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August 04, 2016

Market Research in INDONESIA: Challenges and methodological solutions for undertaking market research in Indonesia

By Dawn Herdman

 

Indonesia continues to experience growth and many experts predict that it has a bright future and that it will be well placed to ride out changing economic superpowers and structures. Indonesia has the 4th largest population in the world, a growing consumer class who will continue to demand and consume more products, more resources and more food. The ‘demographic dividend', a large proportion of youth population, will be the driving force to also move the country forwards.

Therefore, Indonesia has been placed on the global spotlight and is attracting interest across sectors - both corporate multinationals and foreign governments - who want to be part of what's happening in Indonesia now and in the future. Hence, strategic insights forms a critical component for anyone wishing to enter or expand in Indonesia.
There are many challenges in understanding and researching the Indonesian market:

  1. Complex demographic, geographic and cultural paramaters - It is important to understand the underlying cultural factors of Indonesia and subtle differences across the many different ethnic and regional groups. It is also important to understand the influence that other cultures are having on Indonesia via an increased media influence and in recent years, the influence of digital and social media. Key influencers have been from Western culture and Eastern cultures like Japan and Korea which exposed viewers to those cultural patterns, morals and ethics. There are numerous implications to research:
    • Build a level of diversity into research design - it is not advisable to assume that patterns in 1 region would be same as in another region 
    • Consider the interviewer language and cultural background within the range of Indonesian ethnicities
    • Decode consumer responses with a cultural lens to understand hidden meaning to understand the context and underlying meaning. 
  2. Indonesia is dynamic, evolving and changing fast - Fast paced change driven by uptake of technology, economic empowerment; increasingly creative and dynamic young population. While core cultural values obviously take time to evolve and change, we see sub-cultures changing more rapidly. 
  3. As a researcher, we need to keep up with these changes, to understand what consumers need and want - keeping our finger on the pulse, using innovative and fast methodologies to regularly track consumer sentiment and trends - an almost constant, ongoing task.

Methodological solutions being used to overcome these challenges;

  1. Cultural Investigation and Semiotics takes a holistic look at culture and what is influencing Indonesians' lives and perceptions. We talk to trend-setters, experts; but also investigate culture and trends using a semiotics approach, studying the signs and symbols to map cultural changes.
  2. Social media monitoring and social listening is now an integral part of any research project, increasingly used to understand discourse to map out and understand sentiment towards a client, brand or topic.

 

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