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Synovate India: Making India a research gateway to the world
As a consumer who is exposed to multiple options when hunting for a brand or experience of his choice, the task of opting for the best often becomes arduous when there are multiple players who queue up to offer a similar offering. At such times despite the gamut of resources at hand, it becomes difficult to analyse what’s the best solution that would make a difference to the way we consume that experience or the brand. But if a research agency had to step in and suggest a trend or analysis and the benefits that would accrue thereof, it would make the job of convincing the elusive consumer almost a cakewalk.
Realising the true potential that research agencies bring along with them, brands are today rushing to them with ideas that range from the obsolete to the extraordinary. This trend has led to a surge in the number of research agencies who are rushing to the marketers’ aid with solutions that are truly out-of-the-box. One such research firm that has made a name for itself in India is Synovate India that has been carving a niche in the highly segmented customised space. The results of its above-par performance could be seen in the growth of the company that was well above the industry standard for the year 2010.
Says Mick Gordon, Managing Director, Synovate India, “We’ve had a tremendous year in 2010 - growth in the order of 40 per cent. We are excited about growing in excess of the rate of the industry, which was an approximate 20 per cent or so. We are expanding our staff well to support the growth. We are over 250 people now in India across our sites in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.” This is just a fraction of its global staff number that hovers around 6000 plus with presence in 64 countries. It’s most recent office was opened in Vietnam.
On his fondness for the Indian market, Gordon said that one of the good things about the Indian market is that apart from the growth story, the company is also utilising the expertise and capabilities that are available in India to service the rest of the Synovate community globally. “In Bangalore, we have a staff of over 100 people; we’ve upsized for the third time in the city in a year. We are also expanding in Mumbai and Delhi. What is striking about India is that we have an incredible wealth of intelligent and highly skilled young people,” he says.
Apart from healthcare, financial services, automotive – private vehicles, commercial, agricultural vehicles that have been reporting robust growth for the company, the other key sector of interest is the fast moving consumer goods or the packaged goods market. “We pride ourselves in being experts in testing new products, new concepts across a wide group of packaged goods and also consumer durables as well. There is a lot of money being spent on television sets, computers, ACs, etc so this results in us getting a lot of work for companies from Korea, Japan, etc,” said Gordon.
Counting the hinterlands too
Having made their mark in the key metros of India, the next big focus area for the group is the hinterlands – or rural areas, as the marketers would like to call it. “One shouldn’t underestimate the continued significance of the big Tier I towns and even Tier II, but there are a number of clients that are looking out right into the rural community.” Not that the company does not have any presence there. In fact, Synovate India has field centres in 14 locations across India. From those field centres, there are field teams that work out in rural communities within states locally. “That’s something we are continuing to develop because when you are working with agrochemical businesses, with social research areas and the others the community you want to talk to are out and active in the rural area,” assures Gordon.
Moving forward, Synovate is very optimistic and excited about what can be achieved in India. “India has been identified as one of Synovate’s gateway market which means that it is seen as a priority market to provide services to our major clients. This requires substantial investment to ensure we can achieve that in the most effective way possible. Our plans are to make key investments in resources to ensure that we have the expertise across our offerings – in terms of our resources, infrastructure and even physical infrastructure.”
Of the 10-12 gateway markets that are important for Synovate globally, India definitely is one of the hottest markets to watch for. But the challenge would be to bring it in the top 3 category, an occasion that Mick Gordon and his team have been working relentlessly towards. But India is a land of opportunity, and as they say, nothing is impossible.