It has never been easier to conduct market research on a global scale. Widespread adoption of technology and access to the Internet are making international business possible almost anywhere in the world.
However, before diving headfirst into a global market research initiative, know what you are getting yourself into. It won't be as simple as copying and pasting your standard practices that you've perfected for domestic research. Instead, there are a number of new factors to consider as your online surveys and phone interviews cross borders.
Interested in conducting international market research?
Be sure to consider how processes might be impacted by crossing borders.
Tip 1: Build Time for Translation into the Schedule
As one can imagine, there are several extra steps when research is conducted outside of a home country. Commonly, translation of research materials is needed for participants, vendors, clients, or a combination of the three.
Translation is often required for recruitment materials, surveys, fieldwork guides, and interview transcripts. In some cases, only localization of a language may be necessary, such as different dialects of English. These steps ultimately require more time to be budgeted in the project schedule.
For qualitative projects, a client may be interested in live observation of in-depth interviews or focus groups in international markets. A real-time translator would need to be involved in these situations if the research is completed in a different language than that of the client. A live translator offers the chance for client input or questions as the research is occurring.
Quality checks after translation such as local vendor input or additional survey testing may go a long way in assuring fieldwork goes smoothly. Secondary research on the best cities or markets for the study are also important before making a decision on international research.
Tip 2: Account for Exchange Rates
Depending on the type of research, exchange rates for currency may play a pivotal role in a global market research study. Administrative components of a project like participant incentives or client/vendor invoices will need some thought on how to handle the different forms of currency.
Exchange rates may also have significance in the research design. Pricing research completed in multiple international markets will demand careful attention to currency conversions.
Tip 3: Consider Time Zones
Timing of events throughout a project becomes more complicated when there are parties in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. For example, real-time communications between researchers in the US and clients in China will either be very late or very early in the day for one side. A delayed response must be factored in when considering contact via email, as well.
Additional logistical work is needed for scheduling interviews or focus groups in foreign markets. This responsibility is often contracted out to a local vendor, but research companies could still be required to accommodate a client listening in from the other side of the globe.
For online surveys, the strategy for distribution to respondents could depend on local times in the international markets. A form of automated distribution overnight might be the best bet if timing is critical to the study.
Tip 4: Be Cognizant of Cultural Norms
Market research is not done the same way in every culture. Because cultures can be so inherently different, researchers must stop to consider how processes might work at the international level.
When drafting a survey or discussion guide, be sure questions are relevant for each market of interest. Don't expect every question to be worded the same way with the same answer choices across the board. Instead, spend time localizing questions where needed and study up on what you should be asking. For example, some cultures find questions inquiring about ethnicity or income to be offensive, or even illegal.
For recruiting participants, the help of a local vendor's expertise may be necessary to find the desired target. Some cultures are very skeptical of international market research firms and will refuse to participate out of distrust.
In the analysis and reporting stage, also be cautious of how data and findings are compared. Side-by-side comparisons of data in two different countries may be an apples to oranges comparison. These findings are often best analyzed individually, within the context of the same culture.
Contact Our Global Market Research Company
Drive Research is a global market research company in the U.S. Our team has the capabilities to do international research in many countries and languages.
Questions about conducting an international market research study? Contact us below.