User Research in the BRIC nations

User research in the BRIC nations

Emergent economies represent a massive opportunity for many businesses with the so-called BRIC states (Brazil, Russian, India and China) making up a significant chunk of this potential as they expand and develop. Estimates suggest these countries will have 1 bn middle-class consumers by 2015 and China’s middle-class will rise to a staggering 45% of the population – a massive proportion compared to just a few years ago.

These markets though are not necessarily homogenous with their North American or European counterparts and they might respond differently to marketing communications and web content.

Value of user research

The growth of this middle-class buying power in these markets is driving a lot of the spending on what are designated as luxury products, maintaining global stability in the marketplace for such items. It is projected that by 2020 these emergent markets might account for as much as 73% of spending in the segment. So how can businesses break into these markets and find out what drives demand and what sorts of products and offers consumers there respond to?

As so often, the answers lie in research.

Differentiating user research

Individual markets offer different sorts of challenges and the attitudes of consumers and authorities to the web and social media vary greatly.

Though a rise in the middle class is fuelling demand in the Chinese market the country has an ageing population and there is a good deal of conservatism (and scepticism) in government and the older generation generally. Parents and grandparent might not view online developments with the same enthusiasm and positivity as their offspring. An understanding of the social and cultural differences and pressures is, therefore, necessary if you want to break into these markets and cultivate a healthy business presence there.

Online user research

On the ground research in these places might not be practical for your business, though there are sources of generic information produced by research agencies and consultancies that might be useful to you in making broad assessments and setting a framework for your own research. There is a plethora of tools available for online user research including software that allows the researcher to see the facial expressions and hear what the customer has to say as they work through online tests. (Though this might be of limited use to you if it is in Mandarin!)

User research tools and techniques

While there is a barrage of tools and techniques that you can use yourself to measure and assess these markets there are often unknown factors which can influence the baseline assumptions and inform and add detail to findings if the cultural and social context are fully engaged. Therefore it is advisable to have someone familiar with the markets to devise, execute and interpret your research.

We have vast experience in a wide range of international user research and have helped dozens of clients in constructing and orienting their websites to get the maximum impact and return from specific countries If you are looking to break into any of these markets why not give us a call free on 0800 0246 247 or drop us an email at

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