How to handle social in Iran
Kantar TNS’ latest study has identified ways to reach Iranians more effectively, says Satish Dave
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.