Now, with increasing mobile Internet penetration in emerging countries, there is finally an opportunity to access those in the lower socioeconomic classes through their smart phones – and even their low-tech feature phones. In the July edition of Quirk’s magazine, we shared how, despite some technical limitations, our mobile study on Indonesian consumers’ painkiller preferences produced very useful results.
Working with what they have
“More than 70 million people with lower incomes are crossing the threshold into the middle class each year; virtually all of them reside in emerging economies. By the end of the decade, roughly 40 percent of the world’s population will have achieved middle-class status by global standards, up from less than 20 percent today.
The rapidly growing ranks of middle-class consumers span a dozen emerging nations, not just the fast-growing BRIC countries, and include almost 2 billion people who spend a total of $6.9 trillion annually. Research suggests that this figure will rise to $20 trillion during the next decade – about twice the current consumption in the United States.
Those in the lower socioeconomic classes (SECs) of developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America may not have a lot of purchasing power now but they represent a rapidly-growing market. For many multinational companies, these lower-income consumers present a key business opportunity. To ensure that companies can sell their products and services to this demanding group, it is important to use research to understand their preferences.
With limited Internet penetration in many markets, targeting lower SECs is typically a difficult task. Running research online can be close to impossible because of the difficulty in securing a representative sample, as the PC and laptop are much less prevalent than mobile phones. Hence, researchers often turn to face-to-face interviewing instead. This method of recruitment can be costly, time-consuming, labor intensive and often unrepresentative of the total market due to the logistical constraints of in-person interviewing.
Although desktop Internet reach is limited to reaching around 600 million people, current mobile Internet access is at 2 billion and growing. And the number of smartphone users is expected to reach 4 billion by 2020; that’s 80 percent of the adult population on Earth! As the gap between mobile and PC continues to widen, mobile is quickly replacing the laptop as the main channel to the Internet.
Now, with increasing mobile Internet penetration in emerging countries, there is finally an opportunity to access this target group through their smart phones – and even their low-tech feature phones…”