#Quantum16: Nielsen Market Statistics: “The bestsellers do still really matter.”

Part of the Around the World in 8 Hours virtual conference. Nielsen’s International Market hour is one for the statistic aficionados: this session looks to give statistical insight into many international markets, including India, USA, Philippines, China, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and Poland – stopping points of the day’s conference. All images are taken from this presentation, and can be viewed on Bright Talk.

Consumer confidence vs. economic reality.
Global consumer confidence is at the highest level since 2006, but what factors go into this? “We’re asking about how they feel about their savings,” begins Andre, “their general employment situations, their leisure habits, their spending on things like going to the theatre, going to the movies, eating out. Do they plan to do more or less of these items? Do they plan to buy new music? Do they plan to buy new books? All those factors are included in this. It is aimed very much to represent how people feel about their economic future, not necessarily the economic reality.”

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Image: Nielsen Books Presentation

It is a bit more mixed in the countries he’ll be looking at today. India has the highest consumer confidence; Poland’s up the most quarter-on-quarter in Europe, though remains in the middle of the list. Consumer confidence declined in 8 of 14 Asia-Pacific markets, including China, the Philippines and New Zealand. It declined in Brazil, taking it to its lowest score for the country since 2005 – having said that, the market itself still appears robust. It also decreased in three out of five Middle East/ Africa markets.

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Image: Nielsen Books Presentation

“Many countries have seen growth year-on-year in physical sales,” he explains. Some negatives are there, but small – Italy and Spain have had larger declines previously, and these show a slow recovery rather than the assumed loss. For Germany, it’s a large book market, the third largest in the world and academically-focused. It could be more stagnation of the consumer market than a decline. The UK and Ireland came out of the economic recession faster than most of the other markets, and others are still recovering more gradually.

Next we move onto genre…

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Image: Nielsen Books Presentation

“Almost ignore the numbers here, just look at the shape,” he says. “I want to illustrate how different these markets are.” There are vast differences, particularly within the children’s market. * means they have excluded children’s textbooks out of the data, because it has a significant impact. “Wherever possible, we’re focusing on consumer purchases, not institutional purchases.”


“People forget that Google Maps and TripAdvisor really sunk areas of the book market.”

To touch on ebooks briefly, he notes, “So far, only really the UK and US markets have had significant ebook markets. In the US, of the overall market, probably about 35% of it is ebooks, UK approximately 29%, for all the other markets I’d say it’s under 10% and in some cases, under 5%.” In these USA, 500 books make up 16% of unit sales out of 2.4m books, showing that, “The bestsellers do still really matter.”

From digital comes some more good news: non-fiction seems to have firmly started to bounce back. “It is worth noting that non-fiction has done really well,” says Andre, “which I think is really encouraging because I think it has historically been the largest part of the market.” It’s diverse: colouring, cooking, history. “It was also probably the part of the market that was most impacted by the digital fear. I think people forget that Google Maps and TripAdvisor really sunk areas of the book market. SatNav had such a big impact on the atlases and maps market, which often people forget. So to see that the non-fiction book market is in healthy recovery, I think that’s really, really good news.”

Other great insights include the Philippines and their take-up of Wattpad, where a need was really met and took off. Publishing may appear lower, but their reading revolution has taken an entirely different and surprising route.

A really good insight into the industries across the world. The presentation will be made available, for those looking to dig into this a little deeper, with a look into more countries such as China, India, South Africa, Ireland, and many more.

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#Quantum16: Nielsen Market Statistics: “The bestsellers do still really matter.”

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