International Market Research: How to Survey Markets Across the Globe

Conducting business internationally, while profitable, isn't short of challenges. Engagement differs across markets, aligning sales and marketing efforts needs extreme coordination, the list goes on. 

Luckily, market research can help. 

Learn more about a recent study our market research company conducted on behalf of an international healthcare company that wanted to learn more about their members and non-members across Chile, Mexico, and the U.S.


Challenge: Improving Customer Retention & Acquisition

A leading international healthcare insurance company was seeking answers from members on how they can improve their service offerings. They specifically wanted to understand how they could simplify their online products and make them more user-friendly.

This insight would help improve their healthcare platform and have a direct correlation on increasing customer retention.

In addition to exploring longer-term opportunities that increase profitability with members, the health insurance client also wanted to learn about their non-members.

They asked questions such as, “How do we compare to competitors?” and “If we explore new international markets, what area will be most profitable?”

While people can all make assumptions about their customers and non-customers, market research is the only approach that will deliver actionable, quality data to answer these important business questions.

Solution: Hybrid Market Research Study

Based on the challenges and objectives set forth by the international health insurance company partnered, Drive Research recommended conducting a qualitative and quantitative market research study.

The exploratory research included telephone in-depth interviews and the quantitative approach included an online survey.

The multi-component project explored and quantified core objectives centered around:

  • Buying decisions
  • Sources used
  • The process for purchasing
  • Frequency of purchase
  • Timeline
  • Budget

It also focued on critical features, coverage, and benefits to health insurance and U.S. hospitals, price sensitivity, motivating criteria, meeting needs, and life improvement.

To begin the project, Drive Research created a detailed proposal for the client to review and approve. Once approved, our team conducted a kickoff meeting to discuss the project’s objectives, approach, and timeline in more detail.

Approach to Phone IDIs

When conducting hybrid market research studies, Drive Research recommends beginning with the qualitative component. Doing so allows researchers to gather in-depth feedback and overall themes from a small sample of people.

With this feedback, researchers are then able to shape what questions are included in an online survey that is fielded to a much larger audience.  

Recruiting Participants for the Phone IDIs

Drive Research recruited all non-member participants through an email list/panel. Additionally, our health insurance client provided a contact list/database of members in each country for recruitment.

Potential candidates are first screened through an online survey. This first step allows our team to have a list of pre-qualified participants to follow up with by phone.  

We re-screen by phone to ensure they meet all qualifying criteria set forth by the client. The outreach by phone adds a personal touch to the process and helps build rapport and commitment from participants.

When recruiting for qualitative studies, our market research firm also includes communication touchpoints such as:

  • A confirmation email requesting a yes response
  • A calendar invitation with meeting information
  • A test run
  • A reminder phone call
  • A reminder text

The qualitative interviews covered a variety of topics to address strategic planning initiatives. Additionally, our project team created a moderator’s guide and activities for the interviewer to follow.

These documents were approved by the international health insurance company one week before the beginning of the interviews. This timeframe allowed enough time for edits.

Details of the Phone IDIs

  • Drive Research conducted a total of 20 IDIs across 3 countries (the U.S., Mexico, and Chile).
  • The in-depth interviews (IDIs) in each country were split to include 4 members and 4 non-members of the client’s locations in Mexico and Chile, as well as 4 non-members in the U.S.
  • All in-depth interviews will be conducted by telephone. Each phone interview will last up to 45 minutes.
  • The interviews will be scheduled at convenient times for the consumer.
  • Each participant will be paid to generate interest and reward the time spent with the moderator. These were managed by the qualitative partner in each of the local countries.
  • Transcripts for the audio files were provided by Drive Research in English.
  • The international markets which offer the most cost-effective and feasible scope for interviews were Mexico and Chile.
  • Any markets not covered in the qualitative can be a focus of the survey.

Approach to the Quantitative Survey

Our full-service market research firm utilized the feedback obtained from the interviews to draft survey questions in a Word document.

It included questions recommended by our survey team based on past healthcare and health insurance project experience and customized criteria for the client’s needs.

The online survey was targeted to both:

  • Members of the health insurance company
  • Non-member consumers

Findings Respondents for the Online Survey

To source respondents for the online survey, Drive Research leveraged a member database provided to the team for the surveys.

For the non-member survey, Drive Research leveraged a network of partner email lists/panels to collect feedback.

Non-members were qualified to ensure they were:

  • Decision-makers
  • Those with an average/higher than average socioeconomic status
  • Those who currently have, or are interested in having an international insurance plan

Additionally, the survey questions, invite, and reminders offered translations to English, Spanish, and Portuguese to address the key markets for the client, including Brazil, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the U.S.

Details of the Online Survey

  • S. non-members (n200)
  • Latin America members (n200) and non-members (n200)
  • Brazil members (n200) and non-members (n200)
  • Caribbean members (n200) and non-members (n200)
  • Total sample size (n1400) (+/- 2.6% margin of error at 95% confidence interval)
  • The survey took 5-7 minutes to complete and included ~25 questions

Findings of the International Market Research Project

Our healthcare market research firm offers various reporting tiers for both qualitative and quantitative studies. In this example, the client chose a comprehensive market research report.

The comprehensive reporting package includes components such as background and methodology, an infographic, and an executive summary of key themes and findings.

Additionally, our client was given the respondent datafile, question-by-question charts, and Excel cross-tabulation file with significance testing was delivered separately.

The international market research project was successful in answering all objectives including:

  • Important factors when selecting international health insurance
  • How likely members were to recommend the health insurance company to others
  • Likelihood to be a member for life
  • Satisfaction ratings
  • Most critical conditions for international health insurance
  • Preferred channel for ongoing service policy (online vs. agent/broker)
  • Preferring pricing for different plans
  • The appeal of potential member programs

Conduct International Market Research with Drive

Drive Research is a global market research company serving organizations across the world. We specialize in various qualitative and quantitative methodologies such as online surveys, focus groups, intercept surveys, and more

Curious to learn more about our U.S. market research firm? Contact us today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

subscribe to our blog



Market Research Case Studies Online Surveys Phone Surveys Qualitative Recruiting