'Market research biz in India is Rs 10 bn'

Market research biz in India is Rs 10 bn
Posted on 15 February 2012

Majestic MRSS has launched in India, hoping to fill in the gap of a quality independent local market research agency. Its cutting edge: supplementing research with technology.

For the multi-country market research agency and business intelligence firm, the key verticals are media, packaged goods, finance, pharma, auto, IT and telecom.

The market research business in India is worth Rs 10 billion and growing at 15 per cent. Majestic MRSS feels that with its entry, the growth will be faster.

In an interview with‘s Ashwin Pinto, MRSS co-founder Sarang Panchal talks about the key challenges that market research companies face and how people are willing to pay big for quality research.



Q. Do you think this is the right time for you to enter the Indian market or you are late ?

Clients used to ask us why we weren’t here.We feel that the Indian market is ready for us. The Indian market

wants a quality independent local market research agency to meet its needs. We have become a large company globally as we are up to date on technology and are also quality conscious.

We will formally launch our service next month. Some of the technologies that we have used in the last decade is being brought to India. We are supplementing research with technology. This way the kind of information that you get is faster and richer.


Q. How will your outfit stand out against other established market research organizations in India?

Our USP is that we are leveraging the use of appropriate technology - whether it is to collect better information or use information. Everywhere there will be technology which market research agencies do not use.

We believe Indian market research companies have not been able to use appropiate technology. Our cycle time to do research will be less. Through technology our people will be able to go anywhere.


Q. Could you talk about the new technologies you have?

The Focus Vision camera streams sessions. P&G in the US, for instance, can understand why an Indian housewife uses a particular detergent. Perception Analyser allows you to do research in any language. You can also use it on an illiterate person. It is a statistical tool and television channels among other companies use it.

Then there is the tablet. It is more effective than paper and pencil. Capi helps reduce time needed for fieldwork. Cati is a telephone surveying technique in which the interviewer follows a script provided by a software application. You can use this to go to posh houses to sell products like a Mercedes. Meanwhile, Eyetracker measures visual attention and emotional response. It tells you the impact of an ad. We come out with a new technological product every month.


Q. What is the business strategy?

Our aim is to build deep, meaningful relationships with clients. We are not a run of the mill agency. If a company like Accenture or McKinsey was to do market research, then their approach would be similar to us. The client comes first. Our aim is to make sure that clients achieve their targets. Many companies are not happy with the non customised factory-based approach that other agencies offer.

Our whole agency will revolve around the client. This means making all our tools available to the client. Clients will get cutting edge tools, research to help them launch new products, improve existing products. We will also help them understand the extension lines they can have.

"Sri Lanka is the cheapest priced market research place in the world, followed by India. The price needs to go up. It will go up only when clients see value"

Q. How does technology improve accuracy in terms of results?

Technology is about helping clients understand a different dimension. For instance, Eyetracker will tell a client what a consumer is drawn to. Is the logo, the writing or the brand endorser? Software helps the client understand better how a consumer behaves. One difference between us and the other agencies is that we have our own offices in the countries we operate in.


Q. Which are the key industry verticals that you focus on?

We will be doing media, packaged goods, finance, pharma, auto, IT and telecom. In media, we have done things like testing TV programmes. The Perception Analyser will tell channels what viewers liked in a particular show. Did they like the angle of the story or a particular star? This has been very successful abroad.


Q. Which are some of the clients you work with?

Tata Motors, Pepsi, Unilever, Sony, Kelloggs and Nissan are some of the companies that we work with. We have a strong presence in pharma.


Q. Which sector is the hardest to deal with as far as doing market research goes?

Packaged goods is the simplest. But I don’t think there is a sector that is very difficult. The challenge is when you talk to very high end consumers, but we are probably the only agency which can handle it due to technologies at our disposal.


Q. What potential do you see in India as a market?

The Indian market is developed. There are people who understand market research and who are willing to pay top dollars for people who supply good quality research. The market research business in India is worth Rs 10 billion. It is growing at 15 per cent but we think that we can make this grow faster.


Q. Has the definition and scope of market research expanded in recent years?

Yes! We include things like social media. We include technology that earlier was not available. We partner with other affiliates to introduce products that are not available here.

Q. Could you talk about how Majestic MRSS is expanding its presence globally?

We are looking at India first. We have six fully serviced offices in the country. We want to be the biggest independent local agency by the end of the decade. This is why we are focussing on long term relationships with big spenders. I would rather work with a few people and do a really good job of it than have 500 clients.


Q. What separates good market research from a mediocre offering?

The ability to give clients what they need to know rather than what you want to sell makes a big difference. We want to help clients grow their business by helping them understand their customers better.


Q. You have been in market research for over two decades. What are the two biggest changes you have noticed in this field?

Technology is certainly one. You can now do online and telephonic research. From a methodology perspective, life has changed. The second change is that the top layer of echelon is there across the country. I did not see this earlier. The same guys are buying jaguars and BMWs whether in the big cities or in smaller towns.


Q. What are the key challenges that market research companies face at this point?

The challenge is to offer quality research that people are willing to pay top dollars for. This has always been the challenge. Anybody can do inexpensive research. The effort should be to offer international quality research at incremental price points.

HR is also a challenge but that issue is there in any industry. Market research compensation is not as high as it should be but you can say the same thing for advertising. Anybody who joins us can go abroad as well. From a client perspective, the aim of our research is to expand their business. That is very clear.


Q. Is the economic downturn affecting the monies that companies are willing to spend on market research?

Not really! What we find is that people use this time to try and understand consumers better. They will do more research. Also research is not that expensive to do. India is one the lowest priced market research places in the world. Sri Lanka is the cheapest and India is the second cheapest. The price needs to go up. It will go up only when clients see value. Companies see value in market research but not enough. People cut expensive items, not inexpensive ones.


Q. In general how much of a client’s marketing spend goes towards research and are there sectors that spend more than others on research in order to understand consumers?

Around six per cent of a client’s revenue goes towards market research. Packaged goods spend the most on market research as they are used to it. Financial services are beginning to spend quite a bit. Telecom companies also spend. Media companies will soon begin to spend more. The aim is to understand the market, consumer, distributor, sales people, etc.


Q. Is the consumer more evolved and savvy compared to five years earlier?

Yes! Now with their exposure to social media, they will be even more evolved in the next five years. They will be even more demanding. People expect world class products and service from Indian manufacturers as they travel abroad.

People are exposed to those products and services and that lifestyle. Exposure to media, the ease of traveling abroad and the fact that people have relatives abroad in countries like Dubai, US Singapore is getting consumers more familiar with the outside world. This is fuelling demand for products and services.


Q. Could you shed light on how you will approach rural India?

With technologies, we can collate data easily. We are in a position to do research better than others in the tier three, four, five towns as we leverage technology. While we do work in the Metros, we can expand. Doing research in the smaller towns will be more manageable for clients when they use us. It will not be as cumbersome as earlier.


Q. In terms of companies using mediums as vehicles to reach consumers how is TV faring vis-?-vis radio, print etc?

Television is still there in the US, though online has overtaken print. TV has become big in India. Online is the market of the future in India. Right now penetration is not that high. Radio will still be there in rural markets. But print will have an issue as online grows.


Q. How is social media impacting market research?

Social media allows consumers to directly talk to brands. If a consumers are upset about pampers not being there in their area, they can put up the information on Facebook. In social media the task of market research is different; the job becomes analytical and technical. It is about using data to create a business opportunity; it is not about asking questions and getting information.

Social media has made traditional market research redundant. Our aim in social media is to make intelligent recommendations to clients. People express their views in a social media environment which is rich information. Everyone is underestimating the power of social media. Social media is developed but not many research companies service it in India. Abroad market research companies have been working in this space for four to five years to seek opportunities for businesses. We will be bringing products to India which will help clients leverage social media.


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