Globalisation is bringing the world closer and closer together and, for manufacturers and service providers, making new markets more accessible than ever before. With e-commerce, easy access to secure payment and ever more simple international shipping and delivery we have more opportunities to take advantage of consumers across the globe rather than the ones that are simply in our own backyard.
When researching expansion into new markets, there are plenty of challenges. Differences in language, culture and consumer behaviour can make what on the surface seems like a straightforward proposition into one that’s more complex. However, with the help of an experienced market research agency, there’s a way to navigate through these obstacles to gain information that will be invaluable when planning your business and marketing strategy.
One of the key things that can hinder the collection of meaningful results from international market research is the language barrier. While simple translation can take care of making a set of research questions understandable in a different language, the finer points of conveying the detail and nuance of the questions requires considerably more skill.
Although good survey construction will use the plainest language possible to avoid confusion and misinterpretation of questions, there are times when idiom and natural use of language will best convey the meaning that researchers are aiming to put across. It is important in these situations to find people who are fully fluent in both the originating language and that of the secondary target country to get across exactly what is meant to make sure meaning is not missed.
Mind the gap
One of the things that many people overlook when considering information from other countries is the cultural differences that exist between countries that may on the surface seem to be the same. Even countries that speak the same language have cultural differences that make it difficult to infer the same meaning from data that look the same. Divergent educational systems, a differing degree of religious faith involvement in the formation of public opinion and varying perspectives on the role of private enterprise in society can lead to a variety of ways in which an apparently straightforward set of results can be interpreted.
Working with an international market research agency can help to overcome some of these complexities. Whether carrying out analysis that seeks to identify differences between datasets or compare datasets to find both similarities and differences, experienced researchers can take data and turn it into meaningful information that has a much lower risk of exposure of the commissioning organisation to errors in interpretation.
Vive la difference
Depending on the plan to use the data gathered by research, some important decisions will be required early on. Given that your study groups in two or more different countries may not be comparable in a number of ways, knowing how you will use your information and what weight you will give to similarities and differences is vital.
Response rates to surveys may be governed by cultural factors rather than interest. The degree of positivity or negativity in responses may also be culturally driven rather than determined by interest in the product or service. Depending on the population you are surveying, it may be more difficult to reach your target market in one country than it is in another. All of these things will need to be considered and weighted when making decisions based on data gathered from more than one country.
Although international market research has its challenges, of which those set out above only scratch the surface, it also has huge rewards for those who choose to invest. Tapping into the expertise of an international market research agency allows you to understand how you can best position yourselves in an overseas market to increase your turnover or give you the intelligence to prevent you from making a costly mistake.