International marketing research


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International marketing research

  1. 1. Business Horizons (2007) 50, 113–122 marketing research: A global projectmanagement perspectiveRobert B. Young a,⁎, Rajshekhar G. Javalgi ba Business Division, Lorain County Community College, 1005 North Abbe Road, Elyria, OH 44035, USAb Nance College of Business Administration, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland,OH 44115-2214, USA KEYWORDS Abstract As organizations continue to pursue more global strategies, the need to International marketing; be able to understand consumers in far away places is increasing. Marketing research Global marketing is the primary mechanism through which companies understand their current, as well strategies; as potential, customers. As companies contemplate the global marketplace, they Marketing research; must consider how domestic market research differs when conducted in interna- Competitive advantage tional 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 several 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. © 2006 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.1. Marketing research goes global essence, the global economy is forcing organizations to adapt to a new international order (Czinkota &Changes in the global environment are presenting Ronkainen, 2002; Rugman, 2001; Yaprak, 2002).organizations with both new opportunities and The process of international marketing researchchallenges. Rapid advances in technology, increas- shares many commonalities with its domesticing international trade and investment, growing counterpart, namely the familiar steps of problemwealth and affluence across the globe, and a definition, methodology design, fieldwork, andconvergence of consumer tastes and preferences final report and recommendations. The majorare compelling businesses to expand their globaliza- differences between the two involve disparitiestion strategies and tactics (Javalgi & White, 2002). In that spring from political, legal, economic, social, and cultural differences across countries, and the ⁎ Corresponding author. problem of comparability of research results (Kumar, E-mail address: (R.B. Young). 2000).0007-6813/$ - see front matter © 2006 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2006.08.003
  2. 2. 114 R.B. Young, R.G. Javalgi As organizations become more global in their Within the broader context of the internationaloperations, how will these companies continue to market research process, the focus of our paperbe able to carry on a meaningful dialog with their addresses the nuances related to questionnairecustomers as they become ever more dispersed construction and primary data collection issues.around the globe? Which countries represent the We believe these areas are especially critical (i.e.,best opportunities for the organizations products problematic) when designing research projectsand services? How will these firms design consumer- that cut across national borders. Furthermore,based strategies that are customized for distant we think the vast majority of clients who utilizeinternational market segments? Market research is in-house market research departments are morethe functional link between marketing management often exposed to challenges related to question-and an organizations ultimate customer-base. naire construction and data collection. Conse-Baker and Mouncey (2003) argue persuasively that quently, it is our position that this discussion willcontinual change and uncertainty in the global provide increased benefits for in-house marketmarket is causing seismic shifts in the role of research project managers. We do not discussmarketing research. Clearly, as globalization other research methodologies including qualitativeincreases, firms will need to know how to better techniques, observational methods, and experi-utilize market research approaches that enable mentation, nor do we address in detail thethem to stay close to these worldwide and diverse broader issues of scale development, measure-customer segments. ment equivalence, sampling, and multivariate After briefly discussing the context for interna- techniques. It is our hope that this narrow focustional market research, we provide a framework on the specific issues related to questionnairefor conducting international market research construction and international data collectionprojects. Our framework is designed to help challenges will provide the reader with a moreorganizations with in-house market research useful set of tools and guidelines for conductingdepartments that design and execute primary effective global research collection projects in support of strategicmarketing corporate initiatives. These corporate 2. The importance of internationalmarketing research initiatives include projects marketing researchrequiring the development of target market andmarketing mix strategies to support their products Market research is the vital link between theand services. Both corporate and tactical market- organization and its customers. The objective ofing decisions are further complicated by the sound market research is to interpret consumernumerous challenges involved with the cross- behavior and translate the perspective of keycultural context of global business. Our framework customers into actionable marketing especially well suited to aid on-staff (i.e., in- Without this open dialog with customers, compa-house) research project managers working for nies are unable to keep in touch with vitalproduct or service marketers who are looking for consumer behavior trends and the many influencescomprehensive guidelines to help them design that affect the customers of an organization. Inbetter global research projects in support of todays consumer environment of over-choice andtheir internal executive management clients. over-communication, growth can only be realizedAlthough we realize that our proposed framework by organizations that are very skilled at craftingis also applicable to external market research well-targeted strategies directed at specificvendors, our objective is to provide internal micro-niches of the larger macro market. Compa-research department managers with a useful tool nies that go to market without first uncoveringto design effective international research pro- specific segment needs and perceptions risk facingjects. By highlighting the various challenges the monumental cost of marketing failure. Withinvolved in conducting international market new consumer product launches typically costingresearch, we hope to help in-house marketing $25 million or more, the risk of not incorporatingresearch managers design and implement more consumer behavior into marketing strategy isimpactful and effective international research considerable.studies. Finally, we also discuss several cross- Since the mid-1990s, the international researchcultural factors that should be considered by business has grown tremendously. In 1995, the topmarketers who engage in global market research 25 global market research organizations had aggre-studies, as these represent challenges that must gate revenues of only $5.7 billion, and 45% of theirbe addressed in order to conduct effective revenues came from outside the companies homeresearch across national borders. countries. By 2004, revenues had grown 133%, to
  3. 3. International marketing research: A global project management perspective 115$13.3 billion, while out-of-home-country share markets, brands, and other strategic marketinggrew to 67% (Marketing News, 2005). As illustrated mix variables is both challenging and these figures, it is clear that spending on Furthermore, the Internet may not necessarily beinternational market research projects is on the the optimum medium for conducting internationalrise in the U.S. and other countries. market research projects, despite its rapid growth It has been estimated that it costs six times as and acceptance by certain consumers.much to attract a new customer as it does to keepa current customer (Reichheld, 1996). This factdemands that organizations increasingly must stay 3. Think globally, learn locallyin touch with their best customers. The most As stated by Craig and Douglas (2005), effective andactionable method employed by market-driven timely market research is an essential tool fororganizations to keep pulse with their valued developing strategy in a rapidly changing globalcustomers is the effective use of market research. marketplace. The authors contend that interna-Only by having an open dialog with their customers tional market research is increasingly needed tocan companies learn about the subtle shifts in address a wide variety of global marketing chal-buying preferences that, without proper manage- lenges including correctly positioning new products,ment, ultimately lead to company and/or brand avoiding product formulation errors, accuratelydefection. understanding cultural challenges, identifying As more organizations pursue global business appropriate promotion messages, being cognizantstrategies, they will require and demand interna- of geographical differences, and examining lan-tional sources of market information. In order to guage and translation problems.compete effectively in the 21st century, these In order to make effective marketing strategybusinesses will need specialized, targeted informa- decisions, marketers who are increasingly drawn totion about buyers in dispersed international mar- the global marketplace because of the opportunitykets. Connell (2002) argues that, in the business-to- it represents need a reliable and valid source ofbusiness market, there is ample justification for information. Craig and Douglas (2005) discuss threeconducting international market research in support major information needs relative to internationalof the design, execution, and interpretation of a market research. These represent:wide variety of global marketing strategies. Asillustrated by the examples offered in this article, (1) Information needed for international marketresearch tactics routinely used in the United States entry. This includes information concerningare much more problematic when deployed in macro issues (e.g., the political, legal, anddeveloping foreign markets. regulatory environment of each foreign coun- Companies that pursue multi-domestic and glo- try) and micro issues (e.g., product or servicebal marketing strategies face a wide variety of sales potential, market growth rate, andstrategic questions relating to foreign market entry. competitive intensity).According to Rydholm (1996), prior to pursuing (2) Information needed for local market marketing strategies, managers These issues primarily surround strategies andshould ask: tactics related to developing the appropriate marketing mix.• Have international sales been increasing as a (3) Information related to global rationalization. percentage of overall revenue? This involves evaluating and integrating data• Are international markets growing faster than previously collected in order to monitor domestic markets? changes in the international environment.• Does the organization have the same competi- To accomplish these critical information objec- tive position outside the U.S.?• Are the fundamental needs of foreign customers tives, marketers require an international market research framework. known?• What is the interaction of the four Ps in foreign markets? 4. The international market research• Can the Internet help with research design? framework The answers to these and other questions can Through the use of marketing research practices,help organizations prioritize their need for inter- international product and service providers cannational marketing research. While it makes sense develop the most effective international marketingfor increasing numbers of companies to go global, strategies that will lead to sustainable competitivemaking the correct decisions regarding target advantage. Fig. 1 illustrates the international
  4. 4. 116 R.B. Young, R.G. JavalgiFigure 1 The international market research framework. Source: Adapted and modified from Douglas and Craig (2000) andKumar (2000).market research process within the context of the when applied to the international setting holds afour familiar stages of the domestic research potential for significant challenges, which we hope toprocess: setting objectives, designing methodology, highlight.collecting data, and reporting findings. The four traditional stages of the market research 4.1. Setting research objectivesprocess are shown providing the larger context for Like its domestic counterpart, the internationalcross-cultural market research. Although these market research process begins with a clear under-stages are not unique to the international setting, standing of the specific research objectives. Deter-they provide the backdrop which highlights the mining what information is required, and at whatpotential challenges posed by international research level, is the necessary first step. As in domesticdesigns. For example, information requirements at research, information may be required for decisionthe corporate, regional, and local levels will likely making at different levels in the organization, fromvary widely between different countries. Tactical the corporate level relating to strategic issues,decisions that may help the product or service in one down to local operating units where concerns arecountry may not fit within the broader strategic goals often more tactical (Craig & Douglas, 2005).of the organization. Similarly, examining previous Projects at the management level cover broaddata and collecting secondary data may be much issues such as brand awareness and tracking, whilemore difficult in some countries, depending on the those at the decision making level may involve morestate of the market research infrastructure present. tactical issues like local pricing, packaging, andAdditionally, within the methodology step, the unit of other marketing mix decisions. If the researchanalysis has four different levels ranging from local to problem is not clearly articulated, the researchglobal. Clearly, the unit of analysis varies between collected will not adequately answer the specifictraditional studies and projects conducted across problem. Unfocused research studies rarely, andinternational boundaries. It is much easier to design a only then by accident, relate to the managementquestionnaire focused on a single local market, as problem under consideration. Another flaw ofopposed to a study that represents a global unit of studies conducted without critical thinking con-analysis. Further, conducting fieldwork across coun- cerning objectives is that the resulting researchtry lines poses many challenges. Analyzing data, design may well elicit unusable information. Forincorporating new knowledge, and modifying busi- example, a project with the objective of obtainingness strategies are more difficult and time consuming customer impressions on a corporate merger willwhen the unit of analysis includes a larger worldwide not elicit information on why customers arecontext. Each step of the traditional research process defecting to competitive brands.
  5. 5. International marketing research: A global project management perspective 117 International marketers should also consider any with a summary of the strategic recommendations.previous data that the organization may have. New The new knowledge should be incorporated into thedata should always be considered within the context organizations database and business strategiesof existing information. Moreover, secondary data is should be appropriately modified. This processoften used as a supplement to primary data, so its repeats itself as needed through the informationusefulness should be considered early during the feedback loop to address future informationresearch objectives stage. The international environ- requirements.ment, however, makes these activities more difficult The method described is a very straightforwardto conduct. In given countries, previously collected and common procedure in the United States,data may not exist; further, secondary sources may Western Europe, and other developed countries.not be as prevalent in developing parts of the world as The market research industry, which was conceivedcompared to more Westernized markets. and matured in the U.S., today generates $16.1 billion annually, with $6 billion coming from4.2. Designing research methodology the United States, $7.6 billion from the EuropeanThe second major step in the international market Union, and $2.5 billion from the Asia Pacific region (Marketing News, 2005). With total market researchresearch process involves designing the methodol- expenditures of $20.15 billion globally, it is easy toogy. Whether domestic or international in focus, this see that the three major developed regions accountis the critical step of any research project. In order for the vast majority of international marketto construct the most effective methodology, research expenditures (Marketing News, 2005).researchers must have a broad perspective of the The presence of an adequate market researchmany methodological options available. Variations infrastructure offers a distinct advantage to devel-range from primary to secondary research, qualita-tive and quantitative, experiments, test markets, oped countries and rapidly growing markets. Characteristics comprising market research infra-observations, and surveys, just to name a few. In the structure consist of a variety of tools, data sources,international context, the specific unit of analysis is methodology options, and the like, all of whichcritical and relates to the research design stage. For help in executing market research projects. Theexample, corporate decisions would require more of availability of individual geographic market dataa global or regional approach; in contrast, tactical and the widespread use of huge databases, how-marketing mix decisions would require more of a ever, are primarily Western phenomena. Moreover,local unit of analysis. Designing the primary methodology is specifically the widespread prevalence of secondary data in North America and Europe is vastly superior to thatrelated to how the data will be collected from which is available in many developing foreignrespondents and analyzed. In this paper, we employ countries. The resource of more than 4000 fulla narrow definition of methodology as it relates to service market research suppliers provides anotherthe specific data collection method that will be North American advantage. When companies con-utilized (e.g., in-person, telephone, mail, Internet sider conducting market research outside Northsurvey). The sampling plan and measurement America, the availability of many of these tools,equivalence concepts are also much more compli-cated in an international market research environ- techniques, and secondary information sources comprising the market research infrastructurement. This critical stage in the process requires may be severely restricted.adequate time and attention to address the manydetails that are involved with international projects.Instrument translation, primary research method 5. Challenges of conducting international(e.g., in-person, telephone, mail, or Internet sur- marketing researchvey), and data analysis technique issues pose many Due to the complexities of conducting and managingchallenges for international market researchers dueto their varying levels of presence, acceptance, and market research projects across national bound- aries, many factors exist that, if not adequatelyutilization across worldwide markets. addressed, can negatively impact project manage-4.3. Collecting data and reporting findings ment and, consequently, project deliverables. These factors can impact any and, for that matter,Once the appropriate data collection methodology all of the traditional market research steps dis-is selected, fieldwork must be conducted. Essen- cussed previously. For example, varying culturaltially, this executes the research design developed norms across different countries or continents mayduring stage 2. The next step involves analyzing the impact research objectives, as well as pose sig-findings and providing a management report, along nificant challenges in the data collection phase of
  6. 6. 118 R.B. Young, R.G. Javalgithe project. Similarly, language barriers have a market, where the customer group is large andconsiderable impact on data collection and, ulti- profitable, have the advantage over companiesmately, incorporating the new learning into the operating in markets that lack such sophistication.organization for maximum benefit. 5.1.1. Language Next, we discuss several important considera- Now that market research is being conducted aroundtions related to questionnaire construction and data the globe, researchers must take language andcollection methods that internal research managers cultural factors into account when designing ques-must consider as they design and implement global tionnaires. Language represents the most obviousresearch studies for their organizations. Failing to factor that makes international market research soadequately understand and address these issues challenging. While many middle and upper manage-puts internal researchers at odds with their top ment executives worldwide have some command ofmanagement constituencies and risks conducting the English language, that does not mean thatcostly research projects that do not add value and English must be employed in conducting allimprove the firms competitive advantage. research. To make matters even more complicated, variations within the same language may exist. For5.1. Cultural challenges example, English speakers in the U.K. and America have long complained that they are separated by aConducting market research in an international common language. Consider a scenario whichmarket requires a great deal of new learning. occurred after London-based ICI purchased Cleve-From a managerial perspective, this includes a land, Ohio-based Glidden Paint Company in the latemore comprehensive understanding of native cul- 1980s. Upon inquiring about a business request thatture. Cultural elements such as social institutions, he had submitted to his new bosses in the U.K., Johngender roles, language, religion, aesthetics, educa- S. Dumble, President of Glidden, was told that histion, and time orientation are closely intertwined request had been “tabled.” Alarmed, Dumble said:with national culture (Javalgi & White, 2002), and “Look, this is something I need. Its important, or Ihave a major impact on the acceptability and wouldnt have asked for it. You really shouldadoption of new products and services. The effect reconsider.” It was at this point that Dumble learnedof culture is multifaceted in the sense that cultural that, in England, “tabled” means put through forvalues that are important to one group of people approval, not consigned to oblivion, as in themay mean little to another. Cultural differences American vernacular (Susan Corbett, personal com-deeply affect adoption of products and services and munication, September 9th, 1999).other forms of market behavior. Clearly, culturalforces have taken on strategic importance that 5.1.2. Translationcannot be ignored when marketing new and/or The most common problem in questionnaire designexisting products and services. Social factors involves translation into other languages. A ques-embody a cultures fundamental organization, tionnaire developed in one country may be difficultincluding its groups and institutions, its system of to translate because equivalent language conceptssocial infrastructure, and the process by which do not exist, or because of differences in idiom,resources are distributed. Naturally, social struc- vernacular, and phrasing (i.e., syntax). For exam-ture affects market research decisions including the ple, the concepts of uncles and aunts are not thecost of conducting the research, reaching the target same in the U.S. as in India; there, the words formarkets, collecting the data, etc. aunt and uncle are different for the maternal and The target markets knowledge of and familiarity paternal sides of the family. And while Spanish iswith product service offerings also plays a critical spoken in both Mexico and Venezuela, researchersrole in conducting research. Market research spe- have found that the translation of the English termcialists demand certain levels of educational and “retail outlet” works in the former country, but nottechnological skills. Although a country may have a in the latter. Apparently, Venezuelans interpret thehuge population, only a small segment of that translation to refer to an electrical outlet, an outletpopulation may be equipped with the knowledge of a river into an ocean, and the passageway into anecessary to employ research tools either at work or patio (Iyer, 1997; Rydholm, 1996).at home. In a technologically sophisticated domes- In order to ensure that information is conveyed astic market, businesses have more opportunities to intended, international marketing researchersmodify existing products/services to include new often have questionnaires back translated. Backtechnological designs and features, and develop translation (Zikmund, 2000) is the process ofentirely new products/services and technologies. translating questionnaires from one language toResearch companies operating in a sophisticated another and then translating them back again by a
  7. 7. International marketing research: A global project management perspective 119second, independent translator. The back translator viewed by a man; furthermore, the idea ofis often a person whose native tongue is the discussing grooming behavior and personal carelanguage that will be used for the final question- products with a stranger (i.e., moderator) wouldnaire. This can reveal inconsistencies between the be highly offensive (Zikmund, 2000).English version of the questionnaire and thetranslation, for correction if necessary. For exam- 5.1.5. Time zonesple, in one international advertising research Time zones present difficulties in conducting anyproject, the advertising slogan “out of sight, out type of business in foreign markets, and marketof mind” was back translated as “invisible things are research is no exception. During fieldwork, marketinsane” (Nash & Zullo, 1988). researchers frequently find it necessary to commu- nicate with the facilities that have been hired to5.1.3. Syntax conduct the actual interviews. Differing time zones inAs previously mentioned, syntax is closely related other countries impact project communication and,to language. In fact, syntax specifically refers to ultimately, project timing. More days are required toword phrasing and sentence construction. For field a given research project to allow for commu-example, simply translating English questionnaires nications that may need to occur half-way around theinto German is very problematic. While the result- world. Even the time of day matters in places likeing product may look German, its not really very Japan, where business-to-business interviewing isGerman. The same is true of the reverse process very difficult to conduct during business hours.(from German to English): it looks English, but isnt. Because Japanese employees are so loyal to theirThe syntax is what makes the difference. employers, they hesitate to devote time to anything5.1.4. Cultural norms other than their immediate work efforts while in theFollowing language, the most significant variable in office. As well, employers believe they owe absolutesuccessful foreign market research is cultural norms. commitment to their employees while on the job.These norms are very influential forces, and can 5.1.6. Foreign holidaysrepresent the difference between successful pro- The United States has a list of approximately 12duct introduction and failure. Unfortunately, cul- standard holidays per year. Other countries havetural norms are usually very subtle rather than different lists, which can be much longer andblatant and obvious, which makes them hard to certainly differ from the American calendar. Holi-discern and detect. Consider the case of a U.S. days are yet another factor that can add to theketchup company that, after learning ketchup was total time frame required to complete an inter-not available in Japan, attempted to market their national research project. According to Rydholmproduct there. Rather than take the time to question (1996), prior to starting research, clients shouldwhy ketchup wasnt already available in the country always check the holiday schedule of the countryand investigate the situation through international in which they are working. Nearly every Monday ismarket research, the large, well-known U.S. man- a holiday somewhere in the world.ufacturer hurriedly shipped a large quantity of itspopular, name-brand ketchup to Japan, fearing anydelay would permit its competition to spot the 5.2. Sampling issues/sampling frameopportunity and capture the market. Had marketresearch been conducted by the U.S. company prior Consider the process of conducting marketingto product introduction, it would have revealed that research in China. China has a total population ofsoy sauce is the preferred condiment in Japan 1.2 billion, 350 million of which live in urban areas of(Zikmund, 2000). 622 cities and scores of smaller towns. Of the cities, Ignoring important cultural norms has caused only 32 have populations of at least one million, whileother problems for international marketers. For 42 have populations between 500,000 and one million,example, Chase and Sanborn met resistance when it and the remaining 548 have populations of less thantried to introduce its instant coffee into the French 500,000 (Lee & Wong, 1996). Since almost no smallmarket. In the typical French home, the consump- towns or rural areas are included in market researchtion of coffee plays a very significant role. Since the projects, what constitutes a nationally representativepreparation of real coffee is a ritual in the life of the sample of the Chinese market? Considering theFrench consumer, they will generally reject instant framework in Fig. 1, the unit of analysis in a complexcoffee because of its impromptu characteristics. single county like China varies widely betweenAdditional stumbling blocks may be numerous and national, regional, and/or local. Adding additionalvaried. For instance, in many Middle–Eastern coun- countries only makes the project more challenging fortries, women would never consent to being inter- internal market research managers to administer.
  8. 8. 120 R.B. Young, R.G. Javalgi A logical means of reaching the largest sample by paying respondents for their opinions, an inherentpossible, including individuals who dont live in bias is introduced. This is more complicated in themajor population centers, involves interview by international setting, where in some cultures incen-telephone or computer. Unfortunately, technologi- tives are required to procure participant coopera-cal capabilities are not equal across countries or tion. For example, drinking and socializing areregions. For example, in Germany, telephone pene- expected as part of the research experience intration did not reach the 80% level until the mid- Brazil. In other cultures, however, incentives of any1980s, long after that milestone had been reached in kind are regarded as insulting to the respondents.the United States. Today, less than 10% of allhouseholds in India have telephones, and telephone 5.3. Measurement issuespenetration in Brazil is less than 50% in large cities In international market research, it is critical to(Malhotra, 2004). Considering the low computer establish the equivalence of scales and measuresusage in these nations, the sample representation used to obtain data from different countries (Han,problem is even more dramatically exacerbated Lee, & Ro, 1994). One of the significant issues thatwhen using Internet-based samples. Unless and until must be dealt with early in the international marketthese nations increase their overall computer and research process is the equivalence of data (Kumar,Internet capacity, using the Internet to conduct 2000). This involves three considerations. First, itinternational market research is not going to result has to be ascertained whether the constructs beingin sound customer-based business strategies. studied are equivalent. In other words, are the same5.2.1. Native interviewers phenomena being studied in both countries? Second,To facilitate the already complicated communica- the equivalence of the measures of the conceptstion process, using native interviewers for interna- under study has to be determined. This means thattional research projects allows multi-national the phenomena are being measured consistently inclients to exert a form of quality control. More- each country. Finally, the equivalence of the sampleover, it is a matter of courtesy that the local being studied in each country or culture must berespondents should be able to speak with inter- considered. The issue here is that the samples usedviewers in their own language. Many nationalities, in each country are equivalent to each other (Kumar,such as the French, are often offended by non- 2000). These considerations involve substantialnative researchers. While advisable overall, measurement issues that are increasingly critical inrecruiting native interviewers can be problematic an international environment. The concepts ofin countries and regions where the literacy rate is reliability, defined as consistency over time, andlow, like rural China and India. validity, which is concerned with what the instru- ment is actually measuring, are important to any5.2.2. Questionnaire length market research effort, especially those that crossAs consumers worldwide become increasingly sensi- national boundaries.tive to being interviewed, participation refusal rateskeep trending upward. Of Chinas major cities, 5.4. Market research infrastructurerefusal rates are estimated at 32% in Guangzhou, Media availability, Internet penetration, quality22% in Beijing, and 10% in Shanghai. A key driver of control, and the overall market research infrastruc-refusal rates is questionnaire length. After approxi- ture significantly impact the success of internationalmately 20 minutes, most respondents become research projects. Where little or no media exists,fatigued with the process and terminate the inter- these options are no longer open to internationalview. This factor is exacerbated in international researchers. Widespread print and broadcast mediastudies, as different languages can shorten or options and extensive databases are generally alengthen the amount of time it takes to get through Western advantage. Further, Internet penetrationa questionnaire. For example, translated into Italian, remains skewed to males under age 40 with abovea 20 minute American questionnaire will last only average education and household income (Dodd,approximately 18 minutes. Translated into French, 1998). Until its usage rate increases to a point thatthe same questionnaire will take 22 minutes. The approximates a broader cross section of customers,difference in duration is attributable to the subtle the Internet cannot be considered a viable primarynuances of both languages (Lee & Wong, 1996). market research instrument. This is especially true in the international setting.5.2.3. IncentivesThe use of incentives in market research has been 5.4.1. Currency fluctuationsdebated for as long as research has been executed. Doing business around the world always involves theThe common criticism of the practice contends that risk of changes in a particular countrys currency.
  9. 9. International marketing research: A global project management perspective 121Market research firms are also impacted by these research studies. This expertise can be effectivelyfluctuations because of the numerous field services translated into a competitive advantage. As compa-that are usually hired to complete a research assign- nies continue to seek competitive advantages acrossment. To finish a given project, several countries might national boundaries, being cognizant of the varietybe involved. For example, each spring and fall, IBM of cross-cultural marketing research challenges asconducts a brand tracking study in 14 languages in 27 discussed in this paper provides an essential ingre-countries. At any time, one or more of these countries dient to the firms ultimate success. Clearly, inter-will experience unstable currency conditions, affect- national marketing research provides informationing the lead research supplier (Iyer, 1997). about foreign consumers and critical information regarding the global marketplace.5.5. Data collection challenges The purpose of our paper has been twofold. First,The process of managing vendors in the international, we provided a framework for international marketrather than in the domestic, context is much more research; second, we discussed several criticaldifficult, time consuming, and expensive. While challenges to illustrate the issues involved whentaken for granted that mall intercept methodology, companies conduct international marketing researchscanner data, and reliable postal delivery are all projects in support of their brand initiatives. Theavailable in the U.S., this assumption is not true for framework was provided within the context of themany other parts of the world. Unreliable mail service traditional four steps of the research process. Withinin developing countries makes conducting interna- this broader context, we highlighted the subtletional mail surveys problematic (Malhotra, 2004). differences between domestic and global marketingAccess issues in terms of locating the appropriate research design. While the steps of the marketperson and gaining their cooperation to participate in research process are familiar to many managers,a market research study are also heightened in the overlaying the international perspective creates ainternational context (Craig & Douglas, 2005). Addi- variety of important and unique data collectiontionally, respondent and vendor confidentiality and challenges, as we have indicated. To help internaltrust are important considerations in the global research managers design and implement morecontext (Kumar, 2000). For example, a research impactful and effective global research studies, westudy examining the functioning of a sovereign nation reviewed several factors that must be consideredor inter-company conflicts must have an assurance of prior to conducting research across foreign markets.confidentiality. These issues are more challenging in Client side market research managers designingthe global environment, where other barriers like projects to support upper management initiativeslanguage and culture play a larger role. will encounter significant difficulty unless these data collection issues are addressed. As relevant and5.6. Legal issues timely information about customers increasingly becomes the foundation of competitive advantage,Legal and privacy restrictions pose unique chal- managers will need to critically review their interna-lenges in the international research arena. European tional research programs.countries with strict privacy regulations can poten- In order to take full advantage of internationaltially shut down marketing activities that profile or growth opportunities over the long term, companiescollect personal information. Gaining access to looking to the global marketplace need researchspecific respondents can also be problematic in that identifies customer behaviors and potentialcertain countries. Furthermore, the Chinese are positioning strategies. To assure that their projectsmonitoring questionnaire construction and even the are contributing to the overall competitive advan-approval of the final data. This is in direct conflict tage of the firm, research managers must be awarewith the American approach of non-disclosure of of the nuances involved in data collection acrossproprietary client results (Meijer, 1999). cultures. As we suggested, research managers must think globally and act locally by developing research6. Guidelines for managers projects that rationalize global expansion, identify international market entry options, and provide aCompanies that already are, as well as those that basis for implementing a foreign marketing mixplan to become, global marketers must look closely strategy. The positive result of this mindset will beat the world marketplace to identify global oppor- improved information about global customer seg-tunities (Jeannet & Hennessey, 2001). Consequently, ments, leading to improved performance andin order for organizations to evaluate their numer- increased competitive advantage for the firm.ous international opportunities, they must develop Due to the complexities involved when conduct-an expertise in conducting global marketing ing market research across national borders, in
  10. 10. 122 R.B. Young, R.G. Javalgiaddition to paying close attention to the data more often utilized by their senior managementcollection and questionnaire design problems we clients.have outlined, research managers may also want tokeep the following in mind: References• Consider utilizing foreign stakeholders to help with potential cultural, legal, and/or govern- Baker, S., & Mouncey, P., 2003. The market researchers manifesto. ment restrictions on market research studies. International Journal of Market Research 45 (4), 415–433. Connell, S., 2002. Travel broadens the mind — The case for There is no substitute for trusted, on-the-ground international research. International Journal of Market contact sources to provide context on a wide Research 44 (1), 97–106. variety of country-specific factors that could Craig, C.S., & Douglas, S.P., 2005. International marketing have a negative effect on international research research (3rd Ed.). Wiley, New York. studies. Czinkota, R.C., & Ronkainen, I.A., 2002. International marketing.• Consider using a single research vendor familiar Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers. Dodd, J., 1998. Market research on the Internet — Threat or with the international marketplace. Multi-coun- opportunity? Marketing and Research Today 26 (1), 60–66. try projects are inherently difficult to manage, Douglas, S.P., & Craig, C.S., 2000. International marketing so look to a single consistent and experienced research (2nd Ed.). New York: Wiley. vendor for guidance. Han, C.M., Lee, B.-W., & Ro, K.-K., 1994. The choice of a survey• Allow more time to plan and execute an mode in country image studies. Journal of Business Research 29 (2), 151–162. international study. Projects crossing country Iyer, R., 1997. A look at the Indian market research industry. boundaries require extended design, implemen- Quirks Marketing Research Review 11 (10), 22–26. tation, and follow-up efforts. Javalgi, R., & White, D.S., 2002. Strategic challenges for the• Conduct research studies in markets similar to marketing of services internationally. International Marketing the home country prior to conducting research Review 19 (6), 563–581. Jeannet, J.-P., & Hennessey, H.D., 2001. Global marketing in new and unfamiliar parts of the developing strategies (5th Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. world. Newcomers to the international market Kumar, V., 2000. International marketing research. Upper Saddle research arena should take small steps in River, NJ: Prentice Hall. familiar markets to provide a solid foundation Lee, B., & Wong, A. (1996). An introduction to marketing prior to expanding into new, unfamiliar markets. research in China. Quirks Marketing Research Review, 10• Supplement custom market research insights (10), 18–19, 37–38. Malhotra, N.K., 2004. Marketing research, an applied orientation with as much secondary information about (4th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. foreign markets as available. Because the data Marketing News, 2005. 2004 marketing fact book. Chicago: collection issues in global market research are American Marketing Association. so challenging, utilize any and all relevant Meijer, W., 1999. Marketing research in Asia: Its the economy, secondary information sources to improve stupid. Quirks Marketing Research Review 13 (10), 26–31. Nash, B., & Zullo, A., 1988. The misfortune 500. New York: Simon insights gained from custom studies conducted and Schuster. in foreign markets. Reichheld, F.F., 1996. The loyalty effect. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Internal market research managers who are Rugman, A.M., 2001. The myth of global strategy. Internationalaware of the unique context of international Marketing Review 18 (6), 583– research will be better suited to design Rydholm, J. (1996). Leaping the barriers of time and distance.and implement projects that contribute to their Quirks Marketing Research Review, 10(10), 10–11, 42–45. Yaprak, A., 2002. Globalization: Strategies to build a great globalfirms competitive advantage in the marketplace. firm in the new economy. Thunderbird International BusinessAdditionally, paying close attention to the chal- Review 44 (2), 297–302.lenges we have discussed will result in market Zikmund, W., 2000. Exploring marketing research (6th Ed.).research studies that are both more impactful and Dryden Press: Orlando, FL.