What are the key international research questions?

Esomar book booth2

In 2013, ESOMAR published Answers to Contemporary Market Research Questions. A book which seeks to answer the questions that somebody new to a topic would often like to ask, but may be too embarrassed to ask. The book can be purchased from the ESOMAR website here.

In 2014, new chapters are being added to the book, and one of the new chapters will be international market research. At this stage we are identifying the ten (approximately ten) questions that the chapter should answer. Below are our initial thoughts.

  1. What is meant by international research?
  2. Can the same questionnaire be used in every country?
  3. Can I use the same data collection method in every country?
  4. Can I use English in every country if there are ‘enough’ English speakers?
  5. How is multi-country research commissioned and organised?
  6. How is international qualitative research conducted?
  7. Does market research cost the same in each country?
  8. What are the differences in laws and ethics around the world?
  9. What are the key challenges in analysing international data?
  10. ?

We would welcome your suggestions, for changes, additions, or deletions?

We are also consulting on questions for a chapter on mobile market research, you can see the current suggestions here.

5 thoughts on “What are the key international research questions?

  1. “does getting the same answer from different countries mean they think the same?”
    “does getting a different answer from different countries mean they feel differently?”

    “what is more important – that your questions are translated accurately or that they read well?

  2. What is the best approach to translation?

    This should not just cover questionnaire/discussion guide translation and back translation, but also how to handle open ends in quant studies as well as dealing with international qual.

    It also needs to make sure that it covers project planning (probably under Q5) – those who have never undertaken international research often forget to take into account the extra time needed for translation and other aspects of the logistics required in different methodologies.

    Another key point, not sure where it belongs (but probably a due diligence section in Q5), is making sure that the local suppliers actually understand the topic being researched, and are not over stating their capabilities; this can be a big problem in some types of international B2B research and in some countries where market research practitioners tend to be generalists rather than specialists.

  3. Hi Ray. This excerpt from a “work in progress” offers some ideas for chapters and issues:

    Risks and limitations of research techniques multiply exponentially when a study includes several countries with different profiles and cultures. Small lapses in adapting to each country can produce chaotic results … as much as not adapting them. Communication with local partners must be extremely well considered.
    These Twitter-sized examples, #93-101, are from a chapter about International Research, with a long checklist of “HOW TO AVOID (other people’s) ERRORS, WHEN PERFORMING OR USING MARKETING RESEARCH”. It’s continuous work in progress. These errors occur in Project Startup.. As we say in Brazil, “Bom proveito!”
    93. TIFG: Take It for Granted… Assume your briefing and summary job specification are clear everywhere.
    94. Fill briefing with jargon, acronyms and abbreviations, unique to your firm, incomprehensible elsewhere.
    95. Choose a provider to study countries outside its knowledge base, for low price or One-Stop convenience.
    96. Assume a new partner, nodding in apparent agreement, really agrees and will follow your guidelines exactly.
    97. Apply “usual” payment terms, 30-60-90 days, in developing countries with stratospheric financing costs.
    98. Export results from one country to another with different characteristics, to save research budget. …or…
    99. For economy, study only one inexpensive research market with devalued currency to represent all of LatAm.
    100. Export “filters” (sample profile) easy in your country but difficult out there. Ex: “Teachers earning US$60K+”
    101. Try to deploy a single attitudinal metric, understood differently in each country.

    Alan Grabowsky / ABACO Research Brazil

  4. Hi Ray,
    I think a key question is comparability of scales across cultures – particularly that respondents in emerging markets tend to score high – but also that there are plenty of differences between developed markets.

    So the question should be ‘what is the effect of culture on the use of scales’ – however the answer is unlikely to be short! (but could include some links to good papers.on the subject?).

    Let me know if I can help. We have recently undertaken a literature review.

  5. Interesting chapter. Here are some suggestion for some international research questions:

    1. Design
    ~. Do we need to collect exact numbers of sample and sample proportion per countries?
    ~. Can we include some local questions? How far is the customization in questionnaire is allowed?
    ~. How many cities needed to be included in one country to be seen as representative for the country?

    2. Data Collection
    ~. Can we commisioned multicountries study from different research agencies? What is the criterion of good research agencies when conducting multicountries research study?
    ~. Can we do data collection in slightly 1-2 weeks disrepancies? How if one country fail to run the study due to some political issue/catastrophy, should we ignore the country or can we do the data collection catch-up? Would it be valid?
    ~. If using different methodologies, and the questions need to be amends, what are the limit?

    3. Analysis & Reporting
    ~. How to ensure that the local wisdom have been incorporated into the analysis?
    ~. When is the best case to see the results per country and when is the best case to see the results as “global trends”?

    Hope this can helps!

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