Market research is crucial to expanding your organization’s global footprint. While you may have confidence in your brand locally, broadening to new countries can significantly widen your knowledge gap, given the differences in language, culture and customs.
The best way to bridge this gap is to connect with existing or prospective customers locally. This will foster a deeper awareness of your buyers, users, or consumers and allow growth innovation to happen outside of a vacuum.
As you set out to perform global market research, you will soon find this, too, is a complicated landscape to navigate. The same challenges to reaching your audience may be the same challenges you face when finding a partner to assist locally.
The most obvious barrier is language, but even when there is a shared language, global project management requires attention to cultural nuances and customs. An effective global research partner has cross-cultural expertise, a local presence, and established trust and rapport with researchers and participants.
Must-Haves for Vetting a Qualified International Research Partner
1. In-Country Experience and Knowledge of Your Target Vicinity
It is vital that your partners have boots on the ground. This can mean they are located in-country or that they have strong relationships with local firms. Either way, an intimate awareness of the area is essential. Engaging quality research participants means knowing how easy it is for them to travel to the facility. Is there parking, is the train close, are there other means of transportation to take into consideration? It also means finding the right facility, convenient and comfortable for your audience.
A recruiting vendor with experience in the country will also know the suitable incentive for participants. Each country and culture can vary drastically. Experience in one area doesn’t always equate to another.
Choosing a quality international market research partner means that the vendor knows the country and area well. And knowing the country means knowing nuanced tips to help you beyond your research, such as the best hotels and restaurants to fit your travel needs.
2. Profound Understanding of Cultural Differences
The demographic questions of a screener can easily take a backseat to the primary qualifying criteria but special attention should be given to this section when adapting your research to another country.
Field Directors should consider the culture before using their standard questions for all countries or regions. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours researching cultural nuances for each country. Instead, a quality, local recruitment team should offer support to ensure your screener is locally appropriate and culturally sensitive before the screening ever begins.
3. Native Speaking Moderators and Recruiters
It’s vital to choose a partner with established relationships with moderators and recruiters who not only speak the language, but are native speakers. They will follow idioms, humor, and colloquialisms from screening through the interview.
It’s also important that your vendor has local teams who also understand market research. Translators, note takers and other support staff who speak the language of market research can provide additional insight if they understand the nuance of both the culture and market research.
Participants will freely express their opinions, which provides deeper quality insights about a product or service, when the moderator fully understands the subtleties and nuance of the conversation.
Getting off on the right foot means more forthright, honest answers from the respondents. As Fieldwork’s President of Network International, Abby Goodell, stated, “Including native cultural ideals in your research leads to deeper insights. The alternative is you may be getting data, but is it completely authentic? Sometimes subtle changes may be necessary in execution.”
4. An Eye for Details - Time Zones, Tech tests, and Simultaneous Translators
A quality vendor is there to guide you through the details. Everything from time zone differences to understanding the technical limitations in the region or country. Is the video recording set up? Are the video/audio conference links created and shared with the appropriate individuals? Is your translator prepared? Is the video streaming technology pre-tested? Having the right vendor who is proactively managing these logistics will help you and your stakeholders focus on the research.
5. Are the responsibilities of a nurse the same in France as South Korea?
Hit the ground running. Start your project by finding a research partner who knows the answer. It’s not uncommon for individuals with the same job title to perform different duties in different countries. Likewise, individuals with different job titles can perform the same duties. Working with a local expert who understands the variances saves you time and helps you stay on budget.
There are many crucial aspects of international research projects. Choosing to handle the details on your own or sourcing vendors to handle individual tasks can cloud communication and create speed bumps.
A qualified international research partner handles all the nuanced details so you can focus on what you do best – the insights.
Never miss a detail.
For local and global fieldwork – we know the details matter. That's why we created this checklist. Download this all-in-one, organized solution to keep you on track toward success, no matter the scope or project type.