How to han­dle so­cial in Iran

Kan­tar TNS’ lat­est study has iden­ti­fied ways to reach Ira­ni­ans more ef­fec­tively, says Satish Dave

Campaign Middle East - - News -

Kan­tar TNS’s lat­est re­search shows why you need to talk Tele­graph to tar­get Tehran’s teens.

With new chan­nels of trade open­ing up with Iran, GCC mar­keters are wak­ing up to a con­sumer mar­ket that has re­mained largely un­tapped un­til now. One of the big­gest chal­lenges that busi­nesses in the Gulf may face when fo­cus­ing on the Is­lamic Repub­lic is the glar­ing ab­sence of the tra­di­tional tools of dig­i­tal and so­cial net­work mar­ket­ing – such as Face­book, Twit­ter, What­sApp and YouTube – that they could have used to touch base with their cus­tomers. How­ever, what Iran does pos­sess is a unique dig­i­tal eco-sys­tem that could po­ten­tially be­come the en­try point of choice for brands newly en­ter­ing the mar­ket.

A re­cent study by Kan­tar TNS has ex­plored the var­i­ous dig­i­tal me­dia op­tions that can build a plat­form for mar­keters. The in-depth re­search aimed to un­der­stand Ira­ni­ans’ life­styles needs, dig­i­tal behaviour and at­ti­tudes. The re­searchers soon re­alised the need to re-think Iran for all the work they do on the coun­try – sim­ply be­cause many have a stereo­typ­i­cal im­age of Iran, one that has also been shaped by sev­eral years of not be­ing di­rectly ex­posed to its con­sumers.

As part of a large global TNS ‘Con­nected Life’ study – of 58 coun­tries and 70,000- plus on­line con­sumers – Kan­tar TNS got a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse into Iran and the op­por­tu­nity to tap into the 68 mil­lion on­line users in the Ira­nian mar­ket. En­ter­ing a mar­ket so dif­fer­ent from the typ­i­cal re­quires one to have a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the pulse of its mar­ket­ing fo­rums. The study found:

Iran is a multi-de­vice, mo­bile­cen­tric mar­ket. While Ira­ni­ans use mul­ti­ple de­vices, close to 80 per cent of time on them is spent on mo­bile. This im­plies a clear need for a mo­bile-cen­tric dig­i­tal strat­egy.

A ma­jor­ity of their time is spent on dig­i­tal and so­cial, as op­posed to tra­di­tional me­dia. Dig­i­tal in­cludes mes­sag­ing, so­cial and en­ter­tain­ment or video plat­forms. Each of these plat­forms plays an im­por­tant and dif­fer­ent role in con­sumers’ lives, and brand strate­gies need to re­flect this.

Iran is unique given the al­most uni­ver­sal use of Tele­gram among those us­ing mes­sag­ing apps. What­sApp is a dis­tant sec­ond. Tele­gram is not lim­ited to con­nect­ing with friends and fam­ily, but is also used to fol­low news, events and on­line per- son­al­i­ties, and to be part of com­mu­ni­ties, clubs and com­mon in­ter­est groups.

Among So­cial plat­forms, In­sta­gram is pop­u­lar and there are a few lo­cal plat­forms for shar­ing videos.

More users are into TV than on­line videos. This sug­gests that a multi-for­mat and in­te­grated dig­i­tal strat­egy is im­por­tant but that tra­di­tional TV can­not be ig­nored.

Ira­nian on­line users like to up­load videos, photos and mu­sic. Mil­len­ni­als lead on­line video view­ing, so to con­nect to this au­di­ence brands need to look at cre­at­ing good, en­gag­ing and en­ter­tain­ing con­tent that can be shared. Brands need to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the na­ture of on­line video, tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to videos of celebri­ties com­pared with how they might lever­age the shar­ing of videos by friends.

Con­sumers in Iran are open to tai­lored on­line brand cam­paigns, and ad block­ing is low com­pared with global bench­marks. This sug­gests that if brands ex­e­cute an on­line strat­egy well it can have a good im­pact.

E-com­merce lev­els are un­der­stand­ably low. Mu­sic and travel/ ho­tels are cat­e­gories where rea­son­able us­age cur­rently exists. For e-com­merce to take-off – as it has in other mar­kets – in­fras­truc­ture, ser­vice and propo­si­tion as­pects need to be ad­dressed. Con­sumers need to get key ben­e­fits around cost, time, con­ve­nience, ex­clu­siv­ity and so on. This must be sup­ported by good in­fras­truc­ture, and pay- ment security is­sues need to be taken care of. Over­all, while tra­di­tional me­dia is still crit­i­cal, the dig­i­tal world of­fers brands a great op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with con­sumers. A com­bi­na­tion of so­cial, dig­i­tal and off­line me­dia, and con­sis­tent ex­e­cu­tion will help brands work through dif­fer­ent stages of the cus­tomer jour­ney: brand build­ing, brand ac­ti­va­tion, cus­tomer ser­vice and brand ad­vo­cacy. It is clear that mar­keters need to work with a dif­fer­ent dig­i­tal and so­cial me­dia strat­egy for Iran, con­sid­er­ing their use of spe­cific plat­forms and lo­cal­i­sa­tion of con­tent from a cul­ture and lan­guage per­spec­tive.

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