Multi Country Market Research

Multicountry Market Research

Multicountry Market Research is a type of project that involves multiple countries.

Often, different countries and regions are analyzed.  The data and insights gained can be further analyzed for patterns, similarities, differences, opportunities and challenges for a company.  The benefits are comprehensive insights for strategic decision making and business growth.

What makes multicountry research different and more challenging?

It is may be challenging to conduct market research about your company, its products or services in just your own country. But what if you need to study other markets on a global basis? There are a few key factors that need to be considered. Some are obvious, others not.

Because of idioms and words with multiple meanings or pronunciations, translated phrases may have unintended connotations or result in confusion.

English spoken in different regions of the US or the UK can vary to the point where it is not understood by others who share that written language. The same is true with written and spoken Spanish in Spain and South American nations, Chinese within sections of that country, and so on.

In B2B or manufacturing industries where more specific technical terms are used, it is even more important to be sure that ambiguity is minimized.

It is best to have a native speaking person who is bilingual do translation and then back-translate any phone or online survey questions, interview scripts or focus group guides. Perhaps there are such people within your organization. Even if there are, it is a good idea to find a third party source in a local market that has such talent.

Whether you consider “taste” literally (food and beverage) or figuratively (clothing, cars, cosmetics, etc.), variations abound as you move from country to country and culture to culture. As such, it can be quite challenging to determine whether a successful product will perform as well when introduced to another region of the world.

Numeric ratings, such as on a common scale from 0 to 10, may differ due to one’s culture. In some countries, an 8 or 9 might be the highest number assigned since 10 would suggest perfection (deemed by some as impossible for a physical product or service to have).

Around the world, countries treat segments of their populations in very different ways. As such, any focus groups need to be carefully recruited. Women may be considered inferior and have fewer rights. Caste and class systems likewise influence how others are perceived. Even titles and job functions may cause some participants to speak more, or worse, not speak at all! Mixing the “wrong” people together could be non-productive.

Attitudes toward answering questions from strangers and concerns about privacy cannot only influence one’s willingness to respond but also the truthfulness of answers.

Furthermore, there are laws that limit or restrict contacting any citizen or business that is not already doing business with your company.

Even incentives (and their value) in the form of cash or gifts may be limited by certain laws.

To fully benefit from the research process, it is useful to visit as many locations as possible to gain a hands-on understanding of the people, their environment, and insights into why they hold certain attitudes and perceptions about a product or service. So there is an increased travel and entertainment (T&E) potential.

To be meaningful and actionable, there should be an adequate sample size for qualitative and/or quantitative research in each country as well as in total.

Then, each language that is added requires translation – not only the questions and scripts, but also the training materials. There may be an additional expense if the final report is to be circulated to foreign members of your company who read another language.

Next Steps

In observational research, even if you do not understand a foreign language, you can get a sense of what is being said in a focus group or interview by observing the gestures and body language of respondents when presented a new concept or product to examine. You can do this live or by watching video recordings. Likewise, by monitoring phone interviews, you can gain a feel for whether or not an interviewee is enthusiastic about an idea or subject.

When complete, a thorough analysis should reveal similarities and differences across your target markets. Will the same brand name, messaging, advertising, pricing, etc. be effective in all situations, or will marketing and promotional campaigns require multicountry customization?

Multicountry Market Research may be one of the most rewarding learning experiences you will ever have!  It can also provide immense benefits to your business.