China Insights

Digital opportunities to win consumers along Belt and Road Routes

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Digital 19.10.2017 / 17:50

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Kantar TNS global research helps brands understand how consumers along Belt and Road Routes are connected to digital their life.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (hereinafter referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative) has been initiated by Chinese government to uphold the global free trade regime and the open world economy. An inclusive and joint project for countries around the world, especially more than 60 markets along the Belt and Road routes, it taps market potential to promote mutual investment and consumption, create demand and job opportunities among the peoples of the relevant countries.

Kantar TNS’ annual Connected Life study surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries, among them are 28 countries on the Belt and Road routes, in addition to Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. This presents brands, especially Chinese firms with overseas expansion ambitions, a strong platform to understand how consumers in Belt and Road countries are connected to the digital world, exploring digital opportunities for brands to realize growth.

The 28 Belt and Road countries covered by 2017 Connected Life report are scattered across five “corridors” of the Belt and Road routes:

1. Russia and Mongolia from Mongolia-Russia Corridor with a total population of 147 million;

2. 13 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania and UK) from Eurasia Corridor with a total population of 470 million;

3. Saudi Arabia and Turkey from Central Corridor with a total population of 112 million;

4. Six countries (Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) from IndoChina Corridor with a total population of 365 million;

5. Five countries (Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, UAE and Israel) from Maritime Route with a total population of 289 million.

When we talk about connectivity, we should start from the number of devices consumers use to link with the digital world, such as smartphone, laptops, desktops, tablets, gaming consoles, etc. Connected Life data showed that consumers along the Maritime Route own the fewest connected devices on average (1.6 per person), only half of those from Eurasia Corridor, who own the most (3.1 per person). 

There are also big differences in the amount of time people spend online among these countries. Consumers along the Mongolia-Russia Corridor spend the most time online: 5.8 hours a day on average. But their primary device is still PC (58%). On the contrary, consumers throughout the Maritime Route spend the least time online each day (3.7 hours), but they are the most mobile population as 88% of their connected time came from mobile phones. Brand Owners need to understand these consumer habits in order to design their advertising for the right types of devices.

During this survey, Kantar TNS also asked people’s willingness to engage with brands in the digital world. By combining this answer with the length of their online time, we can segment consumers into four groups: Functionals (short time online, low engagement), Connectors (short time online, high engagement), Observers (long time online, low engagement), Leaders (long time online, high engagement). Leaders, especially the most active and social sub segment of Super Leaders among them, are the most digitally-savvy consumers. They are highly social, creating and sharing content and engaging with brands. The Super Leaders are likely to be the earliest of adopters, the influencers and the trend setters in these countries.

2017 EN Connected Life Segmentation

Kantar TNS Connected Life report showed that more than 300 million consumers throughout the Belt and Road routes are Leaders/Super Leaders. To unlock brands’ growth potential in these countries, it is apparent that digital platforms offer a great opportunity to win over these Leaders/Super Leaders.

“The Belt & Road Initiative represents an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese businesses to take their brands to consumers of the world. Among the consumers in these countries, 22% of them are ‘Leaders/Super Leaders’, meaning they spend a lot of time online and want to engage with brands digitally,” said Sacha Cody, Kantar Global Account Director. “We have also seen that across these countries, digital media has the lions’ share of time when it comes to media consumption. This means that Chinese businesses need to understand their digital behaviour of their target consumers. Similar to China, television advertising just isn’t sufficient to win the hearts and minds of people anymore.”

Kantar TNS Connected Life report also offers more insights of Belt and Road consumers’ digital behaviour, such as:

• What are consumers’ practices when it comes to e-commerce?

• What are the e-commerce opportunities for brands?

• To what degree are consumers engaged in social media and how can brands influence them through it in different countries and cultural environments?

Kantar TNS is going to host three free webinars on October 25 and November 1. You are more than welcome to join us as we draw from Connected Life to explore how to connect with consumers via different media touchpoints and the role of brands in their digital lives.

To register, please click here .

Source: Kantar, Kantar TNS

Editor's notes

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