Global Shopper Insights — Thoughts About My Speech At ESOMAR Next Week

Next week, on February 28, I will speak at the  ESOMAR Insights Conference in Brussels on 'The Evolving Online Consumer' and I'm currently organizing my thoughts around this topic. Looking at the uptake of the Internet globally, the numbers are impressive: In the past five years, the global Internet population has grown from about 1 billion to 1.6 billion, and this growth isn't about to stop any time soon. The Internet population will increase in every country in the world over the next five years, but emerging markets will grow at a faster pace. In 2014, one-third of Internet users will come from Brazil, Russia, India, or China (the so-called BRIC countries).

Companies that want to capture this growing number of online users — and their growing funds spent online — will need to look beyond the markets of North America and Europe and approach their online strategies much more globally. But emerging markets don’t just offer a lot of opportunities; there are also many challenges to consider. On top of the needs and wants of the consumers in the different countries, their online behaviors, and the way they are being influenced (and are influencing others) in their purchase decisions, companies need to understand the social and economic business environments.

The challenge for market insights professionals is to analyze all this information, distill what matters versus what's irrelevant, and help companies understand the opportunities within each market. And with more and more data being made available, this process only gets harder: Because there's so much information available, it's easy to overlook the real opportunities and challenges. Market insights professionals need to analyze all the data in a cultural context, have the ability to step out of their comfort zone, and invite a broader audience to help them understand the findings. Only then will they find pearls of wisdom, probably where they would least expect them.

To hear me talk about this, please listen to a podcast recorded by ESOMAR:

I hope you can make it to Brussels. If you do, please reach out via the blog, Twitter or by email, I'd love to connect in person. if not, hope this preview has given you something to think about.


Diversity is more than geographic

As Compuware CTO Imad Mouline noted in a presentation at the Internet Retailer’s Web Design and Usability 2011 Conference (with Tony Elmquist from L.L. Bean Inc.), in addition to the geographic diversity of online consumers you mention, there's also a myriad of devices and browsers accessing online shopping sites, unlike just a few years ago when IE and Firefox and Safari on desktops and laptops were all you needed to worry about. As Mouline notes in this blog post (, Internet browsers do a lot more than just allow consumers to view web pages, including displaying shopping cart pop-ups, storing consumer information and processing rich media images. Not only do retailers need to realize the international scope of their ecommerce operations, but also provide a more engaging experience to fickle consumers. Overlaying new and different cultural imperatives can only make this a more complex exercise.


Technology needs and ereadiness

thanks for reaching out. You are absolutely right, it's not only different customer needs, but also the different business environment that requires companies to develop a regional strategy and adept their approach country by country. eReadiness is one of the elements to take into account, the technological set-up within a country is another one, payment preferences and options a third. And the list goes on and on. But there's also the expectations of the customers: I'll touch in my speech briefly on the different drivers and influencers for online shopping in different regions.