What the Wealthy Want

12 years, 6 months ago


Market research across Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan has provided fascinating insights into what motivates prosperous customers in the region. By Zhenya Pankratieva.

The world financial crisis has changed not only the global economy – it has affected traditional market processes as well. People have become more selective in choosing products and services and watch what they spend money on more carefully.

Thus traditional approaches to promoting goods do not work well enough. Usual marketing tools have turned out to be very expensive and quite useless at times. Customers are not buying products anymore just because they are innovative, prestigious or stylish – they purchase only the goods they trust. It is reputation that has a high value.

So in Noblet Media CIS (one of the largest full service media agencies in the CIS region) we asked ourselves: what is it our target audience wants to hear in order to trust the product? And what are the best means to communicate this desirable message? To find the answers, we needed research to be done.

Three-country research

In 2009 we conducted Research of Trust to Business among Prosperous Customers (Research). The Research was done in three countries – Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. We chose these countries for two reasons.

First of all, this region is rapidly developing and looks very promising from a PR point of view. And secondly, Noblet Media CIS already operates in these countries and is planning to expand its operations there in the near future.

Despite the global crisis, last year was successful for us. While companies cut down marketing budgets many top managers placed their hopes on PR instruments – effective and not very expensive. That is why in Noblet Media CIS we have even increased our operations and expanded our clients’ portfolio. We consider that this is high time for PR to grow and to take significant share in companies’ promotion plans.

So PR agencies need both to offer effective, innovative solutions and to develop new instruments as well. This will enable them to do the job at an even higher level. And today Noblet Media CIS is ready to offer the market a new tool.

Targeting the rich

We decided to study Prosperous Customers (PCs) as our target audience because of several reasons. PCs usually occupy management positions in the companies and make decisions about purchases and investments. They are also customers themselves with rather high income.

PCs are well informed and educated, that is why they are usually opinion leaders for the rest of the population. Our Research defines PCs as people whose income enables them buy food, clothes and expensive purchases like TV sets or fridges with or without saving up (borrowing). Taking into consideration that most of Noblet Media CIS clients are the world’s largest brands, PCs are potentially our target audience and we need to know what it is they want to hear.

Several words must be said about the countries under study. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan belong to the former USSR republics and count less than 20 years of independence. And while Ukraine is best described as a rather politically unstable new democracy, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are characterized by strong autocracy. Approaches to business are different in these countries, thereby building trust for a brand or a product should be done in different ways.

Belief in the state

Prosperous customers in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan (just as the rest of the population there) note that they trust the state and believe that state authorities can either increase or decrease the price of the product. However, PCs in Ukraine do not tend to trust the state (only 8% of the Ukrainian respondents say they trust local authorities) and believe that if the state interferes with business it can only increase prices.

In general, Ukrainians tend to trust business much more than the state. However in all the three countries the majority of respondents claim that if the government interferes with the business, they will support the government. And only PCs involved directly with business (e.g. private entrepreneurs) trust it much more than the rest of the respondents (true for all the three countries).

Speaking about the type of the company PCs trust, one can name high tech companies, industry and energy enterprises. Meanwhile trust in the insurance and banking sector is quite low in all the three countries (in Kazakhstan prosperous customers do not trust pharmaceutical and medical companies as well). The majority of respondents (over 70%) noted that they trust international companies more than local ones. But whether the company management is foreign or local is not important to them.

Most PCs (around 70%) buy only the goods of the companies they trust and more than one third of the respondents admit overpaying for the trusted products. Many PCs recommend actively the brands they trust to their friends and colleagues.

Trust factors

Among the factors that build trust in a product or a brand, Research respondents listed efficiency, usability, reliability and nature and ecology friendliness. Among the least important factors named by prosperous customers were the popularity of the brand, style, design and prestige.

In Azerbaijan PCs prefer foreign products while in Ukraine and Kazakhstan our target audience purchases local goods more willingly. However in all the three countries respondents of middle and elderly age with lower income prefer locally produced goods to foreign ones.

Speaking about foreign goods, almost all the respondents admit preferring local products to those manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, India or China, meanwhile goods produced in Western Europe are the most preferred by PCs in all the three countries. Prosperous customers in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan respect Russian goods greatly while Ukrainians prefer products from the USA (this can be also explained by the political course of the countries).

The Research has shown that prosperous customers trust only certain qualities of the product. So while formulating "the right" message PR professionals should emphasize certain aspects. PCs trust not only the quality of the product and service – though this factor is still important – but note that the company they trust should be personnel-, law- and environment-friendly. PCs also pay great attention to the social responsibility level of the company.

Politicians lack persuasiveness

Despite high credence to the state among Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan PCs, politicians are not among their opinion leaders. It’s the same situation in Ukraine. PCs in all the three countries name scientists, independent experts, friends and peers (namely those working in the same sphere, of the same age and income) among their opinion leaders.

Kazakhstan PCs also respect those who share the same political views. In Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan peers is the most respected group. In these countries prosperous customers trust personal relations more than any other opinion leader.

In all the three countries the news is usually shared and discussed in family or professional circles. A third of those polled say they trust information at once if it comes from a reliable source. Another third of the respondents admit that they need to hear information at least twice from a trusted source before they believe it.

It was not a surprise for us that in all the three countries PCs state that television is very important. Most prosperous customers admit that they find out news from watching TV. As another reliable source of information the respondents name specialized magazines. 40% of the polled also read the weekly business press regularly.

Radio is very widespread in all the three countries. About 50% of PCs admit listening to it every day. Internet is getting more and more popular especially among Ukrainians. 50% of the respondents in Ukraine say they go on the Internet daily (in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan over 30% of PCs name Internet as one of their basic sources of information). 30% of respondents in Ukraine also say that the blogosphere is trustworthy. This means that the majority of Ukrainian PCs trust Internet more than business press or TV news. In all the three countries young people with higher income and the better educated use Internet more often than the rest of the target audience.

In summary

So having studied the Research results in Noblet Media CIS we made a short summary of what messages must be used in order to succeed in promoting companies or products in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

The best way to present a company to the region is to make it sound as an international or European stable company with longstanding traditions. In order to generate trust the company should be socially responsible, environment friendly with a good attitude to its own employees.

A product that will be well-perceived by the market should be presented as energy and money saving, naturally produced, environment friendly, strictly corresponding to the international standards with an excellent reputation (long time in the market, reliable). If the product is produced in Western Europe or locally it is also important to communicate this fact to the general audience.

Speaking about means of communication – PCs in all the three countries prefer information received in journalistic or analytical format (namely business press, expert opinion, etc). Involving professionals or experts in the field into communication process is also quite desirable. The most effective way to deliver the right message to prosperous customers in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan would be business press, Internet and television news.

2009 Research of Trust to Business among Prosperous Customers conducted by Noblet Media CIS in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan provided the agency professionals with a very useful tool. It has given us a clear understanding of what the target audience wants to hear and what the best means of delivering the right message are. Noblet Media CIS already uses the Research in its daily practice and is going to conduct it every year. We also expect that PR specialists and agencies operating in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan will use the Research as their basic guide to communication with prosperous customers while it contains all the necessary information for developing the most effective solutions.



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The Author

Zhenya Pankratieva

Zhenya Pankratieva is CEO of Noblet Media CIS.

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