BBDO’s global study on the effect of the slowdown on consumers across markets reveals what is a known fact – buoyed by the support networks of family, community and social engagement practices, Indians seem to be coping much more positively with the economic challenges and are more confident about their long term futures than their American, Asian and European counterparts. These values have served Indian well through this crisis, and are most likely to prevail for the foreseeable future.
The study was unveiled at a press meet in Mumbai on November 10, 2009. Also present on the occasion was Chris Thomas, Chairman and CEO, BBDO Asia, who said, “This study shows the Indian consumers to be more confident and optimistic about the future than most markets. This offers opportunities for brands to engage in a more meaningful way and also highlights the increasing importance of community, causes and word of mouth, which are particularly relevant in the Indian market.”
Speaking on the occasion, Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India, said, “These findings impact communication and the way we speak to consumers. The medium truly becomes the message. You can’t have a ‘one medium catches all’ approach. There is a need for greater non-traditional formats. These demand a more consumer intuitive sense of media rather than just hard numbers.”
The study was conducted in 15 markets involving 15,000 consumers. This is BBDO’s first ever study on the impact of recession on consumers. As Thomas put it, this study would help BBDO offices and their clients across the world with an idea of the underlying trends in consumer behaviour in different markets, keeping the recession in mind.
The study sought to go beyond the traditional financial and economic analysis of the crisis to reveal the effects on consumers and their differing responses across markets. The results are revealing. Like other markets, Indian consumer confidence was hit. However, the BBDO study shows that Indians are once again exhibiting their renowned resourcefulness in response to the economic challenges of the last few months. With less support and protection from modern institutions of government and corporations, Indians’ financial confidence has been more shaken than the trade figures would have us believe.
The response in Asia has been to seek refuge and comfort in social values, family and religion. The data shows a clear upswing in religious activity in many Asian markets, especially India. It also shows they are more likely to want to spend more time with their families, more likely to spend money on gifts, festivals and investing more in acts of generosity. There is also a marked upswing in Asia of environmental awareness.
The study further reveals that an astounding 62 per cent of Indians would be willing to buy fewer items of better quality, even if it meant spending more. Sixty-five per cent of Indians try to save money through environmental practices, while over 50 per cent of Indians now seek word of mouth and opinion more when they buy.
The demand side recovery will depend on consumer confidence. The study clearly shows that confidence is greater in Asia, but there are opportunities for brands across all markets to understand the new psychological framework that exist in the consumers’ minds one year on from Lehman.
Key attendees at the discussion that followed the presentation of the study included Ajai Jhala, CEO, BBDO India, Josy Paul and Sangeet Pillai, Planning Director, BBDO India.