Thursday, August 27, 2009

Market Sizing Approaches

by Karen Coppock

The mHealth Alliance's most recent eNewsletter - the mPulse - highlighted a Vital Wave Consulting report:
Sizing the Business Potential of mHealth in the Global South

From the eNewsletter:

Sustainable business strategies are essential to the successful scaling of mHealth projects everywhere, yet only a handful of companies have begun making significant investments in mHealth. A report written by Vital Wave Consulting, which has worked closely with the mHealth Alliance, identifies critical success factors for stimulating cross-sector collaboration and proposes three methodological approaches to sizing the mHealth market.

Homing in on three countries – South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam – the report samples healthcare data and expenditures to identify where there is information missing that is necessary to assess the size of the mHealth market. Recognizing that the early stages of mHealth present challenges for collecting primary data, the report stresses the importance of including input from health experts in the developing world and identifies available secondary data.

Suggested methodologies for building effective market sizing entail top-down and bottom-up approaches, including: (1) top-down estimates from health budgets with needs-based segmentation; (2) top-down analyses from health ICT or eHealth budgets; and (3) bottom-up calculations from health care program cost and the volume of potential data. A fourth section compares the three methodologies and the quality of their results.

Developed for professionals across sectors and industries, the report helps to lay the groundwork for building the multi-sector engagement necessary to deliver on the promise of mHealth to improve health care delivery in countries facing even the gravest public health challenges.

Download and read the full report at under “Resources”.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nurturing Social Entrepreneurs

by Karen Coppock

Santa Clara University's
Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) was highlighted in an article in today.

This innovative program has nurtured hundreds of social entreprises (for-profit businesses with a social slant or non-profit organizations run with business rigor) from around the world and has allowed many professionals in Silicon Valley the opportunity to devote their talents and expertise to helping solve the world's most critical challenges.

Vital Wave Consulting's CEO, Brooke Partridge, participated in this year's GSBI bootcamp and led an interactive workshop on market segmentation. Given that many social enterprises are exploring hybrid business models (for example,
Planet Read's literacy work in India is partially subsidized by the profits received from its sister organization, for-profit BookBox) understanding and correctly applying market segmentation approaches is an increasingly important.

Social enterprises are not the only organizations that benefit from market segmentation. It is impossible for firms to rely on a single marketing strategy or message for all countries (especially for the extremely diverse and dynamic set of emerging markets). Conversely, no firm can afford to have a specific strategy for each of the world's countries. Market segmentation allows organizations to group countries, consumers, or other target markets based on dimensions that make sense for their product or service offering and to tailor marketing strategies to the needs and interests of these segmented groups.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Understanding mobile phone culture

by Yevgeniy Shishkanov

Mobile phone users’ cultural attitudes are evident in how they use mobile phones in public, especially in the early stages of technology adoption. This is especially true for developing countries with low per-capita GDP and mobile penetration rates. For instance, just a few years ago in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian republics, people were reserved with their mobile phone and limited their conversations to just a few minutes. This was greatly contrasted with Western societies where mobile phone users are comfortable having long (and often loud) phone conversations during their commutes on public transportation (e.g., buses, metro). In Uzbekistan, the more reserved usage is explained by both the high cost of mobile phone calls as well as the pervasive cultural norm of being quiet in the street and not attracting undue attention in public. Conservative or minimal usage of mobile phones can also be attributed to the restricted/oppressive nature of the political environment - mobile phone users may deliberately exercise self-restraint in order to avoid unnecessary attention from local militia that is prevalent in the day-to-day life of society.

Paradoxically, mobile phones are very prominently displayed in cafes and restaurants in Uzbekistan. Mobile phone owners - predominantly, a very well off segment of society - lay their phones on the table to exhibit their social status. These phones are often very high-end and frequently boast features that are completely useless in the country. In India, ringtones are the focus. People try and find a very creative and distinct – and Indian - ringtone to call attention to themselves. They may even let it ring just a little longer than required on a bus just to make sure everyone heard and appreciated their unique ringtone.

Understanding mobile phone culture and usage habits in developing countries provides valuable insights for market researchers and business planners. It also sheds light on the diversity of mobile phone users in the various parts of the world. In order to take full advantage of these insights, it is recommended to study the socio-political role of mobile phones in developing countries in addition to traditional economic factors. With a more complete understanding of the cultural, political and economic trends, multinational corporations can offer the right products/ services their customers and expand their markets through knowing of how mobile technology is used for serving mobile phone users in developing countries.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beyond Social Networking …

by Pawan Thampi

Airline policy prohibiting the use of cell phones on flights makes it impossible for passengers to inform people who may be waiting for them of any delays that occur during the flight. However, with the advent of Twitter and the introduction of wi-fi access on flights, passengers now have a way of communicating flight status to their friends and family. Let’s say on a flight from JFK to SFO international, passengers are informed of a 30 minute delay an hour before landing. Passengers with Twitter accounts could ‘tweet’ about the delay which in turn would send a text message to all their ‘followers’ who have chosen to receive updates on their phones, thereby saving their friends or families the trouble of waiting at the airport.

Twitter could also prove to be an invaluable tool when it comes to advertising. A corporation running a limited-time promotion on their products could update their Twitter profile with promotion details and contact their followers via SMS, irrespective of their location. This mechanism allows the corporation to get the message to consumers instantaneously. Traditional print advertising entails a delay between the creation of the marketing material and consumer awareness, since the consumers may not learn of the promotion till they visit the store. In some cases, the consumer learns of the promotion after it has ended. Advertising through Twitter makes the end consumer aware of promotions of interest in a timely manner and gives them the opportunity to take advantage of promotions that they may have otherwise missed out on.

The weakened job market also provides opportunity for Twitter to drive home the indispensability of social media networks. Job seekers who get updates on their cell phones from job sites with Twitter accounts of their own are more likely to learn about job openings first. It will not be surprising if the likes of and even professional headhunters resort to reaching out to their clients through Twitter.

Twitter really comes into its own in emerging markets where people prefer communicating through text messages rather than making phone calls. This cultural preference creates an environment that is perfect for the service sector to use Twitter as an advertising/communications tool. For example, very often remote villages in developing nations share only one doctor between them and clinics are understaffed leaving the doctors overwhelmed and unable to follow-up on basic but essential tasks like timely vaccination for children. With a single Twitter update, doctors could easily send reminders to multiple parents about the date on which children should be brought into the clinic for their shots.

Given its potency, Twitter comes with its own set of risks. As it gains in popularity, any negative press on Twitter is likely to damage a company’s reputation. The ability to ‘re-tweet’ (i.e., forwarding ’tweets’ to followers of one’s profile) exponentially increases the likelihood of bad press spreading like wildfire. To counter this threat, companies can invest in the establishment of a social media team tasked with managing public opinion on Twitter. Prompt and sincere responses to grievances from customers and the general public should help mitigate the threat of negative publicity through Twitter.

The inherent risks aside, Twitter can clearly evolve beyond being a social networking tool and change the way corporations do business. Corporations can benefit from the untapped potential of this tool, provided they learn to manage the risks involved in dealing with such a speedy and widespread communications tool.

Learning from Local Market Leaders

Like many computer manufacturers, Chinese PC maker Lenovo has struggled in the past year with the effects of the global recession, shrinking margins and the move toward lower-priced netbooks. The company's latest financial results confirm that while its loss narrowed considerably in the second quarter, it has yet to return to profitability. Perhaps the bigger story is in its quarterly results: Lenovo is thriving in its home market of China and other emerging markets such as Russia, Latin America and Turkey even while it is losing market share in developed economies such as the U.S. and Western Europe. A Lenovo executive notes that the company has improved its position in emerging markets by using the same tactics that have worked for it in China. These tactics include focusing on consumer and small-business customers, marketing "commodity" PCs that appeal to these customers and improving its distribution and supply chain systems.

Other emerging-market giants, such as Mexican telecommunications provider Telmex and Indian industrial conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra, have also dominated markets in their own backyards but struggled to make inroads in mature markets. These results demonstrate that the challenges to multinational corporations of crossing between emerging and mature markets go both ways.

When entering new countries, multinational firms often replicate the strategies that worked in their home markets. But, industry trends indicate that these firms would fare better by paying greater attention to the strategies of companies based in countries similar to these new markets. Taking a hard look at other companies that succeeded- and failed- in unfamiliar markets would help multinational contenders come out ahead during their own international expansion.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rising again in the East?

by Brendan Smith

The global recession has been anything but predictable in its effects on emerging market economies, especially in Asia. When the financial crisis began, many thought Asia's largest economies, particularly China and India, would avoid the worst of the crisis. Those hopes were dashed when growth rates swooned in the fourth quarter of 2008. The unexpectedly large contraction in international trade hit exporting-dependent economies like Japan, Singapore and Taiwan especially hard, and even took a lot of the shine off the booming Chinese and Indian economies.

Fast forward to this summer, and growth prospects for Asia are looking a whole lot brighter. The Chinese, Indonesian, South Korean and Singaporean economies posted second quarter growth figures averaging over 10%, and even the Japanese economy, which fell into its worst recession since World War II last year, is showing signs of life, buoyed by the growth of its neighbors. China's resurgence in growth has prompted fears that its government is either cooking the books or overstimulating Chinese equity markets, but the vigor shown by other Asian economies and increases in indicators like electricity use seem to indicate that China has at least begun to return to its former growth trajectory.

The continued sluggishness of growth in the U.S. and other parts of the developed world suggests that Western firms should look at expansion possibilities in Asia. Firms that supply goods and services to infrastructure projects in particular stand to benefit from massive stimulus spending on such projects in Asia. Attention should be paid, however, to the potential ramifications of bubbles forming in China and elsewhere. Smart growth planning entails not only identifying new opportunities but creating risk mitigation strategies as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

McDelivery – interesting spin on eCommerce

by Karen Coppock

When thinking about eCommerce, the Big Mac normally isn’t top of mind…..but McDonalds actually has a webpage (and phone line) in several international markets where you can order a meal for home delivery. From India to Singapore to Argentina, China and Brazil, McDonalds will deliver a Big Mac - or a
Chicken Maharaja Mac in the case of India - to your home or office.

In India, McDonalds is considered a family restaurant, so it would not be outside of the realm of possibility that you order an online meal for the entire family for home delivery. This would also make the 50¢ delivery fee less costly as a percent of the total price of the meal. It also has a special section – and kitchen - for vegetarians given that more than half of the country doesn’t eat meat. McDonalds also caters to the more upscale market, so their online service is in line with their target market.

In Argentina you can download a java application, McEntrega Móvil, and make your selections via your mobile phone, which is much more ubiquitous than computers or even landline phones in Latin America. In Brazil, you can pay via cash, credit card, or “ticket” – which is a bar coded invoice that you scan at your local ATM and pay via your bank account. Brazilians have to pay their phone, cable and other bills via their local banks (ATMs) – they also use this mechanism to pay for their online (eCommerce) purchases - so is a pretty standard payment process.

In countries with horrid traffic and sometimes safety issues, home or office delivery is the ultimate convenience. eCommerce may just be starting in some emerging markets, but in this instance it may be more advanced than what McDonalds offers in the US.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home again....Emerging market countries are luring talent back home

by Karen Coppock

“I was working in London for Reuters and was keen to come back home [Ghana] …” said Kenya’s Kiss media group’s co-founder, Patrick Quarcoo to Russell Southwood of Balancing Act News this week.

Patrick is not alone. According to AnnaLee Saxenian and her peers Vivek Wadhwa, Richard Freeman and Gary Gereffi, immigrants are increasingly looking to their home countries for opportunities. In a paper they published in March, they found that Chinese and Indian “returnees” return to their home countries for “career opportunities, family ties, and quality of life.” The dual trends of aging parents and very dynamic economies makes returning more attractive than ever….and almost half plan to stay there.

These individuals are unique in that they are comfortable in both US and developing world cultures and business environments. Many have cut their teeth at entrepreneurial start-ups in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs. They may elect to join MNCs and help them be more successful in the returnee's home country or alternatively, begin to create a new wave of local and entrepreneurial competitors for these firms. Likely they will do a combination of both, providing both a challenge and opportunity for MNCs.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Building Roads and Opportunities in Rural Consumer Markets

Efforts to strengthen national road networks got a boost recently with announcements on new highway construction in China and India. These developments highlight attempts to ease transportation bottlenecks and spread the fruits of economic growth to areas that have not always benefited from it. In India's case, the expansion of highways is aimed at alleviating the congestion that many observers say is holding it back from reaching its potential. In China, the activity is part of a massive economic stimulus as well as a way to tie outlying (and restive) areas more firmly to the economic heartland.

Infrastructure improvements- in roads, rails, ports and airports- across rural areas of the developing world are increasingly providing access to more than 3 billion rural consumers. National highways, such as China's "Mother Road" and India's "Golden Quadrilateral", are opening new markets and spurring the development of small towns along their length. Some countries, such as South Africa, already have good roads in rural areas because of the legacy of colonialism and resource extraction. While income differences between rural and urban areas are significant (in China, rural income is estimated at about a fifth of the urban incomes), many rural consumers benefit from remittances sent by urban-dwelling relatives and are hungry for consumer goods and services. And, as accessibility to rural areas increases, so will rural income.

Many MNCs focus on consumer markets in cities, rather than rural areas, of the developing world because of urban wealth and accessibility. But, it is also worthwhile to track the physical infrastructure- both planned and existing- in developing countries as an early indicator of new and untapped markets. Since setting up business in these areas takes time, making concrete strategies for moving into rural markets sooner rather than later can give forward-thinking firms a first-mover advantage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gates cites the importance of HIS in India speech

by Brendan Smith

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's extensive work on health issues in India was recognized in late July, when Bill Gates received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development from Indian president Pratibha Patil at a ceremony in New Delhi. The award was given to recognize the $1 billion in commitments the foundation has made to India, mostly in the areas of HIV and polio prevention and treatment, but Gates spent most of his speech recognizing the health efforts of his hosts, including an ambitious health information system (HIS) launched last year.

Gates was particularly fulsome in his praise of the National Rural Health Mission, a body established by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to improve the delivery of health services to the over 700 million Indians who live in the country's 600,000 villages. Since its inception, the NRHM has initiated a number of programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of rural Indians, a demographic with some of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world and a stubbornly high incidence of maternal and child mortality. In addition to rolling out programs aimed at improving the health of women and children, the NRHM is also attempting to track the impact of these programs by deploying the Health Management Information System (HMIS), a massive web-based system that allows the entry of data closer to the point of service, which increases both the accuracy and timeliness of the data and improves officials' ability to spot and analyze health trends and allocate resources.

Across the developing world, a growing number of governments, international organizations, foundations and health care providers are pressing the case that in order to improve health workers' ability to deliver better care and to understand what's working, and not working, in the provision of health care, there is an immense need for better data on both baseline indicators and the outcomes of programs and interventions. Vital Wave Consulting recently produced a report for the Gates Foundation on the state of HIS throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, featuring full case studies of the Indian HMIS and HIS in Brazil and Zambia, in addition to an analysis of the critical success factors of such systems. The report will soon be released publicly on a new website devoted to furthering dialogue on HIS. Keep watching this blog for details on the website's launch.