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MRSI introduces new socio-economic classification system 'ISEC' for targeted consumer understanding

ISA, research users from ITC, HUL, Marico, Dabur India, and research agencies such as Kantar, IPSOS, along with major media agencies are ready to adopt ISEC.

India’s sole and autonomous market research industry body, Market Research Society of India (MRSI) has announced the adoption and implementation of its latest Socio-economic Classification System, ‘ISEC’. The current Socio-economic Classification (SEC) being followed in India is based on ownership of consumer durables and vehicles. The growth in GDP and income, penetration of consumer durables, and ownership of vehicles has witnessed a significant increase, leading to the current socio-economic classification becoming less discriminatory and more volatile. The need to redefine the key variables led to the formation of a more stable, and more robust construct, ‘ISEC.’ Among the various industry stakeholders on track to adopt ISEC are The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), research users of various organisations such as ITC, HUL, Marico, Dabur India, etc., research agencies including Kantar, IPSOS, as well as key media agencies.

MRSI introduces new socio-economic classification system 'ISEC' for targeted consumer understanding

On rolling out the new socio-economic classification system, director general at MRSI, Mitali Chowhan said, “Socio-economic classification is the base of any targeted consumer understanding. At MRSI we recognise the need for an evolved SEC structure and ISEC is a system that is highly relevant. ISEC was developed by the industry, for the industry and unlike any previous classification system, it considers women’s education as a key definer of social capital, an attribute that is highly pertinent in current day. As an industry body, we are deeply invested in our stakeholders and the launch of ISEC is in line with our commitment to help our industry grow and evolve.”

MRSI introduces new socio-economic classification system 'ISEC' for targeted consumer understanding

Socio-economic classification enables brands and agencies to understand their target audience’s behaviour and profiles and set price points. Updates to the current socio-economic classification is critical given the changing landscape of Indian households. ISEC addresses this with classification using household education and occupation profiles.

In line with the roll-out of ISEC, MRSI organised a panel discussion that reaffirmed the importance of an evolved Socio-economic classification system to target consumers. Reinforcing ⁠their thoughts were senior industry leaders Amit Adarkar, CEO of IPSOS India, ⁠Jasmine Sachdeva, Managing Partner of Wavemaker India, ⁠Muralidhar Salvateeswaran, Chief Operations Office, Insights APAC at Kantar, ⁠Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media at Dabur India, ⁠Vivek Malhotra, Group CMO of India Today Group and Vinay Virwani, Head - Consumer Insights at Dabur India. The panel that was moderated by MRSI’s General Secretary, Shuvadip Banerjee, Chief Digital Marketing Officer of ITC Ltd. discussed the increased need for a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour, media targeting, and challenges the industry is faced with given the existing NCCS construct.

MRSI’s ISEC takes on an advanced approach by including the occupation of chief earner, education of highest educated male adult as well as education of highest educated female adult. Created by a team of seasoned experts and professionals from across the research and insights industry using National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the Worldpanel division, Kantar, Indian Readership Survey (IRS), and referencing data from VTION,  ICUBETM, among others.

Speaking on the new SEC, Sunil Kataria, CEO – Raymond Lifestyle - India & International, and chairman of The Indian Society of Advertisers said, “The development and progress of our economy is at a rapid pace. At such a pace it is even more important for us as advertisers and spenders to understand our consumers and their behaviour. ISEC is representative, relevant and robust. It gives us a holistic view of our audience segment and how they are equipped to make decisions. We welcome this new socio-economic classification and will continue to work with MRSI to further strengthen this system as and when required.”

ISEC paves the path for enhanced distribution and more precise targeting. It is significantly more reliable than NCCS, eliminating the necessity for frequent updates. Additionally, social capital in India can be characterised by female education, which has contributed to the improvement of 'discrimination'.

Speaking on the implementation, Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands India, further added, “A better and deeper understanding of consumer cohorts is always appreciated. It equips brands the opportunity to identify and target consumers in a sharper manner and opens up avenues for sharper communications. ISEC is highly discriminatory which is also crucial in current times. The implementation was long due and we are certain that this will help the industry considerably going forward.”

As a representative of India's social and economic classes, ISEC is effective for both urban and rural areas, it is simple and fast to use, and it does not intrude on privacy. ISEC consists of a 1 to 12 tier classification system, is open-source, and is accessible to all industry participants.

SEC systems are used by all research companies, advertisers, and measurement bodies to target households.

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