Tips for Monitoring BRIC and other Emerging Markets

March 29, 2011. Localized monitoring of emerging markets can help identify and alert companies to promising client leads, sales opportunities, customer segments and competitor threats as they surface. On a more strategic level, companies can even improve their understanding about the risks or opportunities in such high growth markets. What are some proven approaches for local monitoring.

We ask Ville Vanhala, Senior Vice President of Information Resources at M-Brain (formerly Global Intelligence Alliance), for his thoughts on the subject.

What are companies monitoring in BRIC or other emerging markets?

“There is no shortage of news about BRIC markets, and more recently the CIVETS getting their share of international attention too – not to mention recent turmoil in Northern Africa and the Middle East. But macroeconomic and political developments are of course only the backdrop for local business developments.

Companies need to know what is going on within their industry sector and in their customer segments in each market. Many companies have been expanding their operations in emerging markets, or have future intentions to be more active in markets such as Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Poland and other countries in Central Eastern Europe, South Africa and Vietnam.

Companies monitor emerging markets to assist in the planning and implementation of their market entry or market development strategies. In order to steer and enhance their existing operations in the local markets, they often need to be up to date on the latest market growth forecasts, labor market developments, competitor movements, industry consolidation, regulatory changes and so on. They also want to keep track of existing suppliers’ reputation and activities in the market and be aware of alternate suppliers. Much of this market monitoring can be done by tracking local language information sources, such as company web sites, news publications and industry reports.”

What challenges are there in keeping track of emerging markets news?

“A lot of local market news is not showing up in international data sources. Much of the news you do get to read from English language news services and databases is based on press releases from international companies that are picked up by newswires or newspapers. News about activities of local subsidiaries, competitors, customer companies and suppliers in emerging markets are much harder to locate in international data sources.

This local source intelligence can be the most important intelligence to support successful operations in emerging markets. Take for example, the emergence of a new attractive market segment due to accelerated urbanization in certain areas and changing consumption patterns. This can be difficult to detect solely based on occasional discussions with staff at your local sales office or manufacturing operation, because their focus tends to be on their day-to-day business within the existing scope of operations. Another example would be the CEO of a major local rival giving an in-depth interview to a local business newspaper about their strategy and future plans. That piece of highly relevant competitor intelligence might not be picked up, if there is not a systematic process in place for monitoring local source intelligence

So companies need to invest additional effort into making sure they have awareness about local market developments, beyond their staff in the local operations reading and hearing about things.”

What options are available for local market monitoring?

“It all depends on the internal target audiences and the decision making that needs to be supported. Once these are identified, these needs have to be prioritized.

One possibility is to set up automated news feeds of the latest news headlines in local languages. This is most useful when market monitoring is needed on the ground by the company’s local teams who speak the language and need real time intelligence to react to local market developments.

Another possibility would be to consider arranging, for example, weekly news abstracts in English, based on most important local language news stories. This makes the local intelligence accessible for people in the company who do not speak the local language. For example staff at headquarters will find this additional input from local language sources very valuable in complementing the picture they will otherwise get of local markets. A further possibility will be to consider something like a quarterly competitor and market intelligence report, based on secondary and primary research. The information from local published sources will be collated and enriched with intelligence collected by speaking to industry insiders in the local market. Executives will receive a high level analytical summary of key trends and developments in the market.

Companies may also want to consider more diversified ways to keep an eye on local markets. For example, sales leads monitoring by mining company data and identifying key contacts is one intelligence activity to do in a systematic manner. Other surveillance activities to consider would include tracking of macroeconomic indicators and forecasts as well as social media monitoring.

Naturally a combination of different deliverables can be considered as well.”

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