As the SLIM-Nielsen People’s Awards draw nearer, Nielsen Managing Director Sharang Pant shares his views, giving a detailed description of the process that makes the SLIM-Nielsen People’s Awards the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka. Aptly known as the ‘People’s Awards’, the winners of each category are selected based on a nation-wide census conducted by Nielsen, a globally renowned performance management company.
Q:How do you capture the differences between socio-economic, gender and age when evaluating a brand?
A:The survey is conducted across a statistically derived demographic sample in the country. The sample design takes into account the gender and age (15-60 years), proportions, the urban and rural population across all provinces and spreads across all Social Economic Classes. This gives all brands an equal opportunity to be chosen by the Sri Lankan public.
For the past few years, SLIM-Nielsen has added Youth Award Categories for brands specifically targeting the age group 15-24 years.
Q:What is the overall consumer trend at present?
A: While cultural aspects still remain similar over years, some aspects of consumer behaviour and choices are now being impacted by trends like urbanisation, digital economy/internet exposure and general changes in socio-economic demographics. These trends impact the design of the SLIM-Nielsen People’s Awards and we make necessary changes to capture these trends. New award categories have been introduced to reflect some of these trends. For example, we have added a Fashion and FMCG Retailer category for 2018.
Q:The people make the choice. How has the response been from the public in conducting the survey? How has it changed over the years?
A:The biggest positive outcome of the past 12 years of these awards has been the fact that Nielsen is recognised by the general citizens in association with these awards. They do not necessarily know Nielsen and the business we are in. But the mention of Nielsen reminds them of the awards and respondents are willing to participate. This goes to show that the awards are firmly entrenched as an annual event in their minds and not just the brands and personalities, but even the average citizens look forward to knowing the winners every year.
We also get some good inputs from the respondents, which we look to incorporate into the design as appropriate.
Q:When depending on the people’s choice, what would be more influential in their decision: the actual product experience, or the impact of brand advertising and communication?
A: I would say both are equally important. While brand advertising or communication helps in creating awareness, if the brand does not perform or deliver on consumption experience, consumers are quick to give up on them. At the same time, brands that have established the quality perception can possibly survive with lower spend on advertising, as they have managed to build a strong image and consumer loyalty. This explains why we see winners in some categories that win purely based on equity built over the years, despite lower ad spend or innovation.
Q:Do you see a change in public opinion over the years when it comes to brand
A: Yes, brand perceptions do change if the brand promise is no longer relevant to the public. This explains how some of the big brands of the past disappeared as they failed to take note of consumer needs and evolve to stay relevant. The other change seen these days is that post-purchase brand promise or brand service is also becoming equally important. For example, in categories like Durables, Telecom and Finance, the public perceptions are shaped more by post-purchase service when product features are becoming less and less differentiated.