The New Recipe For Research Success: Global Strategy And Local Insight

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Market research is a global industry, with every business in the world needing actionable insights to truly understand their position in their industry and how consumers make decisions and interact with their brand. Market research is there to provide a helping hand, generate powerful data that helps businesses inform strategies, future-proof their organisation or boost their status in the eyes of consumers. Thus far, the market research industry has been keeping up with demand – but only just.

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With the increased demand for market research services, there are a number of challenges the industry has encountered; firstly, the rise in need for insights at the speed of business, but that doesn’t give us much time to generate the best quality insights possible for stakeholders; secondly, while technology has evolved and has been a catalyst for remarkable research technology and methodologies, insight experts must only support evolution that provides a positive impact on the industry, otherwise our resources will devolve and leave us with subpar strategies and tools that aren’t fit for purpose. Thirdly, there is an increasing number of multi-national projects that require researchers to understand the experiences, opinions and perceptions of consumers in more languages than ever – a skill that we have in short supply.

Even the technology that has powered the evolution of the industry has yet to provide a suitable answer to our challenge, with the auto-translation and auto-transcription services currently available still not providing a service up to par with a dedicated native language translator; purely because there are nuances, dialects and local turns of phrase that cannot be interpreted by anyone other than someone who lives in that country and so it is likely to be missed. So, what can insight teams do about it?

Glocalisation and Market Research

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In marketing, there is a term – Glocalisation – that might be able to help. Globalisation has been a massive conduit for “growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures and populations, brought about by cross-border trade”, and while that has been a great boon to the rapid development of many businesses and industries through the easier flow of information and insights, it was all suddenly reduced when the pandemic hit. The flow of trade and people was massively constricted to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and many businesses had to look within their country to find services and products that they would have acquired from overseas.

But even before the pandemic, there was an understanding that all markets across the world were different, so while globalisation was helping to connect countries together, there is still a vast difference between the customers in each country because of the different dominant cultures, values and tastes of each population – so this is where glocalisation comes in.

McDonald’s and Starbucks are two large brands who have nailed the glocalisation strategy, by understanding and meeting the needs of local people. Creating an overarching, centralised business strategy, marketing approach and set of core products and services that define the brand, but then this is distributed out to local teams to adapt to local markets; these teams created exclusive menus with customers experiencing differing services and strategies depending on the country they were in, as the final strategies put in place within each country were specifically consumer-led. In the case of McDonald’s and Starbucks, the secondary products and services available were uniquely tailored to the country they were in, allowing their local customers to dictate the food and drinks they wanted on offer, while also creating an air of exclusivity and customisability to their customer experience.

A similar process can be and has been successfully replicated for market research purposes. Using choice glocalisation techniques can unlock the potential of multi-national projects, by hiring local market researchers who know and understand their consumer respondents, giving them the research objectives and briefs needed to contribute actionable insights that work to achieve the overall business objectives, and then letting them design the right research experience for the consumers they recruit to get those insights.

Delegating the research responsibilities in this way means that a business is more likely to get the insights they need – accurate, relevant and directly actionable.

Implementing Multi-National Projects

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Implementing this type of multi-national research project is a challenge, especially for businesses who are expanding into new markets or who haven’t delegated research like this to the source country. Even though a business may be delegating the research to a native insight expert or team, that doesn’t mean they can’t do their own surface research to understand the country, it’s customs, it’s general consumer habits and decision-making processes, etc. before they delve deeper into their own research and target audience within the country. This is the typical first step on any glocalisation plan, and the initial understanding will then be enhanced dramatically by the insights from the research project.

This understanding of their likes, cultural values and dominant ideals and behaviours will also help when choosing a native research agency to partner with. The best insight team for the job is a local team that is already immersed in their country’s culture and will understand the nuances at play – dialects and colloquialisms in the local language, the ideologies surrounding local politics, popular habits and brands, etc. – for any insight team worth their salt will automatically take that into account while designing the most impactful and engaging research experience that entices respondents to participate.

While each team would be used to the research methods most popular in their country, this type of strategy would benefit from having a centralised research ecosystem that all insight teams across the world would have access to. An ecosystem like this, like FlexMR’s InsightHub, is capable of hosting all research approaches, managing all types of strategies due to their inherent adaptability and intuitiveness.

Platforms like InsightHub host research experiences available in many languages, and are able to be managed by the central global business team, while the local insights teams host their individual research experiences and generate insights that will all go into a central data bank. The immediate accessibility allows stakeholders to seek and understand insights as they’re generated in real-time through in-built tools like ActivateMR, and means insight teams can curate insight reports using data from all over the world to stakeholders everywhere. These insights are generated, contained and analysed all in one place, all together in any language both stakeholders and insight teams might need.

Insight Platforms such as InsightHub are built for customisable multi-national research experiences, and would be ideal to facilitate glocalisation-inspired business and research strategies. Delegating the research to local insight experts means stakeholders are more likely to get relevant, actionable insights on their target audience, simply because those native contexts that local insight teams already understand will help them produce those better insights at the speed of business rather than global teams having to do the leg work before they can get down into the nitty gritty of the research project.

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