Quick question: name a region with growing economy, close to traditional key markets, and keen to innovate and catch up with the West. Which continent does that region belong to?
Bet your first answer wasn't Europe. But here it is, Central and Eastern Europe, on the doorstep of the old, sluggish, debt-ridden Eurozone and yet not having the same challenges. It's a vast and complex region of over 300 million people, with a variety of languages, cultures and levels of economic developments.
This week, I've had the pleasure to spend few days in the region, meet researchers, clients and media execs from across the region, and had a chance to share Vision Critical's view of the future of the industry. First was the Kutatas 2012 event in Hungary, held in a beautiful wine region around the Balaton lake. Over 300 media and research professionals attended the event, focused on innovation in Market Research. Research communities are a hot topic, and I had a great Q & A session after presenting benefits of community panels and Vision Critical's approach to it. It was great to see media and research people coming together to a joint event to discuss the future, something not seen often in the UK or Western Europe. Then off to Poland, to a historical city of Cracow, to a CEE Forum organized by ESOMAR. The focus there was to promote international best practices in latest research methodologies that can be applied to business needs with a "global-to-local" perspective.
The conclusion? Central and Eastern Europe are not that much different from traditional markets. The young and old people of the region have quickly adopted social media; latest mobile and tablet gadgets use is widespread. And guess what? The industry faces very similar challenges and ideas to what we can see in London, Paris or New York. The topics of research communities, co-creation, online qual, gamification and mobile dominated the discussions. Also, CEE is fully globalised, with familiar global household brands dominating people's lives in the same way it dominates lives in Germany, UK or US. And one big difference from Western Europe: no-one mentioned the Greek debt crisis!
Links to conference pages: