Ancient Chinese merchants were among the first entrepreneurs. They have found a unique way to manage risk in international trade. They distributed their goods for sale on several ships and released at sea. Thus, if one ship was sunk or became a victim of pirates, the rest had a chance to survive. In this way, Chinese merchants safely transported most of their goods to the market of the neighboring city and avoided serious financial losses.
In the 21st century, the export-oriented business is no longer threatened by pirates, but it continues to face other challenges. In today's world, the political, economic and social environment is changing so rapidly that the most difficult task for any company is to find and retain a loyal customer.
The main conclusion that a business must make in the current reality is this: Chinese merchants learned this centuries ago - they realized how much risk the principle "Put all your eggs in one basket" contains. Inspired by an old adage, this concept perfectly explains the importance of market diversification. Its relevance is growing day by day for international marketers and it is clear that Georgian companies are no exception. The Russian-Ukrainian war once again showed us what we have already witnessed many times - how dependence on the market of one country interferes with business.
No one disputes that market diversification is the best solution for risk insurance. However, the implementation of this principle in the modern world requires much more effort than "several cargo ships". Even in the case of the local market, there are many challenges - finding a relevant target customer, winning and maintaining his loyalty. It is even more difficult to fulfill this mission in the international arena. So when we discuss reducing risk and increasing capacity for export-oriented enterprises, the question is not what? but the question is - how?
How companies can better find and develop an unknown market or, at best, markets? It is obvious, and it can be seen with the naked eye, that it will be difficult to succeed only by watching the trends. The most effective tool for planning an international marketing strategy is market research, and consumer research occupies one of the main places in this process.
Well, if you are a business owner and want to expand, open up new markets, consumer research can be the most necessary and useful tool for you.
opportunities for consumer research:
The number one task in the process of finding a new market is to find out if the buyer needs the offered product or service at the offered price. For a company, entering a new market without consumer research is like wandering through a maze. Obviously, a business can have a rough idea of the needs of foreign customers, that is, of where and to whom it will be profitable to export this or that product. However, these ideas are largely based on intuition and may well not correspond to reality. After all, any foreign market is unique and differs in many ways from the local market - its buyers live in a different geographical area, speak a different language, have special requirements, opportunities and preferences. Accounting for all these factors is a prerequisite for success, in which consumer research can be of great help.
The survey provides the business owner with detailed information that:
This is not an exhaustive list of the knowledge that can be obtained through consumer research. If it is analyzed correctly, the business will have the opportunity to get to know the new market well and find the right target segment - the client who is most likely to buy his product or service. In this case, the decision to enter a new market is made on the basis of evidence, not assumptions, which significantly reduces risks.
ACT actively helps Georgian and foreign companies to develop foreign markets. One example of this is a consumer survey conducted in Yerevan commissioned by a supermarket chain. ACT has conducted a study of consumer preferences and consumer basket in Armenia. Analysis of the research results allowed the customer company to offer the client a product that takes into account the needs of the target segment. Thus, consumer research helped the business to insure the risks, due to which it established itself rather painlessly in the new market.
Finding a target customer is the first step in entering a new market. The next and no less important task is to attract the attention of potential customers. To do this, the business needs to properly pack the product and deliver it to the customer in such a way that it arouses his interest. The role of research is also important at this stage of the development of an unknown market. Research, in addition to the rational motives of human behavior, also reveals what topics potential customers react emotionally to, what excites them, likes or annoys them. Having received this information, the business will be able to offer the product to the buyer, taking into account his wishes and develop an effective way of advertising.
A good example of this is the entry into the Georgian market of several foreign shopping centers. By their order, ACT conducted a study - studied the consumer behavior of Georgians, brand preferences and consumer attitudes towards the proposed product. According to the results of the study, the companies adjusted their marketing strategy, offered the buyer a product that meets his requirements, and earned the location of the target segment. Thus, research-based solutions ended up being effective for them.
The key to the success of any business is a satisfied customer. As soon as a customer buys a product or service, a timer starts. The business really wins if the customer comes back to buy again and again. This will be a sign that the brand has received the most important award - customer loyalty. However, loyalty is not permanent. People's tastes change every day, new needs and desires arise. In fact, the success of a business depends on how well it listens to its customers. An effective tool for maintaining their loyalty is customer research. This allows the company to constantly keep abreast of the buyer - not to miss a single change in his mood and always be aware of trends.
This consumer research opportunity was successfully used by one of the representatives of the banking and financial sector from Georgia. ACT conducted several stages of consumer research for him in Uzbekistan, Central Asia. In order to identify the preferences of local consumers, the study was conducted both before and after entering an unknown market. As a result, the company managed to take a worthy place in the financial sector of the foreign market.
As we can see, consumer research is a necessary and useful step for a company that wants to expand and open up new markets. This allows business owners to make informed decisions, which greatly reduces the risk of opening, exploiting and maintaining new markets. However, businesses should not forget that the “stopwatch that starts when entering a new market” runs continuously while the company operates in this market. Thus, entering the market of a foreign country is not a one-time decision. Business must constantly be in the process of research and analysis of experience.
Over time, the icon of the businessman has emerged in the public perception as serious men dressed in suits, with huge responsibilities, working in a stressful environment and applying a constructive dialogue format. Does such a perception of a business leader correspond to modern trends? It is essential that all businessmen speak the diplomatic language?
In the postmodern world, a businessman’s role was transformed, which influenced the style of communication accordingly. Business leaders are increasingly trying to position themselves as a part of society and use humor to communicate. This obviously is associated with positive emotion, having an immediate effect on a person’s attitude leading at the same time to a long-term effect. Consequently, strategic humor has become a trend in business communication.
Humor is a simply understandable spoken language focused on key messages. Jokes are easy to remember, while being spread quickly throughout the community they can easily relief a crisis situation. (Meyer, 1990). Result of humor can be instantly seen due to its indicator – an unmistakable emotion - a smile. The humor makes easy to harvest the desired feedback in the target audience, while the emotion received gives us the clear answer to the question of how the set strategy worked. (Hudson, 1979).
The unique qualities of humor and the fact that humor can have a serious influence on a person's attitude shape it into a convenient tool for communication.
Consequently, the area of application of strategic humor is quite wide. It is used in different fields for different purposes:
შესაბამისად, სტრატეგიული იუმორის გამოყენების არეალი ფართოა. მისი გამოყენება ხდება სხვადასხვა სფეროში სხვდასხვა მიზნით:
||"If we make people happy, they will write stories about us, so we will not have to spend a lot of money on advertising," said Elon Musk, one of the most influential businessmen and innovators of the XXI century.|
Lately, Elon Musk's eccentricity and the way he is applying strategic humor is clearly observed by everyone. The use of contextual humor for a specific mission has become an authentic style for Musk. Creativity expressed in humor and simple way of communication make him one of the most popular persons of our times. Musk's laconic jokes can change a public agenda and make a business clock move counterclockwise.
Could you name another famous person who can just with a five-word joke bring financial benefits to a business, affect the currency exchange market, and/or significantly change the share value of the companies?!
Use of strategic humor and unique communication style makes Elon Mask:
The power of Musk's humor is translated into financial indicators. He can establish effective communication with customers, increase sales and share the value of the company at minimal costs. In addition to his own business, he manipulates the global business sector as well using strategic humor. Specifically, Musk's broken heart emoji significantly reduced the market value of the world's first cryptocurrency (see Twitter 1), and the price of one of the least known cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin, rose from 0.1 cents to 72 cents in 5 months (see Twitter 1; 2; 3). ). (Source: economictimes). In supplement, Twitter has also become the target of Musk's satirical humor. Posts on the social network significantly reduced the market value of the platform and eventually led to its acquisition. (See Tweet 1, 2).
Sharp wits give Elon Musk charisma along with his popularity, which makes him a strong political figure in the eyes of the public while valuing his other characteristics as a leader. Elon Musk can make political weather, as evidenced by recent developments. Musk played an important political role in the Russia-Ukraine information war, where he of course did not forget to use humor. Musk responded to the threat of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov against him with humor, and in response to the way he was addressed by Kadyrov, changed his name to Ilona on Twitter.
It is worth mentioning that being one of the top entrepreneurs he is never discouraged even in case of failure and affords to ease the tense situation with creative humor. He is accustomed to acknowledging his own mistakes and looking at them in humor, while others may perceive them as a tragedy. (See Tweet 1)
Humor is acknowledged as a universal form of easily perceived communication that positively affects a person and creates a positive mood. Consequently, the strategic use of humor by a businessman can increase trust in him and supports in winning people's sympathy. All this leads to a positive effect not only on the personal image of the business leader, but also on his business activities, which ultimately helps to increase awareness and sales.
Considering that the use of strategic humor can bring a lot of benefits to a business leader, it is important to remember that it needs to be used correctly and contextually, as joking about sensitive topics can turn positive emotions into negative ones and lead to bad reviews.
In conclusion, we can say that simple and creative language of communication can establish an emotional connection with the audience and build the perception of a strong, successful business leader.
To provide a European perspective and assess how Georgia meets the conditions for obtaining candidate status - this was the verdict of the European Commission of June 17, 2022, which all of Georgia was waiting for. But "Companions" Ukraine and Moldova, together with the prospect, also received a recommendation for granting the status of a candidate for EU membership.
According to the same recommendation, Georgia will become a candidate for EU membership if it manages to pull itself out of the quagmire and implement the already repeatedly demanded reforms in the judiciary, eliminate political polarization, achieve de-oligarchization, effectively investigate crimes, promote the creation of a free, professional and independent media, etc.
The recommendation published by the European Commission on June 17 was a disappointment for many of our compatriots. The opportunity that arose against the backdrop of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the feeling of not using it; Anger at the government or at our own helplessness and a faint hope in our hearts that the Council of Europe will not heed the recommendation of the European Commission - this is probably an incomplete list of feelings and hopes that each of us experienced on June 17th.
The optimistic expectations regarding the status of the candidate for EU membership and the unconditional perception of the advantages of the European choice were once again demonstrated by the survey of 802 respondents conducted by ACT. It is noteworthy that the fieldwork on the study was completed the day before the meeting of the European Commission on June 17 and covered the period from June 11 to 16. The sampling error of the study was 4.2%.
Geography is destiny - this phrase is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. However, outstanding Georgians believed in changing this fate centuries ago and believe today when we are trying to become members of the European family, despite the fact that we do not have a direct border with it. Europe not only gives many advantages for us in specific areas, but also embodies values that bring us back to the path of our ancestors.
Therefore, the vast majority of respondents have no doubt that the status of an EU candidate - as a path to full EU membership - is important: 84% of respondents think so. The number of those to whom the status of a candidate for EU membership seems insignificant does not exceed 11%.
In your opinion, how important is it for Georgia to obtain the status of an EU candidate?
At the same time, every second respondent expects to receive the status of a candidate member of the EU in the coming months (50%). 33% do not hope to get the status, and 17% of respondents found it difficult to answer the question.
The associated trio of countries - Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova - along with their declared aspirations for European integration have a common heavy Russian legacy and lost territories. A similar context and a distinct orientation towards EU membership at first glance seem to have similar prospects, although the recommendations of the European Commission of 17 June confirmed a somewhat different perception of Georgia. Moldova, which has pulled ahead, has become a kind of disappointment against the background of the fact that the country does not participate in hostilities, and there is definitely no leap forward seen by the naked eye.
The fact that the chances for EU membership for Georgia and Moldova, from the point of view of the population, were very similar, was also confirmed by the study. According to the data, respondents emphasized Ukraine's high chances of obtaining candidate status, while Georgia and Moldova were rated roughly the same.
It can be assumed that in the case of Ukraine, which is at war and daily reflects Russian aggression, the decision could be taken for granted to some extent.
But in relation to Moldova, the perception of equal opportunities and the result contradicted the expectations of the population. They believed, that Georgia will also become a candidate for EU membership.
How do you assess Georgia's chances of obtaining EU member status? For Ukraine? For Moldova?
An indirect confirmation that the population was waiting for the EU candidate status is the response to the statement “Georgia is closer to EU membership than ever”, with which almost 4 out of 5 respondents (76%) agreed, and only 1 respondent disagreed ( 21%). 3% of respondents could not answer the question. It is possible that agreeing to the position would also mean seizing a favorable moment in the world political arena, which the country was unable to take advantage of. This is evidenced by the opinion of 2/3 of the respondents that “if Georgia does not receive the status of a candidate for EU membership in the near future, then it will not have such a chance for a long time” (66%).
Do you agree with the following terms:
The question of whether the country will receive the status of an EU candidate and whose merit it will be, showed how discredited the political class in the country is and how much citizens remain confident only in themselves. In particular, in the case of the status of a candidate for EU membership, the majority of respondents see the merit of the people, not politicians (40%). In general, the role of the Georgian government in this process is 2 times less - 20% of respondents. 14% point to the role of the parliament, the prime minister and the president as a whole. 9% of respondents talk about the role of Western/European partners.
In the event that the country does not receive the status of a candidate member of the EU, the responsibility, according to 4 out of 10 respondents (38%), lies with the government of Georgia. According to 16% of respondents, the Parliament of Georgia, the President, the Prime Minister and Bidzina Ivanishvili are also responsible for the current situation. 12% of respondents also see the opposition parties as guilty.
In your opinion, if Georgia receives the status of a candidate for EU membership, whose merit will it be?
In your opinion, if Georgia does not receive the status of an EU candidate, who will be responsible for this?
EU membership is equal to the developed future of the country
The benefits of EU membership for the population are quite obvious. In particular, for 9 out of 10 respondents, EU membership directly means a developed future for the country (90%), greater interest and motivation of abkhazs and Ossetians citizens to join Georgia (72%), protection from Russian military aggression (66%). Moreover, not only membership in the EU, but even the status of a candidate for its membership for the vast majority of respondents (84%) is a clear signal for Russia that the country has chosen a Western course. It can be assumed that for this part of the respondents, the failure to obtain the status of a candidate for EU membership indicates, if not directly the opposite, then it may still indicate a dubious foreign policy orientation of the country.
Do you agree with the following terms:
As for the benefits of joining the EU by industry, the respondents most of all expect positive things in the economy (57%). This answer is far behind, although in terms of frequency of mention, the second or third place is occupied by education (42%) and the protection of human rights and the rule of law (41%). The top five also include benefits in healthcare (35%) and military (36%) – the perception of the EU's role in the latter is likely due to events in Ukraine.
It should also be noted that the absolute majority of respondents - 89% perceived the granting of the status of a candidate for EU membership in the near future as a fair decision in relation to Georgia. Therefore, it is important that the decision of June 17 does not increase the feeling of apathy, and that the country's authorities do everything possible to implement the package of recommendations and stand on the right side of history.
To answer this question we firstly need to look closer to the challenges most companies are facing now: global crisis caused by pandemic resulted in limited operations in many companies; staff members stressed and exhausted due to pandemic situation - suffering by less sleep hours, lowered motivation and longing for live relationships, etc.; inner state of the people full with compassion towards the Ukraine – being present here physically and mentally, with their hearts beating for Ukraine; blocked trade channels and roads, etc. caused by the war.
All the aforementioned and many other emerging challenges need to be confronted with the new approaches so far. Consequently, the number of companies with similar problems came up to understanding that now there is the right time for significant changes and put the Organizational Transformation issue on their agenda.
||Transformation in itself means making significant changes within the organization which inevitably will result in the effectiveness of the company. The question is how to ensure positive results? We would suggest a way similar to that of how you would increase the probability of conquering the peak of Everest – i.e. you need to go through the necessary preparational process and build a reliable team. Consequently, the people with whom we team together to conquer Everest, need to be exactly the ones we can rely on in the process of the company’s transformation!|
Following the organizational structure, we can only find the formal leaders, who in consideration of their obligations and responsibilities may have a specific positional impact. Though, we cannot even dream of making a step to the Peak Everest, backed up only with positional impact, can we?! Consequently, we need to extend the searching area and look for informal leaders among the employees in any positions.
Through spotting the informal leaders the company can afford to identify those employees who can leverage the transformational process. These persons:
A number of companies may apply the different organizational researches, though none of the traditional internal organizational research is capable to solve this issue.
In order to spot genuine leaders in the company, the ACT team has invented a new innovative tool for the managers and HR specialists – A Leadership Scanner®.
However, one of the most important functions of the Leadership Scanner® is explained by the title itself – scanner of leaders – which on a basis of specifically designed query and ONA scans the company and reveals those employees who can be thought of as the most reliable during the crisis or transformation periods.
The query is designed in a way that requires the answers which are: 1) non-conflicting – no need in praising performance or efficiency of other employees; 2) objective – impossible to artificially put the informal leaders forward; 3) evidence-based – revealing the existing facts, not suggestions.
The results can be viewed based on easily understandable visual materials/schemes/networks and interactive platforms, enabling high flexibility of the analysis.
It is quite possible to view not only the total picture of the company but also to observe the results at specific departmental and individual levels while obtaining the unique insights and analytics (where rests the unrealized potential; which department is in more need of professional development; where are the weak delegation or micromanagement issues spotted; where the strain is observed; where does the company need the empowerment of the intermediate link, etc. )
Relying on the team of spotted informal leaders and based on insights and analytics, the company is well-positioned to inevitably conquer Everest or any other peak of success.