Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute
Beverly Hills Lingual Insitute

Blog   |   Language, Learning and Culture

Classes in More than 25 Languages return to blog index

The Challenges of International Marketing Research

Most companies obsessively generate statistics about their products and those of their competitors. Sometimes, however, market intelligence derived from publicly available information is not enough. Those who desire a deeper understanding of their market potential and share - those out to predict purchase behavior and customer satisfaction - practice what the Japanese call genchi genbutsu: "going to the source."

If you want to know what consumers think, ask them.

It sounds simple enough. There are, however, at least three ways of going about this.

There's observational research, like the Fisher-Price Play Lab where designers watch children play with new toys. There's experimental research, wherein McDonald's introduces a new sandwich at one price in one city, and at another price in another city. And there's survey research, in which customers and potential customers are asked questions about their knowledge, attitudes, preferences, and buying behavior.

When marketing research goes international, the problems multiply quickly. Whereas domestic researchers deal with fairly homogenous markets within a single country, international researchers can be faced with summing up attitudes across different countries, in markets of wildly differing levels of economic development, cultures, customs, and buying patterns.

Language is the most obvious obstacle. For example, questionnaires must be prepared in one language and then translated into the languages of each country researched. Responses then must be translated back into the original language for analysis and interpretation. This adds to research costs and increases the risks of error.

Translating a questionnaire from one language to another is anything but easy. Many idioms, phrases, and statements mean different things in different cultures. Marketing professors Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong cite the example of a Danish executive who advised, "Have a different translator put back into English, what you've translated from English.

"You'll get the shock of your life.
"I remember (an example in which) 'out of sight, out of mind' became 'invisible things are insane'" (Principles of Marketing, Philip Kotler & Gary Armstrong, Pearson Education, 2006).

Even people who are accustomed to market research and understand its benefits may be averse to freely providing information. This reticence is even more common in countries where market research is not common. Cultural attitudes can also play a role in this. Write Kotler and Armstrong, "In many Latin American countries, people may feel embarrassed to talk with researchers about their choices of shampoo, deodorant, or other personal-care products.

"Similarly, in most Muslim countries, mixed-gender focus groups are taboo, as is videotaping female-only focus groups."

Of course, the usual problems with accuracy, present in domestic marketing research, also apply internationally. People more interested in a subject are more inclined to respond (self-selection bias). In an attempt to appear more knowledgeable, educated, or wealthy than they are, they may falsify their answers, consciously or unconsciously, and even in an attempt to please the interviewer. Kotler and Armstrong recount a study of tea consumption in India in which, to seem well off, more than seventy percent of middle-income respondents claimed that they used one of several national brands. However, the researchers had good reason to doubt these results – more than sixty percent of the tea sold in India is unbranded generic tea.

The irony is that, in many foreign markets, primary data is absolutely vital because of the questionable validity and comparability of secondary data. In countries where corruption is more prevalent, for example, it may be difficult to get accurate secondary data about newspaper circulation figures, magazine subscriptions, and the popularity of television programs.

The differences between cultures and thus potential marketing pitfalls mean that global companies have little choice but to engage their consumers across the globe. Although the costs and problems associated with international research may be high, the costs of not doing it – in terms of missed opportunities and mistakes – might be even higher. Once recognized, many of the problems associated with international marketing research can be overcome or avoided.

What Did Helvetica Tell You Today?

What Did Helvetica Tell You Today?

2017-09-25

Spanish Shark, Korean Coup

Spanish Shark, Korean Coup

2017-09-22

Filibustering, Gerrymandering Lame Ducks

Filibustering, Gerrymandering Lame Ducks

2017-09-21

Learning Language is Child's Play

Learning Language is Child's Play

2017-09-20

Nostalgic for a Friendlier Future

Nostalgic for a Friendlier Future

2017-09-19

Language as Jazz

Language as Jazz

2017-08-25

It's All Polish To Me

It's All Polish To Me

2017-08-24

Boas Noticias - You Know 40 Portuguese Words

Boas Noticias - You Know 40 Portuguese Words

2017-08-21

Farsi is Sugar

Farsi is Sugar

2017-08-18

76 Common Verbs for Dutch Learners

76 Common Verbs for Dutch Learners

2017-08-10

Which Are the 'Easy' and 'Hard' Languages?

Which Are the 'Easy' and 'Hard' Languages?

2017-08-09

So You Want to Learn Hindi?

So You Want to Learn Hindi?

2017-08-08

Ingrid Bergman on Language

Ingrid Bergman on Language

2017-08-07

The Origin of Lean Production

The Origin of Lean Production

2017-08-04

The Secret to Reading Japanese

The Secret to Reading Japanese

2017-08-03

Losing the War One Slide at a Time

Losing the War One Slide at a Time

2017-08-02

British car, Japanese origins, French fans, unsure Germans

British car, Japanese origins, French fans, unsure Germans

2017-08-01

Blowin' in the Wind

Blowin' in the Wind

2017-07-31

Getting Around

Getting Around

2017-07-28

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie

2017-07-27

Choosing a Language to Learn

Choosing a Language to Learn

2017-07-26

Are You a Dog or Cat Person?

Are You a Dog or Cat Person?

2017-07-25

The First Volvo

The First Volvo

2017-07-24

Improve Your Public Speaking

Improve Your Public Speaking

2017-07-21

Where Did I Come From?

Where Did I Come From?

2017-07-20

Happy Emoji Day

Happy Emoji Day

2017-07-17

Czech Out the First Robots

Czech Out the First Robots

2017-07-14

Local Tastes, Global Image

Local Tastes, Global Image

2017-07-13

Mind Your Grammar

Mind Your Grammar

2017-07-12

Lipstick is Always a Good Idea

Lipstick is Always a Good Idea

2017-07-11

Is this a BMW?

Is this a BMW?

2017-07-10

Whose Pasta is it, Anyway?

Whose Pasta is it, Anyway?

2017-07-07

Learn French - The Language of Diplomacy

Learn French - The Language of Diplomacy

2017-06-29

How Many German Words Do You Know?

How Many German Words Do You Know?

2017-06-23

East Germany's Trabant People's Car - a Reprieve

East Germany's Trabant People's Car - a Reprieve

2017-06-22

Como agua para chocolate

Como agua para chocolate

2017-06-21

Traveling Tips

Traveling Tips

2017-06-20

You Know More Spanish Than You Might Think

You Know More Spanish Than You Might Think

2017-06-19

Happy Birthday, Peugeot 405

Happy Birthday, Peugeot 405

2017-06-16

I Love Daddy

I Love Daddy

2017-06-15

You Know at least 78 Words in French

You Know at least 78 Words in French

2017-06-14

The Challenges of International Marketing Research

The Challenges of International Marketing Research

2017-06-13

Volvo wants Engineers, and they want Volvo

Volvo wants Engineers, and they want Volvo

2017-06-12

Reasons Our Students Choose Italian

Reasons Our Students Choose Italian

2017-06-09

We'll Bring the Coffee

We'll Bring the Coffee

2017-06-08

All Things French: Fashion Capital of the World

All Things French: Fashion Capital of the World

2017-06-07

Why is Having a Bilingual Brain a Benefit?

Why is Having a Bilingual Brain a Benefit?

2017-06-06

Spain's Youthful SEAT Car Brand

Spain's Youthful SEAT Car Brand

2017-06-05

A Guide to Summer Shopping in Italy

A Guide to Summer Shopping in Italy

2017-06-02

The Challenges of Learning Arabic

The Challenges of Learning Arabic

2017-06-01

Pick-ups Over Here, Hatchbacks Over There

Pick-ups Over Here, Hatchbacks Over There

2017-05-31

Tulipmania

Tulipmania

2017-05-30

Saving Hebrew

Saving Hebrew

2017-05-29

The First Modern Hatchback

The First Modern Hatchback

2017-05-26

Keeper of the Bridge

Keeper of the Bridge

2017-05-25

The Anti-Pensioner Volvo

The Anti-Pensioner Volvo

2017-05-24

Introduction to the Philippines

Introduction to the Philippines

2017-05-23

Where Women Brew the Village Beer

Where Women Brew the Village Beer

2017-05-19

Bewitchingly Flawed

Bewitchingly Flawed

2017-05-18

Just the Happy Country Songs, Please. We're Japanese

Just the Happy Country Songs, Please. We're Japanese

2017-05-17

Japan's Caprice

Japan's Caprice

2017-05-16

The First Martians

The First Martians

2017-05-15

Dolma or Tolma?

Dolma or Tolma?

2017-05-12

Jetta: Hip to be Square

Jetta: Hip to be Square

2017-05-11

Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich: Wiener Schnitzel

Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich: Wiener Schnitzel

2017-05-10

The Big-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride

The Big-Hearted Will Take Away the Bride

2017-05-09

Dutch in Paradise

Dutch in Paradise

2017-05-08

The World Envies Us for One Thing

The World Envies Us for One Thing

2017-05-05

Nyusu Flash: You Know 26 Words in Korean

Nyusu Flash: You Know 26 Words in Korean

2017-05-04

La Tour Eiffel: Ça, c'est Paris!

La Tour Eiffel: Ça, c'est Paris!

2017-05-03

When I See an Alfa Romeo go by, I Tip my Hat

When I See an Alfa Romeo go by, I Tip my Hat

2017-05-02

How Does the Bilingual Brain Work?

How Does the Bilingual Brain Work?

2015-08-19

Reasons to Learn Italian

Reasons to Learn Italian

2015-03-24

Reasons to Learn French

Reasons to Learn French

2015-02-27

3 Unbelievable Spanish-Speaking Travel Hotspots

3 Unbelievable Spanish-Speaking Travel Hotspots

2015-01-14

10 of the Weirdest International Slang Phrases

10 of the Weirdest International Slang Phrases

2014-12-17

How Bilingualism Improves Your Health

How Bilingualism Improves Your Health

2014-10-14

Why You Should Learn a Language Today

Why You Should Learn a Language Today

2014-07-16

Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

2014-07-10

Why Adults are Better Language Learners than Children

Why Adults are Better Language Learners than Children

2014-07-01

How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual - Infographic

How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual - Infographic

2014-01-15

A Proven Approach to Language Lessons

A Proven Approach to Language Lessons

2013-12-23

Top Quality Spanish Teachers

Top Quality Spanish Teachers

2013-12-23

Affordable French Lessons of the Highest Quality

Affordable French Lessons of the Highest Quality

2013-12-23

A Better Way to Learn Italian

A Better Way to Learn Italian

2013-12-23

High Quality Spanish Courses

High Quality Spanish Courses

2013-12-23

Italian School

Italian School

2013-12-23

Top Quality French Teachers

Top Quality French Teachers

2013-12-23

Finding the Best Language School

Finding the Best Language School

2013-12-23

Italian Tutors

Italian Tutors

2013-12-23

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution

2012-12-12