TINNA UMUNNA is Business Development Director, Kantar World Panel (KWP) Africa and the Middle East
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and current role as Business Development Director for KWP in Sub Saharan Africa?
I am the head of Kantar World Panel business for West, East and Central Africa. Kantar World panel is part of the Kantar group. Right now I am in charge of five countries but we are looking at expanding and setting up in more countries in the nearest future. So, I am highly mobile and have to travel a lot of the time because of the nature of the business. We have clients in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cote’d’ Ivoire and Senegal and I basically look after them.
What does Kantar World Panel do?
Kantar World Panel does a specialized type of research that is based on facts rather than claims about consumer behavior and that is one of the key factor that differentiates Kantar World Panel and other types of research. When I say it is based on facts, I mean that if we are dealing with a consumer study, we must of necessity see that the consumer actually purchased and consumed a particular product. So, it means that you must go to the consumer’s home and actually see the wrappers of the brand they claim to have bought and consumed. For instance, if a consumer has claimed that he drank milk, then I have to check his pantry or dustbin to see the wrapper of the kind of brand that he bought and drank.
So, it is not about telling me that he drank milk or a particular brand which is actually a claim. That is the difference between Kantar World Panel and any other form of research because ours is based on facts and not claims. Another thing is that Kantar World Panel has been operating and running household panels for years; infact for over sixty years and we have panels in over 40 countries across the globe.
How old is Kantar World Panel in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, we are about twelve years old. The panel was set up by then RMS and when we became part of TNS we also became part of the Kantar Group and at a point Kantar World Panel actually took over the panel that was set up by RMS. So effectively the Household panel has been here in Nigeria since 2005.
What is it that you find challenging in your engagement with clients?
For this market the most challenging fact is that local clients don’t know a lot about the Household panel research. So it takes a lot of time and hard work to get clients understand the benefits and to subscribe.
We have clients that we had to chase sometimes for up to three years before they even subscribed to one category and that is because they do not fully understand the enormous insight that can be gotten from the House Panel. Most are used to very basic research which is and mostly the ad-hoc research. So if you talk about consumer panel to these clients here, they don’t understand, except for the very global clients who have used the panel somewhere- may be in other developed countries, in Europe and the USA. You’ll find it easier with those clients because they are knowledgeable. However for the local clients, it’s always a challenge getting them to understand and invest in research. Some of them would actually tell you that they have been in this market and have been selling their product without any kind of research and made a success of it.. indeed, they‘ve been selling but the truth is that if you have useful insights to back up your decision making , you can actually make a lot more margins than you currently do because it will help you see yourself vis-a- vis competition and strategize more effectively.
Some of the clients also price research like they price tomatoes, this is because they place very little value on strategic information which can only come from research. For instance, you can quote x million for a project and they would say “no, how can it be? Is it not ordinary research?” I then tell such clients that what their brands are to them is what my research data is to me!
Why should manufacturers track or study what people are using or buying in home?
At the end of the day, a lot of the brands end up in home. Yes, you might find you sold your brand, which is your sell out, however, how do you know how the consumers have interacted with your brand visa-vis competition? How do you know the alternatives the consumers have to your brand, so if you are not available, which other brands do they buy? And which brands interact or compete with your brand within the household? This kind of information for instance begins to give you the idea of what to do to remain relevant with the consumers to sustain your brand. So, if you are not available for instance, you know that brand x is going to be the next alternative to the consumer at the point of purchase.
Moreover we know that some small brands are coming up and actually stealing shares from the big brands. So this kind of research actually helps you to know those brands and how they get into the homes because ultimately what gets into the home is what gets consumed.
The kind of research we provide helps you see yourself vis-a vis competition and we then proffer strategic guidance on how to win and stay atop particularly in the economic situation we are in which keeps evolving
How has the economic recession impacted businesses and what are the prospects in 2018?
For us, the economic recession has actually impacted positively. When I say positively it means we find out that, a lot of clients, because of the recession want information I mean useful information to grow their business. They want to know why and how other brands are taking shares from them, especially the big brands.
Because of the recession, economy brands or what we call the value brands are growing while some of the hitherto big brands are actually in decline. Since those big brands are not growing, they want to find out how they can push their brands to grow and maintain their lead as well as how we can provide insight to diversify or expand their business.
So you find out that a lot of leading FMCGs are coming up with value brands/SKU. When we say SKU’s, we mean those small sachets which people can quickly buy based on the little amount of money they have in their pockets.
For us, we find that knowledgeable clients are buying more research even in this time of recession and when I say more research from us, I mean panel data, it’s because it is always available, can be gotten off the shelf, it’s syndicated and it’s kind of cheaper for clients to buy a deep dive and be able to get the quick insight they need.
You find out that more clients are buying data from Kantar World Panel because in the long run, the insight they receive cannot be easily derived from any other source, the kind of insight we give is different, we have trends and history; I can infact give you information on a brand for the last five years and you can begin to look at the brands evolution and then begin to take decisions that will make your business grow.
Share with us how you are different from competition and how would the clients benefit by working with KWP?
I told you Kantar world Panel has operated the RMS panel since 2012, so there is the expertise we have because we have done this over and over for so many years, House hold panels is our specialty. This is the specialized arm of the Kantar business. All we do is the consumer panel, so we have the know-how and we are trained to generate those insights. That is why you find out we are different from competition.
For instance, I have led this business for ten years, the Household panel is all I have done in the last ten years and you know as you grow older or gain more experience/expertise on the job the kind of insight you generate will differ because you have seen a lot of scenarios. We are quite different from competition because those that you may call our competitors are into diverse kinds of research.
We are mainly focused on the House hold panel and you can see from the kind of clients we get. We have grown the Kantar World Panel business in Nigeria exponentially in the last six years.
What are your flagship products and services in a nutshell?
For the Kantar World Panel, what we do basically is the consumer panel. We have a set of stable and consistent number of Households where we look at the brands these Households bring home and consume, these households are weighted to represent the entire Nigerian households for instance.. There are a lot of other insights we can generate from there.
We have the service we call the LINKQ, which we are bringing to Nigeria. LINKQ can be likened to an ad-hoc study within the consumer panel. So it means we can segment households within the panel and ask them specific questions. For instance, your brand is losing penetration and we can actually segment and look at those households who have left your brand and pick those specific households and design some form of questions to check and find out why they actually left your brand and those factors that will make them come back to your brand. So we are bringing in the LINKQ and that is part of the expert solution which is well known in other parts of the world and we are introducing this in our region this year.
What is unique with the Nigerian market among other markets you cover?
Within the markets that I cover, you find out that the Nigerian clients are much more advanced in terms of research. If you compare to other African countries, indeed, Nigeria is different even within Africa.
The Nigerian client is more demanding, you find out that the Nigerian client wants attention, they want the report quick and fast, they want it at a very low cost. If the report is late, then you are in trouble. They want reports on time because they yearn for that information and insight that you actually give to help grow their business.
A lot of them depend on our monthly reports to make their decision. You also see that the Nigerian market is not constant, it is dynamic and it keeps changing.
Today you see a new brand; tomorrow there are three other brands of its kind in the market. So you have to be on your feet as a brand owner and think smart and sustain your brand otherwise other brands are already in the market and eager to take over your slot and take your shares
Same thing goes with the consumers?
Consumers are also ever evolving and needs also keep changing… You notice that manufacturers are ever coming with innovations because what the consumers want is different at any point of time. They keep evolving. More so now that the economy is supposedly just coming out of recession, you find out that consumers are looking for ways to maximize the benefit and satisfaction (both functional and emotional) that they get from a brand at a very minimal cost. So brands who will win with consumers are the innovative ones who listen to the consumers. The consumer now is also very price sensitive and I believe that brand Loyalty as we used to know it is fast being eroded. Your wallet now mostly determine what brand you purchase.
What’s your impression about the many malls springing up all over the place? Are they sustainable? How do you collaborate with them in your type of work?
That’s a good development. In the developed world we actually have data which we call retailer information these come out from people who shop in organized market. Those kinds of malls are what we call the modern trade and the fact that it’s springing up is good for us because it means that clients would also get information from those outlets. For instance, who are the people buying from those outlets and what are people buying here?
For the consumer, it is also beneficial because it is assumed the malls sell cheaper because they get directly from the manufactures rather than going through the distributors. So yes it’s a good development because it means we are growing the modern trade within the country. It is also sustainable. However, we cannot overlook the importance of the good old open market, I believe the Open market will be here for a long time because the average Nigerian consumer likes to haggle price and get some discount and this you can mainly get in the open market. .
What are your thoughts on online shopping?
We want to mirror the developed world. I want to shop from the comfort of my home or office, a place where I know I won’t get dirty and the prices are fixed. That’s what the sophisticated consumer is looking for. The sophisticated consumer is looking for ease of shopping and that is behind the growth of online shopping. Ease and confort. We are gradually growing here but at a slower pace particularly for FMCG products, sale of other categories like electronics and fashion products are indeed growing online.
What are the recent positive developments in the research world you would like to share?
The research world particularly in Africa is growing in leaps and bounds from what it was ten years ago. Now you find out that mobile research for instance is developing.
Nowadays, you can run a research study in one week and get your report. Before now you would start from getting a brief to sending the report and you need at least six weeks for that but in recent time you can do research via mobile and then get your report in one week. That is a lot of positive development that has taken place. Also now you find out that more agencies are springing up, so it means that the industry is growing and offering multiple options for clients.
There are several market researchers who are setting up their outfits as we speak, and that gives you the opportunity to get different kinds of marketing research from different agencies.
Again you see that global Agencies are also setting up in Nigeria. That’s growth, that’s job creation for our people and more sources of insights for manufacturers.