Marketing research is the primary mechanism through which companies understand their current, as well as potential, customers. As companies contemplate the global marketplace, they must consider how domestic market research differs when conducted in international markets. In an effort to help internal client side marketing research managers design and implement improved international research studies, we briefly discuss the context for international market research and provide a framework for conducting international market research projects.
Additionally, we present overall factors that should be considered by marketers who engage in global market research studies. These factors represent the variety of challenges that must be addressed in order to conduct research across national borders. Particular attention is paid to the nuances related to primary data collection and questionnaire construction. 0 2006 Kelley School of Business, Indiana university. All rights reserved. 1. Marketing research goes global Changes in the global environment are presenting organizations with both new opportunities and challenges.
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Rapid advances in technology, increasing international trade and investment, growing wealth and affluence across the globe, and a convergence of consumer tastes and preferences are compelling businesses to expand their globalization strategies and tactics (laving & White, 2002). In C] Corresponding author. E-mail address: [email protected] Deed (R. B. Young). Essence, the global economy is forcing organizations to adapt to a new international order (Contain & Romaine, 2002; Ragman, 2001; Yap, 2002).
The process of international marketing research shares many commonalities with its domestic counterpart, namely the familiar steps of problem definition, methodology design, fieldwork, and IANAL report and recommendations. The major differences between the two involve disparities that spring from political, legal, economic, social, and cultural differences across countries, and the problem of comparability of research results (Kumar, 2000). 0007-6813/$ – see front matter @ 2006 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. DOI:1 0. 1 016/j. Usher. 2006. 08. 003 114 As organizations become more global in their operations, how will these companies continue to be able to carry on a meaningful dialog with their customers as they become ever more dispersed around the globe? Which countries represent the best opportunities for the organization’s products and services? How will these firms design countermeasure strategies that are customized for distant international market segments? Market research is the functional link between marketing management and an organization’s ultimate customer-base.
Baker and Announce (2003) argue persuasively that continual change and uncertainty in the global market is causing seismic shifts in the role of marketing research. Clearly, as globalization increases, firms will need to know how to better utilize market research approaches that enable hem to stay close to these worldwide and diverse customer segments. After briefly discussing the context for international market research, we provide a framework for conducting international market research projects.
Our framework is designed to help organizations with in-house market research departments that design and execute primary data collection projects in support of strategic marketing corporate initiatives. These corporate marketing research initiatives include projects requiring the development of target market and marketing mix strategies to support their products and services. Both corporate and tactical marketing decisions are further complicated by the numerous challenges involved with the agricultural context of global business.
Our framework is especially well suited to aid on- staff (i. E. , in-house) research project managers working for product or service marketers who are looking for comprehensive guidelines to help them design better global research projects in support of their internal executive management clients. Although we realize that our proposed framework is also applicable to external market research vendors, our objective is to provide internal search department managers with a useful tool to design effective international research projects.
By highlighting the various challenges involved in conducting international market research, we hope to help in-house marketing research managers design and implement more impacting and effective international research studies. Finally, we also discuss several agricultural factors that should be considered by marketers who engage in global market research studies, as these represent challenges that must be addressed in order to conduct effective research across national borders. R. B. Young R. G. Saving
Within the broader context of the international market research process, the focus of our paper addresses the nuances related to questionnaire construction and primary data collection issues. We believe these areas are especially critical (i. E. , problematic) when designing research projects that cut across national borders. Furthermore, we think the vast majority of clients who utilize in-house market research departments are more often exposed to challenges related to questionnaire construction and data collection.
Consequently, it is our position that this discussion will provide increased benefits for in-house market search project managers. We do not discuss other research methodologies including qualitative techniques, observational methods, and experimentation, nor do we address in detail the broader issues of scale development, measurement equivalence, sampling, and multivariate techniques.
It is our hope that this narrow focus on the specific issues related to questionnaire construction and international data collection challenges will provide the reader with a more useful set of tools and guidelines for conducting effective global research projects. 2. The importance of international marketing research Market research is the vital link between the organization and its customers. The objective Of sound market research is to interpret consumer behavior and translate the perspective of key customers into actionable marketing strategies.
Without this open dialog with customers, companies are unable to keep in touch with vital consumer behavior trends and the many influences that affect the customers of an organization. In today’s consumer environment of over-choice and over-communication, growth can only be realized by organizations that are very skilled at crafting well-targeted strategies directed at specific Cicero-niches Of the larger macro market. Companies that go to market without first uncovering specific segment needs and perceptions risk facing the monumental cost of marketing failure.
With new consumer product luau niches typically costing $25 million or more, the risk of not incorporating consumer behavior into marketing strategy is considerable. Since the mid-1 sass, the international research business has grown tremendously. In 1995, the top 25 global market research organizations had aggregate revenues of only $5. 7 billion, and 45% of their revenues came from outside the companies’ home countries. By 2004, revenues had grown 1 33%, to International marketing research: A global project management perspective $13. Billion, while out-of-home-country share grew to 67% (Marketing News, 2005). As illustrated by these figures, it is clear that spending on international market research projects is on the rise in the U. S. And other countries. It has been estimated that it costs six times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep a current customer (Richened, 1996). This fact demands that organizations increasingly must stay in touch with their best customers. The most actionable method employed by market-driven organizations to keep pulse with their valued customers is the effective use of market research.
Only by having an open dialog with their customers can companies learn about the subtle shifts in buying preferences that, without proper management, ultimately lead to company and/or brand defection. As more organizations pursue global business strategies, they will require and demand international sources of market information. In order to compete effectively in the 21st century, these businesses will need specialized, targeted information about buyers in dispersed international markets.
Connell (2002) argues that, in the business- business market, there is ample justification for conducting international market research in support of the design, execution, and interpretation of a wide variety of global marketing strategies. As illustrated by the examples offered in this article, research tactics routinely used in the United States are much more problematic when deployed in developing foreign markets. Companies that pursue multi-domestic and global marketing strategies face a wide variety of strategic questions relating to foreign market entry.
According to Orderly (1996), prior to pursuing international marketing strategies, managers should ask: 15 markets, brands, and other strategic marketing mix variables is both challenging and problematic. Furthermore, the Internet may not necessarily be the optimum medium for conducting international market research projects, despite its rapid growth and acceptance by certain consumers. 3. Think globally, learn locally As stated by Craig and Douglas (2005), effective and timely market research is an essential tool for developing strategy in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
The authors contend that international market research is increasingly needed to address a wide variety of global marketing challenges including correctly positioning new products, avoiding product formulation errors, accurately understanding cultural challenges, identifying appropriate promotion messages, being cognizant of geographical differences, and examining language and translation problems. In order to make effective marketing strategy decisions, marketers who are increasingly drawn to the global marketplace because of the opportunity it represents need a reliable and valid source of information.
Craig and Douglas (2005) discuss three major information needs relative to international market research. These represent: 1) Information needed for international market entry. This includes information concerning macro issues (e. G. , the political, legal, and regulatory environment of each foreign country) and micro issues (e. G. , product or service sales potential, market growth rate, and competitive intensity). (2) Information needed for local market planning. These issues primarily surround strategies and tactics related to developing the appropriate marketing mix. 3) Information related to global rationalization. This involves evaluating and integrating data previously collected in order to monitor hanged in the international environment. ; Have international sales been increasing as a percentage of overall revenue? ; Are international markets growing faster than domestic markets? ; Does the organization have the same competitive position outside the U. S.? ; Are the fundamental needs of foreign customers known? ; What is the interaction of the four Up’s in foreign markets? Can the Internet help with research design? 4. The international market research framework The answers to these and other questions can help organizations prioritize their need for international marketing research. While it makes sense for increasing numbers of companies to go global, making the correct decisions regarding target Through the use of marketing research practices, international product and service providers can develop the most effective international marketing strategies that will lead to sustainable competitive advantage.
Fig. 1 illustrates the international To accomplish these critical information Objectives, marketers require an international market research framework. 116 Figure 1 The international market research framework. Source: Adapted and modified from Douglas and Craig (2000) and Kumar (2000). Arrest research process within the context of the four familiar stages Of the domestic research process: setting objectives, designing methodology, collecting data, and reporting findings.
The four traditional stages of the market research process are shown providing the larger context for cross-cultural market research. Although these stages are not unique to the international setting, they provide the backdrop which highlights the potential challenges posed by international research designs. For example, information requirements at the corporate, regional, and local levels will likely vary widely between different countries. Tactical decisions that may help the product or service in one country may not fit within the broader strategic goals of the organization.
Similarly, examining previous data and collecting secondary data may be much more difficult in some countries, depending on the state of the market research infrastructure present. Additionally, within the methodology step, the unit of analysis has four different levels ranging from local to global. Clearly, the unit of analysis varies between traditional studies and projects conducted across international boundaries. It is much easier to design a questionnaire focused on a single local market, as opposed to a study that represents a global unit of analysis.
Further, conducting fieldwork across country lines poses many challenges. Analyzing data, incorporating new knowledge, and modifying business strategies are more difficult and time consuming when the unit of analysis includes a larger worldwide context. Each step of the traditional research process when applied to the international setting holds a potential for significant challenges, which we hope to highlight. 4. 1 . Setting research objectives Like its domestic counterpart, the international market research process begins with a clear understanding of the specific search objectives.
Determining what information is required, and at what level, is the necessary first step. As in domestic research, information may be required for decision making at different levels in the organization, from the corporate level relating to strategic issues, down to local operating units where concerns are often more tactical (Craig & Douglas, 2005). Projects at the management level cover broad issues such as brand awareness and tracking, while those at the decision making level may involve more tactical issues like local pricing, packaging, and other marketing mix decisions.
If the research robber is not clearly articulated, the research collected will not adequately answer the specific problem. Unfocused research studies rarely, and only then by accident, relate to the management problem under consideration. Another flaw of studies conducted without critical thinking concerning objectives is that the resulting research design may well elicit unusable information. For example, a project with the objective of obtaining customer impressions on a corporate merger will not elicit information on why customers are defecting to competitive brands.
International marketers should also consider any revises data that the organization may have. New data should always be considered within the context of existing information. Moreover, secondary data is often used as a supplement to primary data, so its usefulness should be considered early during the research objectives stage. The international environment, however, makes these activities more difficult to conduct. In given countries, previously collected data may not exist; further, secondary sources may not be as prevalent in developing parts of the world as compared to more Westernizes markets. 4. 2.
Designing research methodology The second major step in the international market research process involves designing the methodology. Whether domestic or international in focus, this is the critical step of any research project. In order to construct the most effective methodology, researchers must have a broad perspective of the many methodological options available. Variations range from primary to secondary research, qualitative and quantitative, experiments, test markets, observations, and surveys, just to name a few. In the international context, the specific unit Of analysis is critical and relates to the research design stage.
For example, corporate decisions would require more of a global or regional approach; in contrast, tactical marketing mix decisions would require more of a local unit of analysis. Designing the primary methodology is specifically related to how the data will be collected from respondents and analyzed. In this paper, we employ a narrow definition of methodology as it relates to the specific data collection method that will be utilized (e. G. , in-person, telephone, mail, Internet survey). The sampling plan and measurement equivalence concepts are also much more complicated in an international Arrest research environment.
This critical stage in the process requires decade Tate time and attention to address the many details that are involved with international projects. Instrument translation, primary research method (e. G. , in-person, telephone, mail, or Internet survey), and data analysis technique issues pose many challenges for international market researchers due to their varying levels of presence, acceptance, and utilization across worldwide markets. 4. 3. Collecting data and reporting findings Once the appropriate data collection methodology is selected, fieldwork must be conducted.
Essentially, this executes the research design developed during stage 2. The next step involves analyzing findings and providing a management report, along 117 with a summary of the strategic recommendations. The new knowledge should be incorporated into the organization’s database and business strategies should be appropriately modified. This process repeats itself as needed through the information feedback loop to address future information requirements. The method described is a very straightforward and common procedure in the United States, Western Europe, and other developed countries.