Tackling modern changes in global market research
Last week Reineke Reitsma, Research Director at Forrester Research, wrote a very insightful article about global research for the Forrester blog for Market Insights professionals on RW Connect. Reineke is obviously very interested in doing research across different countries and cultures and her two decades work in Market Research has allowed her to gain some interesting views on the subject. However, Reineke says that she believes that conducting international research is even more challenging now than it was 20 years ago, when she started her research career.
She outlines some of her reasons for why she believes this to be the case and talks of the challenges researchers face when conducting global research.
One point that she raises in her article is how best to adapt methodologies and questionnaires so that they are globally comparable across different cultures. She claims that ‘as soon as the surveyed cultures are so different that you need to adapt research methodologies, you’ve lost the chance for global comparisons.’ This suggests that there is a fine line between globalization and localization and this is something that needs to be addressed prior to any research method being carried out.
Another challenge is how to put to data into a local context, as the real drivers of behaviour in different regions can be very difficult to understand. A simple case of looking at results and comparing them with those of other countries may result in completely the wrong conclusions.
Finally, Reineke identifies problems with distributing and communicating these results back. She claims that collecting information is one thing, but communicating it back to local organisations and having them act on it is quite another. She asks the question: ‘will local market insights teams use, share and implement the data you have collected globally?’
However, these are the problems that have always surrounded this type of research, so why is it so much harder now? Reineke believes that it is partly because of the huge rise in social media and technology which is causing information to travel faster than ever before, making the world seem smaller. ‘It feels like we know everything, or at least we could. But knowing doesn’t necessary equal understanding.’ She adds that the understanding and analysis of information from different regions is extremely challenging because our brain translates new information into concepts that we feel familiar with. This can cause us to make assumptions about things that we think we know. But is it true?
Reineke is working on a research framework that gives Market Insights Professionals a guide for the collecting, analysing, and communicating global research. This process also includes the kind of information needed, how to move from data to actual insight, and an overview of solutions that can help you share these insights.
One of the key components of this framework is collaboration with local teams, as they are believed to be the ones that in many cases can make or break a project. Three tips outlined by Reineke are:
- Make sure you engage with them before you need them; make them feel part of your team.
- Work with local resources to vet the final outcome: Get additional insights and feedback and brainstorm possible action items. Don’t report local results back into the global organization without a local check. It’s so easy to get this wrong.
- Make sure you communicate from the get-go how you will share the final results, when you will share them, and, most importantly, with whom you will share them. Don’t give local teams the impression that you’re going over their heads.
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