Kalyanmoy Chatterjee defends the Indian MR Industry’s Growth and elaborates on its future progression in this discussion

Market research methodologies have evolved globally. What are the major changes you have observed in the past few years?
The biggest challenge in India is our diversity. We have 22 official languages and 399 dialects. To do a pan-India study, the physical effort to reach various people is difficult. So until and unless you have a large infrastructure, you can’t do that. Globally, what has happened is that primary data collection by face to face interviews has been replaced by online and telephonic interviews. In most western countries, the data is collected from the web where they have large internet panels. In India, the internet penetration is high in terms of having the 3rd largest number of users but the normal consumers don’t use the internet as much. However, it is growing slowly. Today, we have 650 million plus mobile phone users, many of them are smartphone users. In the next 3 years, you will see many interviews being taken from mobile phones as well as online. It has started happening in India and has happened in many other countries. For example, in Japan, no one takes a face to face interview anymore.

To what extent have Indian companies adapted to research techniques that leverage online media in the era of smartphones and social media? How has it evolved for GfK-MODE?
In India, the market research industry in terms of technology is at par with global industry. It’s not as if we are doing a older generation market research. Online is picking up slowly and therefore the Indian market is now adapting to the online methodology. So whether it is an Indian company or an MNC; in India, they are using the same technology. Online is basically the method of collecting data. The basic research techniques and the statistical tools, which are used remain the same. For an example, earlier I used to go to you and take the interview; but today, I will contact you online. Because they are not face to face, there are certain constraints that remain. For instance, I can’t show you a sample, but you can see a visual online.
As businesses face greater uncertainty, how have their expectations from MR firms changed?
If you look at global uncertainty, in 2008-09, the west was bleeding. Business declined and people stopped recruiting. However, India was not that badly affected as Indian growth is led by our own consumption. And therefore, even if there is a slowdown in Europe or America, the impact on India would be much less. However having said that, there are global companies whose budgets were slashed by 10% in 2009-2010. Such things will happen but won’t affect the Indian MR industry in any major way. When it comes to client expectations nowadays, everyone wants things to be fast. Earlier they used to give us 6 month time spans to do a study and today, we get one month for the same. There are times when they want the answers in three days. People are looking at value addition to market research. MR actually started during the 1970s, when statisticians collected data scientifically. When we started in 1981, our positioning was that we are information scientists and not data collectors. So from the data, you need to take out the meaning, which will help clients take the right decision. That has become far more relevant today.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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21/8/2012 12:33:25 am

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