Conducting Global Market Research with a Dynamic Market Research Platform

Businesses that seek to offer products and services to international customers would be remiss not to conduct global market research. This form of research prepares both current businesses participating in a global market, along with prospective ones.

Understanding customers from across the world is equally highly regarded internationally, as it is in the US. 66% of global customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. As such, providing the correct experiences and fulfilling the needs of customers is no longer a secondary requirement for global consumers.

Performing market research should therefore not be limited to domestic studies, whether it is for an international e-commerce business or a content provider who seeks global research.  

This article expounds on global market research, its importance, key components, challenges and how to conduct it, along with a use case from a real Pollfish client. 

Understanding Global Market Research

Global market research stems from the same idea as traditional market research — the process of gathering information about target markets and customers in a specific industry.

Global market research refers to the organized effort of systematically collecting, recording, designing, analyzing and interpreting information pertinent to a target market on a global scale. As such, this kind of market research studies individuals outside of local and national markets, examining those in the international space instead. 

There are various market research techniques that market researchers can apply to their global market research campaigns. Existing and emerging technologies facilitate these efforts, breaking down what would have been obstacles. 

Global market research is not the complete equivalent of traditional or domestic market research. While these two forms of research are parallel in certain regards, they differ in their approach and focus on different core subject matters. 

Market research on a global scale is applicable to all business concepts, from the viability of new products to studying and increasing customer lifetime value (CLV). Therefore, conducting market research across the globe can help businesses improve in various ways and meet a wide variety of KPIs and objectives

The Importance of Global Market Research

This kind of research is invaluable on various fronts — for businesses and general research purposes alike.

Firstly, the constant advancement of technology has opened many international business opportunities for companies to expand their business by venturing abroad. This is especially the case for SaaS companies and businesses that provide services that don’t require shipping materials to foreign countries. Thus, it is far more efficient to offer global services. 

This means that businesses have target markets that far exceed those within their home country. To compete with any business in any industry, businesses must satisfy their customers and these concepts lay the foundation of the importance of global market research, because, to please customers, businesses must understand them at granular levels.

Market research provides a means of doing so, with various sources and methods to extract data on global customers. 

Secondly, marketing strategies do not pan out in the same way across localities and different segments of a target market. As such, they will certainly not be received in the same way across different countries and continents

Due to different cultural norms, languages and connotations, a company’s messaging, communications and marketing campaigns will therefore not have the same effect as they intend in different geographical markets. Global market research helps reconcile these differences across countries, by specifically focusing on cultural and geographical differences.

Additionally, information that contains the exact responses from a business’s global customers arms it with the knowledge and insights necessary for various business operations. It provides valuable information on executing changes or launches to product development, design, delivery, packaging and quality.

It also allows marketers to establish unique advertising campaigns, ones that are either made solely for a particular international market, or those that tweak existing campaigns to fit the cultural norms and sensitivities of other countries.  

Moreover, conducting this research helps businesses properly set their prices when selling to customers abroad. This way, their pricing is reasonable across countries. For example, a piece of furniture may retail for a completely different price in the US than it would in France.

Furthermore, the global digital population is on the rise, with 4.66 billion active worldwide internet users. This figure represents 59.5% of the global population. A vast majority of these users, 92%, access the internet via mobile devices. 

It would be negligent for businesses not to study this colossal population to improve all of their marketing and general business goals. They would simply need to use the correct online market research platform to examine this inflating population.

The Components of Global Market Research

Global market research has its own set of key components, some of which largely distinguish it from traditional and domestic market research. These components allow researchers to focus their survey research exclusively on the behaviors, sentiments, opinions and needs of customers abroad. 

By paying attention to these components, businesses can gain insights that improve any globally-targeted marketing campaign and even forge brand loyalty. 

The following lists several major components of global market research:

  1. The focus on a specific geography: Market research allows businesses to zero in on a specific country or continent. 
  2. Reaching customers that appear to be unreachable: This involves using market research techniques to reach international customers directly, that is, through primary research tools, such as a focus group or an online survey platform.
    1. Not all market research methods and tools offer the same global reach.
  3. An analysis of cultural differences: This covers examining all possible cultural differences, from the role of women versus men in shopping, to religious holidays, to business closings, etc. 
    1. Essentially, this allows brands to adjust their marketing and create messaging that can better relate to customers in different countries. 
  4. An analysis of economic differences: This is critical to understand when setting up a global pricing strategy. This is because all countries have different economic climates; some may be undergoing a recession, some may incur strong unemployment rates, while others may be experiencing an economic boom — at least in a particular market.
  5. Tapping Into global markets via their native language: Not all members of a global target market speak English, which means that to study them, researchers will need to reach them in their native language.
  6. Ethnic considerations and national customs: Similar to cultural differences, studying specific national and ethnic concerns is important, as it helps businesses avoid marketing campaigns that can offend global customers’ sensibilities.  
  7. Understanding typical Incomes: The income considered low or middle-class in one country may not be so in another. Global market research helps brands understand how typical incomes are classified across global regions.
    1. Additionally, it reveals common salaries and other income information across the demographic groups of a country.
  8. Product demand: Some countries will have demand for things that barely get an afterthought in other countries. This can be for a specific product or a product feature enhancement.
    1. By conducting global market research, businesses can understand the exact needs of their global target market and innovate accordingly.
    2. This way, they can create more viable products for international sale and satisfy their customers abroad.

The Challenges of Global Market Research

Global market research is beset with its own share of challenges that make it difficult to conduct, let alone complete. However, there are survey tools that make conducting this form of research practical and easy. But first, businesses need to acclimate themselves with the challenges that may come their way should they conduct global market research.

While some techniques and methods used in domestic market research may also be applied to their global counterparts, customer preferences are not easy to determine. As such, it is difficult to compare global markets due to the greater diversity in cultural, social, and economic differences, all of which affect consumption. 

Then there is the challenge of conducting the research in the first place. Global market research is a far more ambitious project, therefore, it tends to require more hours on conducting various techniques, such as scouting for secondary research. These will differ among companies and research campaigns.  

As far as methodology goes, global research also requires more time spent on execution. Researchers would need to contend with extracting the data, designing the study either across one country abroad or multiple countries, coordinating between different countries and piecing together the resulting data. 

These are just some of the points of friction that businesses must grapple with before conducting their global studies. 

Market researchers must also be somewhat knowledgeable of the local customs and environments of their respective targeted countries to carry out the research successfully, especially when conducting primary research. This will help researchers avoid making their subjects feel uncomfortable, therefore cutting back on survey attrition. This will also help researchers structure their primary research. 

Then, there is the monetary challenge: large survey research projects are costly endeavors, some of which may incur hundreds of thousands a year. This is especially challenging for businesses that have just broken into the international market.

How to Conduct Global Market Research

Conducting global market research requires many of the prerequisites of domestic market research. A business will have to compile secondary and primary resources to perform an exhaustive study. 

There are various secondary sources that businesses can incorporate into their global research. 

Government agencies provide free access to statistics on their residents, a kind of hard data that is valuable for preliminary studies. These statistics are useful for learning about a foreign country’s demographics, state of its economy, and commerce status. 

The International Trade Administration churns out economic reports, forecasts and infographics on various countries and industries. Their website can complement domestic market research, as it contains statistics on US national trade.  

Researchers can also attend international trade shows, workshops, and seminars in their industry — some offer this virtually. For example, The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group lists all the major international tradeshows and their respective industries. 

Each industry also has dedicated online publications that publish articles on emerging trends and news on the industry, including customer preferences, technology, products and services and other related information.

Finally, businesses need to conduct their global market research; this can be done in several ways. They can turn to survey panels, mail-in surveys, phone calls with existing customers and field research.

Online surveys are the most potent tools for global market research.

This is because an online survey platform, such as Pollfish, offers the best distribution method and allows businesses to study any segments of global customers, as it reaches 160 countries

Using random device engagement (RDE), Pollfish targets digital users in their natural environments. Thus, respondent participation is randomized and voluntary, removing the risk of survey bias, as respondents are not pre-recruited and completely anonymous. Pollfish has the power to deploy surveys to a vast network of global customers, as it distributes surveys across the most visited websites and apps, to a sampling pool of 250 million people

Additionally, Pollfish allows survey creation for 46 languages and also offers a Translate Survey feature. This way, businesses can seamlessly reach non-English speaking customers across the world.

Researchers can meet all of their quotas with the Pollfish online survey platform, with the option of adding quotas in the screener, along with multiple audiences per survey. This way, they can target various segments of their global target market. The platform also offers a survey completion time, so that researchers have a reasonable estimate of the time it takes to draw all the preset survey responses.

Global Market Research Use Case with a Pollfish Client

Kalsec, a food manufacturer that produces space and herb extracts, colors and food protection for the food and beverage industry, has used the Pollfish platform to run a global market research campaign

Thus, the company deployed surveys in various global markets: those in the North American, European and Asian regions, specifically in Canada, the UK, France, China and Thailand. Given that to understand the needs of global customers, businesses must conduct studies on various global regions on a country-to-country basis

This is exactly what Kalsec did, arming the business with critical insights they would need to pay extra for, had they used another online survey provider. 

Specifically, Kalsec studied consumer behavior and purchase decision-making to get a sense of its global customers’ purchasing behavior about its brand. The surveys that Kalsec ran centered on the snacking behaviors of residents in the five aforementioned countries. 

The company sought insight on what drives customers from making their snack purchases and their Pollfish-powered global market research allowed them to compare customer behavior across various countries and better tailor their shopping campaigns. 

Essentially, Pollfish technology broke down geographic and communication barriers across these global markets, granting speedy insights that the company wouldn’t obtain from secondary research alone. 

Making Continuous Improvements in the Global Arena

Businesses that seek to offer their services to global customers ought to make use of global market research. The same goes for businesses with an established global presence, given that understanding customers is at the core of maintaining business success.

To conduct global market research, businesses need to use a robust online survey platform, such as Pollfish.  A strong online survey tool will enable businesses to set granular demographic requirements for global customers, ask a wide style of questions (multiple-selection, single selection, ratings, etc), add advanced skip logic, add media files and use multiple audiences per survey. 

Pollfish is built for global market research, as it offers 24-hour support, so that regardless of which time zone a client is in, they can easily reach the customer support team should they require assistance. Pollfish users do not have to pay more to gain access to global customers and send global surveys, a major advantage over the many other platforms. 

A DIY survey platform, Pollfish allows businesses to make global market research an attainable goal.