The changes are so fast, so dramatic and so wide ranging that it is difficult to keep up. Brand owners can see the changes in their sales figures and they get hints of the changes from local and ethnographic research, but how can they predict what is going to happen, how can they keep up with, let alone stay ahead of, the market?
This reminded me of work that we have done in other markets such as China, Turkey, The Philippines, when they too have experienced rapid political, economic, social changes.
Most data simply tracks the change – How do we predict it?
Quantitative data and most qualitative research simply tracks these changes retrospectively, leaving companies guessing what will happen next.
So what’s the solution?
If you can dig into the psychology of your consumers and understand how and why the political, economic and social changes affect their attitudes and actions you can then predict, with some accuracy, the continuing direction and speed of change.
Not all Markets are the same
As different markets change economically, politically, socially, they don’t all follow the same patterns, consumer behaviour does not follow a predetermined path. Religious, cultural, geographic, environmental factors all have a role to play in shaping how consumers adapt and change to different circumstances. Observing one type of behaviour in market A does not mean that Market B will respond in the same way to similar changes.
As we talk with our consumers we dive deep into their rational and emotional responses to the changes that are happening around them. We build a picture of how these changes impact them, of how they react to that impact. How their thoughts and actions are changing and, even more interestingly, to the limits of and barriers to these changes.
Legal, political, economic changes have multiple impacts upon the consumers in the market. Each individual adapts their behaviour in response to these impacts and it is the effects that these consumers’ responses have upon the market that changes the market conditions.
All too often we assume it is the economic or the legal change that has the impact. It is not. It is the response of the individual consumers that changes the market.
When brand owners understand the psychology of consumers they start to understand how and why they are responding to the change in the way that they are.
It is this that creates an understanding of the market and leads to more effective brand management, product and communications development and crucially gives you the advantage over your competitors.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional responses.