Re­veal­ing the four per­sonas of dig­i­tal con­sumers in Bulgaria and Ro­ma­nia

Top 100 See - - See Top Industries - By Alexan­dra Kalcheva, Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Man­ager, TNS BBSS

TNS is a global mar­ket re­search con­sul­tancy which ad­vises clients on spe­cific growth strate­gies around new mar­ket en­try, in­no­va­tion, brand switch­ing and stake­holder man­age­ment, based on long-es­tab­lished ex­per­tise and mar­ket-lead­ing so­lu­tions.

TNS BBSS is the Bulgaria-based re­gional hub of a group of TNS com­pa­nies in SEE, in­clud­ing Bulgaria, Ro­ma­nia, Ser­bia, Mon­tene­gro, Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina, Kosovo, Albania, Mace­do­nia and Moldova with part­ners in Slove­nia and Croa­tia.

In 2016 it is com­mon knowl­edge that the me­dia and dig­i­tal land­scape is frag­mented as never be­fore with in­creas­ing multi de­vice be­hav­iour, com­pli­cated path to pur­chase and new so­cial net­works dis­rupt­ing the sta­tus quo, while IM plat­forms swiftly shift to so­cial me­dia out­lets among the con­tin­u­ing prophe­cies for the im­mi­nent death of tra­di­tional me­dia. Such di­ver­sity poses a lot of chal­lenges to brands in defin­ing their cus­tomer seg­ments ef­fi­ciently, es­pe­cially when they op­er­ate a big port­fo­lio of prod­ucts on dif­fer­ent mar­kets.

In fact, such com­plex­ity of­fers the op­por­tu­nity of tar­geted ap­proach to­wards con­sumers in the era of in­creased dig­i­tal per­son­al­i­sa­tion, while the assumption that tra­di­tional dig­i­tal plat­forms are ousted from daily me­dia rou­tine once dig­i­tal comes into play is far from be­ing the ab­so­lute truth. It is true, how­ever, that there is a great de­gree of com­plex­ity in tar­get­ing the new type of con­nected con­sumer in a mean­ing­ful and ef­fec­tive way.

Over the past five years, TNS has un­der­taken ex­ten­sive re­search on me­dia habits, de­vice us­age and on­line be­hav­iour in just about ev­ery mar­ket and cat­e­gory on earth. We have re­vealed that at­ti­tudes to­wards dig­i­tal ac­tiv­ity and de­vice us­age are as im­por­tant as the ac­cess to them. True un­der­stand­ing of the po­ten­tial of the dig­i­tal scene comes at the cross­ing point be­tween ac­cess, us­age and at­ti­tudes and gives mar­keters a pow­er­ful tool for un­der­stand­ing dig­i­tal users' be­hav­ior and dig­i­tal mar­kets po­ten­tial. We were thus able to come up with a ro­bust and glob­ally com­pa­ra­ble frame­work un­der the Con­nected Life method­ol­ogy. We dis­cov­ered two di­men­sions that dif­fer­en­ti­ate con­nected con­sumers, and each of them has its own im­pli­ca­tions for how mar­keters reach them.

The first di­men­sion which we call “Dig­i­tal in­flu­ence” is the de­gree to which a con­sumer is con­nected through­out the day across mul­ti­ple de­vices; usu­ally it in­creases with im­prov­ing in­ter­net ac­cess. Typ­i­cally a higher de­gree of con­nect­ed­ness would re­sult in higher con­sump­tion of on­line video, a greater en­gage­ment with ECOM­MERCE, more multi-screen­ing and the use of mul­ti­ple on­line touch­points in the path to pur­chase. At the ex­treme, this also means a re­duced con­sump­tion of tra­di­tional me­dia. In short, this di­men­sion mea­sures the de­gree to which dig­i­tal is in­flu­enc­ing a con­nected con­sumer's life.

The se­cond di­men­sion – “So­cial In­flu­ence” is the de­gree to which so­cial (me­dia) con­nec­tion and con­tent is im­por­tant to a con­nected con­sumer. Do they feel the urge to check their Face­book sta­tus all day? Are they vo­cal on­line, or more voyeuris­tic? Are they likely to re­spond to branded con­tent in so­cial chan­nels? And in ma­ture economies, does so­cial play a role in the pur­chase jour­ney? Fun­da­men­tally, are they the type of per­son who em­braces so­cial me­dia, warts and all? By know­ing the an­swer to this ques­tion, you can de­ter­mine whether a strat­egy led by so­cial con­tent is right for your tar­get au­di­ence, or not.

When we look at the two di­men­sions to­gether, we end up with four dif­fer­ent per­sonas with core be­havioural char­ac­ter­is­tics that are re­mark­ably sim­i­lar no mat­ter which part of the world we are talk­ing about.

When it comes to dig­i­tal life­style in Europe, the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing line goes from North-West to South-East. Users in NWE have a higher level of dig­i­tal ac­cess but are less en­thu­si­as­tic about it, while those in SEE are still catching up on the dig­i­tal in­flu­ence but main­tain and as­pire more ac­tive dig­i­tal lives (chart 1).

The four per­sonas of Con­nected Con­sumers

In or­der to re­veal the specifics of dig­i­tal mar­kets in Bulgaria and Ro­ma­nia, we first need to de­fine the four per­sonas of con­nected con­sumers.

Lead­ers are al­ways set apart by their con­stant, en­er­getic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the vir­tual world, their cu­rios­ity about tech­nol­ogy and their heavy de­pen­dence on it. Lead­ers typ­i­cally form 30% of the on­line pop­u­la­tion across

Chart 1: Con­nected Life global seg­men­ta­tion mar­kets. In some Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries their share reaches 40%.

At the other end of the spec­trum are Func­tion­als, who typ­i­cally form an­other 30% of the dig­i­tal pop­u­la­tion in most mar­kets. Func­tion­als are slower, more cau­tious adopters of tech­nol­ogy, of­ten be­ing nudged along ei­ther by the need to keep up with the world or a con­scious aware­ness of tan­gi­ble prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits. A mea­sure of skep­ti­cism con­tin­ues to flavour their in­ter­ac­tions with the on­line world, and they are rel­a­tively re­luc­tant on­line shop­pers.

Ob­servers are highly cu­ri­ous about and en­thused by tech­nol­ogy, and take pride in know­ing about the lat­est in­no­va­tions. They are ex­tremely com­fort­able around tech­nol­ogy and en­joy be­ing able to fig­ure things out for them­selves. They dif­fer from Lead­ers by their lack of a sim­i­lar en­thu­si­asm for so­cial me­dia, so they are a niche group, whose adop­tion of dig­i­tal me­dia and de­vices has been driven by their in­ter­est in the func­tion­al­ity of tech­nol­ogy rather than so­cial en­gage­ment. Typ­i­cally, Ob­servers form around

10% to 20% of the on­line pop­u­la­tion.

Con­nec­tors are the op­po­site of Ob­servers, as their in­ter­ac­tion with the on­line world is driven pri­mar­ily by so­cial me­dia. They tend to form 15-20% of the on­line pop­u­la­tion in most mar­kets. They are not es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in hav­ing the lat­est de­vices, pro­vided the ones they have are good enough for ac­cess­ing so­cial me­dia and con­nect­ing with friends and fam­ily. In SEE, Con­nec­tors form a lower por­tion of the dig­i­tal pop­u­la­tion com­pared to the world av­er­age.

Con­nected con­sumer per­sonas in Bulgaria and Ro­ma­nia

In 2016 TNS BBSS re­vealed the seg­men­ta­tion of dig­i­tal per­sonas in Bulgaria and Ro­ma­nia by con­duct­ing quan­ti­ta­tive sur­veys rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the in­ter­net pop­u­la­tion in both coun­tries, fol­low­ing the global TNS Con­nected Life method­ol­ogy. The two coun­tries showed in­ter­est­ing dif­fer­ences, com­pared to SEE mar­kets and to each other.

The pre­vail­ing dig­i­tal per­sona in Bulgaria is Lead­ers who form al­most half of the dig­i­tal pop­u­la­tion - 47%, higher than what we see in most SEE mar­kets. Con­nec­tors form the smallest seg­ment with only 3%, be­low the global and SEE av­er­age. Ob­servers form 26% of the dig­i­tal pop­u­la­tion, higher than in most SEE mar­kets. The size of the Func­tional seg­ment is 25%. (chart 2)

We might be tempted to as­sume that those dig­i­tal con­sumers who be­long to the Lead­ers seg­ment are pre­dom­i­nantly the youngest dig­i­tal users. While this is the case for some mar­kets, nu­ances ex­ist. The demographic pro­file of the Lead­ers in Bulgaria sug­gests that the high­est per­cent­age of youngest con­sumers (18-24) in­deed be­longs to this seg­ment, com­pared to the other three. How­ever, their share of the seg­ment is 24%, the same as the share of the 35-44 year olds, while one third of Lead­ers are in the 25-34 age bracket. Given the pas­sion for the new­est dig­i­tal, which de­scribes this seg­ment, the rel­a­tively higher age group comes as no sur­prise as it also goes hand in hand with a cer­tain level of af­flu­ence, also con­firmed by the fact that Lead­ers have above av­er­age in­come and are pre­dom­i­nantly ur­ban res­i­dents (60%). The ma­jor­ity live in the cap­i­tal city and a third in the big ci­ties.

The dig­i­tal be­hav­ior of this seg­ment is flavoured by in­tense us­age of in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia. It is typ­i­cal for Lead­ers to look for in­for­ma­tion on­line, to re­search brands and prod­ucts, to browse fo­rums for prod­uct re­views. They also con­sider so­cial me­dia as a reli­able source of in­for­ma­tion. When it comes to brands, how­ever, only a third of them are con­nected to a brand pro­file in so­cial me­dia. Still, this is the high­est level of en­gage­ment com­pared to the other groups.

As far as e-com­merce is con­cerned, this is the seg­ment most open to this way of pur­chas­ing. Close to a third of Bul­gar­ian in­ter­net users claim to make on­line pur­chases of­ten (26%), while among the Lead­ers, this per­cent-

SEE still catching up on the dig­i­tal in­flu­ence, but users as­pire for more ac­tive dig­i­tal lives

age is 37%. How­ever, even among the most dig­i­tally ad­vanced there are 18% who are re­luc­tant to pur­chase on­line. The main draw­backs are not too dif­fer­ent from the con­cerns of the rest of the dig­i­tal users: safety and qual­ity con­cerns, need to see and touch the prod­uct be­fore buy­ing.

Ob­servers also have a very dis­tinc­tive demographic pro­file. Un­like Lead­ers, who have an equal gen­der split, males have a slight preva­lence in this seg­ment. Most of Ob­servers are 25-44 years old. This seg­ment has a strictly ur­ban pro­file with most of its rep­re­sen­ta­tives liv­ing in the big ci­ties and fall­ing into the av­er­age in­come ranges. As with Lead­ers, In­ter­net plays an im­por­tant role in their lives and they are ac­tively re­search­ing prod­ucts, re­views and post­ing com­ments but to a con­sid­er­ably lesser ex­tent than Lead­ers. Ob­servers are open to mak­ing on­line pur­chases, although less fre­quently than Lead­ers. While they share the same con­cerns re­gard­ing e-com­merce, they ex­hibit an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic more than any other seg­ment – im­pa­tience – they do not want to wait for prod­uct de­liv­ery.

Func­tion­als on the other hand, are pre­dom­i­nantly el­der fe­male (45-54) liv­ing in small towns and vil­lages, with low in­come. They ac­cess the in­ter­net rather rarely and do not rely on it as a pri­mary source of in­for­ma­tion. Although 60% of them have a Face­book pro­file, so­cial me­dia don't play a sig­nif­i­cant role in their ev­ery­day lives.

In Ro­ma­nia, the lead­ing seg­ment is Ob­servers with 37%, fol­lowed by Lead­ers with 36%, Func­tion­als with 25%, and Con­nec­tors with only 3%. (chart 3)

While the demographic pro­file of the seg­ments cor­re­sponds to that of Bul­gar­ian dig­i­tal users, their dig­i­tal be­hav­ior, even among the most dig­i­tally ad­vanced, has a slightly dif­fer­ent dy­nam­ics. Over­all, Bul­gar­ian on­line users main­tain a more dy­namic dig­i­tal life­style com­pared to their Ro­ma­nian coun­ter­parts. They ac­cess the In­ter­net through more de­vices, spend more time on­line and in so­cial me­dia and see them as reli­able source of in­for­ma­tion and en­ter­tain­ment. Bul­gar­i­ans are also more ac­tive in on­line pur­chases: half of Ro­ma­nian dig­i­tal users have never pur­chased any­thing on­line, com­pared to 33% of Bul­gar­ian


Ro­ma­nian Lead­ers main­tain a slightly lower level of over­all dig­i­tal and so­cial en­thu­si­asm as com­pared to their Bul­gar­ian coun­ter­parts: 74% of Ro­ma­ni­ans in this seg­ment claim to spend a lot of time on­line, com­pared to 83% of Bul­gar­i­ans; 44% share opin­ions on­line, com­pared to 36% in Bulgaria, and only 35% be­lieve they can trust in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia ver­sus 65% in Bulgaria. These specifics of at­ti­tudes and be­hav­ior will com­mand a tai­lored ap­proach to the Leader seg­ment in each coun­try de­spite the sim­i­lar­i­ties in their over­all char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Dig­i­tal and so­cial be­hav­ior in the rest of the seg­ments in both coun­tries does not re­veal sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences.

The seg­men­ta­tion of dig­i­tal users in Bulgaria and Ro­ma­nia re­veals mar­kets with very di­verse on­line pop­u­la­tion, re­sult­ing in on­line be­hav­ior pat­terns which vary by the mix of tra­di­tional and dig­i­tal me­dia, level of en­gage­ment with brands and so­cial plat­forms and spread of dig­i­tal ac­tiv­ity across de­vices. More­over, this mix varies across cat­e­gories. Hence, these mar­kets re­quire tiered mar­ket­ing ap­proach tai­lored to the dif­fer­ent per­sonas and the mix of per­sonas within each prod­uct and ser­vice cat­e­gory.

Bul­gar­ian on­line users main­tain more dy­namic dig­i­tal life­style com­pared to Ro­ma­ni­ans

Chart 2: Con­nected Life seg­men­ta­tion Bulgaria

Chart 3: Con­nected Life seg­men­ta­tion Ro­ma­nia

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