International Market Research: How to Survey Markets Around the World
Considering expanding into an overseas market? If so, you will need to do international market research, and this involves many different methods.
A customer’s response to your marketing research can make the difference between success and failure. This is particularly true when your product launches overseas.
When you enter a market with different cultures, customs, languages, laws, and infrastructure, all the different challenges and barriers to market entry become complicated, which you are used to dealing with in your home market. . Without doing rigorous research beforehand, you run the risk of being poorly prepared for an already challenging process.
8 of the Most Effective Methods in International Market Research
Now, let’s explore some of the most effective methods available to market researchers when starting out in a new, overseas market.
1. Overseas business Research
Research done by other businesses can be an extremely useful starting point for your market research. This data may, or may not, be collected by businesses in your location. It may have been collected by businesses based in your target market or another location.
Business research is valuable because it is an example of another organization that has done some of its work for you. You can learn a lot about business trends, cultural differences, markets, laws, and more from researching other companies.
However, it is always a starting point. No business in the world will have the same set of questions, challenges, and needs as you, and no one will have the same products and audience for it. For effective market research, you must hire a good market research company.
2. Collecting Foreign Government Information
Governments collect vast amounts of information about their populations and trade within their borders. This includes demographics, geography and culture, which can be extremely useful when planning your marketing and choosing your product to sell.
In addition, government data can provide valuable insights on the legal challenges you may face when entering a new market, and the various regulations you will need to follow to market and launch your product. Most of this information is readily available on government websites.
3. Collecting Information from NGOs
Non-governmental organizations such as charities can be excellent sources of data because of their work in research. NGOs can provide more accurate and up-to-date data than governments in developing regions of the world, which may lack the infrastructure to properly collect information.
4. Face-to-Face Research
One-on-one interviews and focus groups can both be highly effective market research methods. In addition to many other things, they can tell you what your customers think, what they want, what their fears are, what their pain points are, or how they feel about your competitors.
However, researching the international market face to face comes with a unique set of challenges. Logistics are high in demand – you’ll need to locate and hire locations and work with interviewers on the ground, which can be tougher than back home. You also must consider linguistic differences, which may mean hiring interpreters or staff locally.
Cultural differences are another challenge. In the Middle East, for instance, some cultures regard interviews with suspicion and it may be difficult to assemble a representative sample.
5. Text Messaging (SMS) Survey
Text messaging surveys involve sending a series of questions via SMS to a group of respondents. It’s fast, easy, cheap and lets you reach many people. You won’t get detailed feedback from a survey like this, and it misses out on specifics, but it’s potentially a good way to get lots of feedback with minimal effort.
The drawbacks are that it relies on mobile access. This is lacking in many countries around the world – for example, mobile phone penetration in Laos is just 53.4%. This makes it difficult to distribute your surveys to many people.
6. Online Survey
There are many different types of online surveys available to you when conducting international market research. Email, social media, and web forums are some examples of places where you can connect with respondents and distribute surveys and questionnaires.
Online surveys are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to collect information and can be done from anywhere in the world, without the need to hire additional staff or deal with logistics in your target market. You’ll get responses fast, and it’s easy to translate surveys into multiple languages, too.
However, it also includes some challenges. Anything connected to the Internet is dependent on the accessibility of the Internet to your target market, which in some parts of the world may be minimal. This method works well in regions such as North America and Europe but is poorly suited for countries such as Eritrea, where only 14% of the population uses the Internet.
7. Mobile Web Surveys
This method involves distributing surveys through smartphones, through applications or some of the other online methods mentioned above. In many countries, smartphone ownership exceeds computer ownership, making it a legitimate alternative.
However, in other countries very few people have smartphones. Pakistan is an example of this – smartphone penetration here is just 18.4%. However, if your target market has a high smartphone penetration, it can be a very reliable research channel.
8. Remote Face-to-Face
In recent years, we have all seen an explosion in the use of video chat software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Today, it is regularly used to communicate with friends and family, attend work meetings, and even see your doctor. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend and forced us to rely on remote communication for almost all our social interactions.
This technique is applicable to market research and is ideally suited for researching foreign markets. Now, face-to-face interviews and focus groups can happen completely digitally, eliminating the need to send team members overseas or hire people in your target market.
Of course, there are still limits – it depends on your audience having access to electronic devices which can lead to disproportionate results (for example, you only interview younger and more affluent people). It should be combined with other methods for best results.
Market research is a necessary but often challenging process, and it becomes difficult when you try to do it away from home in an entirely new market. Fortunately, market researchers today have access to many methods and tools, many of which did not even exist in the recent past.
Contact us to learn how Philomath Research can help you conduct international market research as effectively as possible, allowing you to enter a confident and informed market.