six others, namely South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Egypt and Taiwan. So for our list that's Russia and Turkey, then.

To this, BBVA adds a watch list of countries that could fly with The Eagles if their growth prospects, already very positive, improve in the coming years. These 11 countries in what BBVA, stretching the metaphor beyond what is probably reasonable, calls the "Nest" are: Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, Colombia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Argentina, Peru and the Philippines.

Et voila! Russia, Turkey and Poland now find themselves in a group suitable for bne's purposes. For each of these countries, a group of 20-some-things were surveyed about their ambitions, hopes, fears and, of course, shopping habits.


For any firm involved in the retail sector, evaluating consumers' brand awareness and brand loyalty is key. Judging from our survey, for foreign firms Turkey looks to be a harder sell than others. Less than 30% of Turks said they preferred foreign to Turkish brands, with the majority saying they preferred Turkish brands because they wanted to contribute to the Turkish economy. One 25-year-old male actually explained his reason for preferring Turkish brands as "nationalism," pure and simple.

Russians are much bigger on brands (as anyone who's done any shopping in Moscow can attest to), but perhaps the younger Russian consumer is not as besotted with designer gear. Our group seemed to be evenly split on whether brands were the most important criteria, with price being listed as just as important. However, like in another survey by CSLA of young Chinese, Indians and South Koreans found, the Russians surveyed said brand awareness and loyalty is especially important when buying electronic goods.

The Poles appeared the least interested in brands, with some saying they were familiar with brands - and just how familiar varied - while others said they didn't pay attention to them whatsoever or couldn't be bothered.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of those surveyed from all three countries said they are happy shopping online. Just 16-20% of the respondents said they didn't shop online, with one Russian saying, "Shopping online is not for me. I believe it's dangerous in our country." What do they buy? Mostly airline tickets, concert tickets and books. Given this, virtually all had a credit or debit card.

On ambition and career, the Turks seemed a pretty laid-back bunch, with few expressing concrete career plans for the future. Perhaps not unrelated was the fact that nearly all those surveyed had plans for further studies.

Likewise, the Russians were an academic lot, with most saying they wanted to gain a Masters or a PhD, but they were definitely more ambitious, with several saying they wanted to go into teaching and some leaning toward starting their own business - music to the ears of Russia's president, who is trying to encourage more entrepreneurship.

The Poles too showed a strong entrepreneurial bent, with about a third wanting to be their own boss, while others aimed also high, saying they wanted to reach management positions. The majority said they wanted to, or preferred to, work for small companies, but 16 stressed the importance of earning a decent salary and having a good standard of living as a priority.

Politics, though, was something not many wanted to think about or in some cases, particularly Russia, even discuss. The Turks seemed most positive on their

democracy, but none of the Poles had anything positive to say about their politicians, with many suggesting that they were only in it for the money. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's main opposition party, was singled out for particular criticism, with one suggesting he was "psychologically ill."

Even so, most of those surveyed in Russia and Turkey said they'd prefer to live and work in their home country, though a decent number said they'd be prepared to work abroad if the right job came along. The Poles, however, being part of the EU were much more likely to have already worked abroad.

Nearly all of those surveyed said they had travelled outside of their home country, with Europe, particularly Western Europe, a favourite destination. Unsurprisingly due to its geographical location, the Turks had a wider range of travel destinations, with many visiting the Middle East as well as Europe, while the none of the Poles had travelled beyond Europe, with Germany and the UK as the leading destinations.

The Turks seemed the most parsimonious, with almost half surveyed saying they were saving money. None of the Russians were saving anything, nor were many of the Poles. That's probably good for consumer credit companies, rather worse for the pension systems.

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