Page 4: Market research
Research would help to estimate the market potential of those who would want to use Provident Financial’s home credit services. It was carried out in three stages to identify suitable countries into which Provident Financial might expand. It consisted of:
- in-house desktop research
- country visits
- primary market research.
Desktop research involves using existing secondary materials as a basis for research. This enabled economic, social, political and legislative data to be gathered on a country by country basis. Country visits by senior UK managers to Poland and the Czech Republic added to the company’s knowledge of these countries, which had been built up from desktop research. These visits also allowed the company to develop contacts with specialists in each country on areas such as taxation, business law and human resources. Assistance was also given by the British Chamber of Commerce who provide guidance to British companies considering investing overseas.
Provident Financial also commissioned primary market research companies to conduct qualitative and quantitative market research among its potential customers in Poland and the Czech Republic. The qualitative research investigated the in-depth views of small groups of people on the home credit service which Provident hoped to offer. Quantitative interviews were also conducted to assess the views of larger numbers of potential home credit customers to the service Provident was hoping to introduce. The results of the research data were positive and confirmed that there would be strong demand for home credit in Poland and the Czech Republic.
It was decided that pilot operations should be established in Poland and the Czech Republic. If these proved successful then the company’s operations would be rolled out throughout these countries and a network of branches would be established. One of the first steps was to find suitable premises. These had to be affordable and needed to be located in areas which were convenient, safe and accessible to agents.
In the UK, experienced managers guide the agents of Provident Personal Credit. Efficient computerised administrative systems ensure that the loans granted to customers and repayments collected from them on a weekly basis are promptly processed. These management information systems are linked to Provident Financial’s UK head office. Before Provident Financial’s first overseas customer could be granted a loan, these systems had to be installed, tested, linked to the company’s UK head office and staff needed to be trained to operate them.