Economy 11:10 22/11/2011

Emerging markets use social media

 Businesses in emerging economies have stolen a march on their western counterparts in the use of social media, according to the latest findings from Grant Thornton's International Business Report (IBR).

The research reveals that 43% of businesses globally use social media in some capacity. However, this rises to 53% in Latin America and 50% in the BRIC economies. In mature markets the figures are much lower, at 40% in the G7 and just 35% in Europe. The Armenian average is closer to the European data, with only 34% of businesses using social media. Meanwhile, more than three quarters (78%) of Latin American businesses plan to increase their use of social media, compared to two thirds (66%) in the EU and just over half (55%) across the G7.
The results are a wake-up call to business leaders reluctant to embrace digital opportunities, who could lose out in an e-commerce market expected to be worth $1.4tn by 2015.

Mark Henshaw, head of media and entertainment at Grant Thornton UK, said: “The results are fascinating to note. They show businesses in emerging markets embracing social media much faster than their peers in mature markets. They appear to have much more faith in the impact that an active social media presence can have on their relationships with clients, with customers, and ultimately on their bottom line.

“Interestingly, business use of social media appears to mirror economic health. The emerging markets, where pickup is highest, are experiencing strong growth, whilst the problems facing Europe are well-documented. Social media use is clearly not the cause of Europe’s economic woes, but the research points to a split in mindset and attitude towards new ways of thinking and working.

"Use of the internet among the wider population in the emerging markets still lags behind Europe and North America, but the sheer size of those populations represents a huge market and therefore an enormous opportunity. In China for example, there are 485 million internet users, which is only 36% of the current population. In India less than 10% of the population access the internet. The challenge to Europe’s business leaders is clear: catch-up, or lose out.”

The results also indicate that globally, advertising is the most common reason companies use social media (53%), followed by communicating with customers (51%) and recruitment (43%). Advertising is the most common use in Armenia (28%), followed by recruitment (10%) and with no responses collected on communication with customers.

The IBR also indicates that despite the rapid proliferation of new media, newspapers remain the preferred source of information to business owners. Globally, four in five read a newspaper (79%) at least three times a week. This is also true in Armenia with 76% of respondent businessmen confirming that they read a newspaper regularly. In addition, newspapers, both hardcopy and online, are still the preferred source of news in Armenia (66%), followed by television news with 21%.

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