Consumer Insights

Consumer Insights is in-person, ethnographic research meant to draw out meaningful insights into media consumption habits in at-risk communities around the world. It is designed to shed light on how people in a specific country, region, or demographic group receive and share information via traditional media and new technologies, allowing DAI to rapidly customize intervention strategy, outreach campaigns, and deploy appropriate solutions in support of the UN's SDGs.

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About This Innovation

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In the ever-evolving world of interpersonal communication, knowing how best to engage young people is an ongoing challenge. The smartphone app that everyone used six months ago can quickly end up in the recycle bin in a market filled with competitors, and where the cost of switching is as low as downloading a new app. Unfortunately, traditional sources of mobile and app adoption data—GSMA, comScore, The World Bank, and ITU—provide no information on specific demographic groups such as at-risk youth within a country. 

In response, DAI has developed Consumer Insights, an in-person ethnographic research meant to draw out meaningful insights into media consumption habits in at-risk communities, and designed to shed light on how people in a specific country, region, or demographic group receive and share information via traditional media and new technologies. The resulting analysis allows DAI to rapidly customize intervention strategy, outreach campaigns, and deploy appropriate solutions to community challenges around the world, addressing the challenges identified by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals such as inequality, health, gender equality, and sustainable cities. 

A consumer insight can be defined as a non-obvious understanding about your customers, which if acted upon, has the potential to change their behavior for mutual benefit.  DAI focuses on researching consumer insights around ICT access, usage and norms, with a specific emphasis on obtaining actionable insights to enhance and catalyze development programming impact.  With the dynamic ICT landscape in emerging markets where smartphone penetration can increase rapidly in just a few months, especially amongst the youth segment, it is impossible to make programming decisions based on year-old reports or country-level data.  Strong consumer insights, done in current timing and specifically targeted to the segment the project is seeking to reach, are vital to designing user-centered, high-uptake and high-impact ICT4D initiatives.

To date, DAI has conducted consumer insights research in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Jordan, Honduras, El Salvador and Indonesia.  A key aspect of our approach is a standardized methodology that focuses on deep research into a well-defined target segment, rather than shallow research across a broad pool of users.  Our toolkit is built incorporating best practice consumer insights tools from the private sector for both qualitative and quantitative research, with a strong foundation in ethnographic methodologies.  We use face to face interviews to conduct our research, travelling into the communities (and often homes) of our target populations.
Some findings from recent DAI Consumer Insights research include:

Qualitative

  • When women in Sierra Leone are seen using mobile phones in private, it is often assumed they are having an extra-marital affair
  • In urban Afghanistan, women control what is listened to on the radio while men control what is watched on the television
  • In Honduras, the decision to carry one’s phone on one’s person is largely driven by perceptions of security in the community

Quantitative

  • Rural youth in vocational training programs in Jordan have 86% access to smartphones
  • Women in Afghanistan spend 4 hours/day listening to the radio and 2 hours/day watching television

Next Steps

DAI is looking for partners to help expand Consumer Insights reach to more regions. We plan to continue creating knowledge products to improve the world's understanding of mobile adoption, what changes in communications technology means in marginalized communities, and how we (and others) might be able to leverage the uptake of mobile technologies as a way to engage populations on topics such as: community governance, financial inclusion, behavior change and awareness campaigns, and far more. 

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