The Asia Research Breakfast Seminar Season

In June and July, Asia Research held two of its signature breakfast seminars in its core markets of Singapore and Indonesia. The seminars continue to reach new areas of research, with sponsors and speakers showcasing best practice and studies that have delivered more insight than usual.

The Singapore Breakfast Seminar – ‘New Media’

The Singapore seminar focussed on new media. Anthony Dobson, Media Director for the BDRC Group, discussed how video on demand (VOD) and a “re-invigorated piracy sector” are misunderstood in Asia.

Based on a recent consumer survey, BDRC found that among 18–65 year olds in Singapore, 60% are currently registered with a VOD service, which represents phenomenal growth given the relatively short time the players have been in the market. But the churn rates in this category are huge – in Indonesia, for example, one of the leading players has lost as many customers as it has acquired in the space of a few years.

One of the misconceptions of the VOD market is that it is a Millennial product. BDRC’s research showed that reach of VOD is actually higher with Gen X, e.g. families. While VOD was originally very much about demand for movies, the new demand these days is for documentaries, almost replicating the pay-TV packages that people have traditionally subscribed to. People are churning so much on VOD because VOD providers are running out of content to interest their audiences. So, while VOD is seen as a threat to mainstream broadcasters, it could actually be an opportunity for them to provide content to the VOD companies on a commercial basis, hence developing a new income stream for them.

To address the piracy issue, BDRC had to use a series of questions in their survey to get around people’s reluctance to talk about their personal use of pirated material. A lot comes down to question sequencing, which involves using a series of harmless questions in the survey followed by a difficult question, without the option of a back button. They also used indirect questioning called ‘blame a friend’, e.g. asking if they know people who use pirated content.

Another misconception is the view that piracy is mainly a problem in emerging markets. But actually the pirates follow the money, e.g. in terms of selling the pirated box sets. Based on the BDRC survey, piracy is common in the developed markets including Singapore and Hong Kong, and actually higher than in the emerging markets in the survey.

Piers Lee, Managing Director from BDRC Asia presented a paper jointly with Sally Wu, Senior Business Insight Manager at the BBC. Their paper on ‘the role of traditional media in the age of new media’ dispelled some of the beliefs about how new media is taking over media in general. Sally discussed how, in an age of fake news, consumers are increasingly relying on the leading media brands to validate the news as it breaks, backed by trusted in-country reporters. As demonstrated by the research, this level of trust in the media brand also provides a halo effect on the brands advertised on these news channels. Piers looked at how TV is still loved as a medium for news, giving a much better user experience over online, and providing a nice routine to consumers’ lives.

Richard Heath, Executive Director at Kantar Millward Brown, discussed the role of advertising in the age of new media. His paper focussed on content for advertising. Richard argued that clients these days are very excited about digital, but a lot of this excitement is because digital is also so measurable and therefore supposedly better placed to provide a measure of ROI in advertising. But in this obsession with measurement, e.g. click-through rates, we have lost sight of what makes ‘lasting impressions’ in advertising in terms of emotions and stories – the things that advertisers should be more concerned about.

In an era where 75% of consumers are actively trying to avoid advertising, it is even more important to create the content that people like. Richard’s paper talked about how most content still uses explicit messaging, e.g. rational product benefits, but instead adverts should communicate emotions and feelings – things that people will talk about and share on social media.

In a case study of an award-winning NTUC Income advert, it delivered the ‘meaningful differences’ that are so key to successful adverts these days. Traditional insurance adverts try to play on fear, but the NTUC Income advert turned this on its head and made it far more aspirational and fun. Other advertising examples used storytelling as a means of getting their messages across, again with a lot of ‘consistent emotions’. However, a major pitfall can be that advertisers get so involved in the story of the advert that the brand can be lost, meaning that the advertiser is just providing free content with no benefit to the paying client!

But in a good example from Adidas, the brand manages to be woven into the advert throughout and not just ‘flashed’ at the end.

Mani Padmanabhan, Country Manager for SSI, presented a paper on how to measure true ad effectiveness. John Wanamaker, pioneer of marketing, was famously reputed to have said that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Mani discussed why online advertising is different and an approach they are using to measure the effectiveness of online advertising. Common advertising effectiveness measures include ‘opportunities to see’, e.g. the target audience is watching the right programme or magazine within which the advert is placed.

The challenge for online is a lot about recall, e.g. it is almost impossible for people to recall the page on which they saw an advert and also it is hard to recall the time of seeing adverts because we are online almost all the time.

In order to emulate the ‘opportunities to see’ online, we need some tracking methods. Earlier tracking approaches, e.g. cookies and pop-ups can now be blocked, but SSI presented a method whereby they recruit a panel within their own access panel who are ‘willing to be cookied’. Various metrics based on passive data collection as well as primary survey questions can be matched against the profile of the consumer already held within their panel to provide effective online advertising measurement.

The Jakarta Breakfast Seminar – ‘Digital Indonesia’

Indonesia has been viewed as lagging behind most markets in terms of market research technology, for example the low reach for online research, low adoption of insight communities, and some of the latest technology such as eye tracking, neuro-insights, etc not being as common as in other markets.

But technology has a way of shortcutting development cycles, as shown by the high penetration of social media in emerging markets, and market research will be no exception. Already we are seeing advances in mobile-based surveys in Indonesia, with technology providers giving access to a broad range of consumers far and wide in Indonesia on both smartphones and internet-enabled feature phones.

So, to bring together what technology has to offer the Indonesian research market, Asia Research held its 7th seminar in Jakarta on the theme of ‘Digital Indonesia’.

The local office of BDRC Asia presented a paper on the use of video-based research. For too long market research in Indonesia has been based on pen-and-paper surveys, not only missing detail, but also being subject to errors and falsification.Using their BDRC Vision™ approach, a technology developed for a large banking mystery shop across Indonesia, cameras in mobile phones can be used to show the actual service interaction. BDRC Asia builds up a cloud-based video library whereby the client can view the service interaction at any branch for a specific product or service interaction. Specific ‘red flag’ outcomes, e.g. where a problem has occurred and can be identified by the centralised management office, who can take corrective action by accessing the video online.

This approach can also be used with real customers. Customers can be filmed as vox pops for them to express their views on the service interaction or what they think about the point of sale.

Kurt Thompson, Managing Partner of ABN Impact, presented the world of Insight Communities. Aghast at the current low penetration of such communities in Indonesia (reported by Asia Research in the same event at just 2%), Kurt presented the background to the development of Insight Communities by giving the consumer more room to talk about what is relevant to them as a customer, rather than being a “prisoner of a structured questionnaire”.

The argument is that the traditional linear approach to market research, e.g. 3–4 months of designing briefs, choosing vendors, fieldwork, analysis, and receiving a report, is too cumbersome and slow for today’s market. Kurt argued that successful brands need to engage directly with consumers in a “seamless integration of insights and ideas”. Insight Communities or Community Panels are like a sounding board of customers and potential customers who provide almost continuous feedback on the brand, the products, and services through a range of online methodologies. The community itself actually serves to build customer loyalty as it demonstrates that the brand is listening to customers and the brand cares about what they say.

When asked why there is such low adoption of these communities in Indonesia, Kurt commented that it requires a very significant change in research practices within the client organisation. Budgets for existing research programs can leave little for insight communities, even though these communities can replace many of the more expensive methods already taking up much of the client’s budget. As with many corporate changes, it requires that ‘leap of faith’ that many organisations are hesitant to make.