Best PracticesMarket Research

Principles of Remarkable Research: Bonus Article

Remarkable Researchers Understand the Global Economy

global research

It is a classic dilemma; many companies that are selling in numerous countries can only afford to do research in a subset of them. How does a market researcher deliver research with this obstacle? Three steps to take are as follows:

  • Be crystal clear when delivering all research results. What is the geographic scope of the research? A specific country? Region? I have seen it happen many times; the audience assumes that since their company is “global” the research is as well—when in fact the research may have been based on 2 or 3 countries.
  • Select the countries carefully. Too often, researchers select countries based on past projects (“We always do our research in the U.S., UK, France, and Germany.”). Challenge old assumptions! What mix of countries will give you the insights you need for your organization’s current business initiatives?
  • Educate the audience on how geographic variations impact customer behavior and attitudes. This usually applies more notably to consumer markets than B2B ones, but issues still arise. Here are just a few quick examples out of many known issues:
    • Different colors have different associations by geography. Red is “positive” in some cultures but negative in others. This can impact reactions to ads and product packaging.
    • Internet access penetration varies by country, and in many cases, within countries. Some brands have enormous word of mouth via online media, which will not have an impact in certain geographies.
    • The role of male versus female heads of households or the person driving purchase decisions for certain categories varies by country. Thus, research about purchase intent or price sensitivity based on one country cannot be assumed for all.

    By educating the audience on such issues as they apply to the research being done, you can advise them on what findings are likely to be at greatest risk for country-by-country variations, even when you didn’t have budget to actually conduct research in every country of interest.  Ideal? No. But still an important risk mitigation step.

Global Perspectives from Market Research

In an ideal world, market researchers would have adequate budgets for multinational research needs.  But in reality, we often have to focus on a limited number of countries for a given project.  Mitigate the risks by selecting countries carefully, communicating with the audience precisely, and providing contextual information about known regional variations in customer attitudes and behaviors.



Kathryn Korostoff

Kathryn Korostoff is founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar. Over the past 25 years, she has personally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100 bylined articles in magazines. She is also a professor at Boston University, where she teaches grad students how to analyze and report quantitative data.

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