As with any piece of research, the core aim of an international project is to address the client’s business question and provide actionable insight and global clarity.
However, the multi-country dimension throws up a series of challenges that make you almost nostalgic for that project in Dunstable last year!
Your immediate challenges, before you even get into field are of national differences in culture, attitude and background, local clients battling for supremacy over global colleagues; when we are talking about “subjective” qual rather than “objective” quant these differences only escalate. Hence the need for global clarity.
Fortunately, our vast experience shows that there is a solution:
A recent study involved work in Australia, India and the UK, which although all fully-fledged cricketing nations, can be seen as rather different markets. Then along comes a client with the global desire to rationalise their packaging, producing a consistent approach in all three markets
1. The starting point is to understand the critical business question, what is pushing the research and what decisions will be taken as a result of the research. Understanding this naturally provides the bedrock of any good piece of research
2. Once you are clear on the global agenda, it’s essential that each local team is allowed to add the local flavour. These discussions need to be full and frank in order to understand what the local agenda is and how this may impact on the research process
3.We have found that in qual even more so than quant, the real trick is to work with partners who can provide local knowledge and explore those nuances, but as a central coordinator it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. We have a selection of partners within The Research Alliance that we know and trust, which provides us with the reassurance that we seek.
4. No matter how good a partner you have, it is important to do your homework so that you have a basisc understanding of each market’s context; talk to the local client, as your partners questions, google search as. You want to know if Brand Y has recently changed in Country B because it’s going to impact on your findings.
5. Although an additional cost, in-market attendance is also something that is worth its weight in gold. This not only provides a central agency perspective, but also ensures that a global perspective is at the heart of the analysis process.
6. When it comes to that analysis, the work in the early stages comes into its own, and allows the agency to develop a clear and compelling argument which addresses the needs of the research and the concerns of the individual markets
7. Final output though needs to set its frame of reference very clearly and very explicitly. It is important to state that you are delivering a global debrief, which calls upon local insight and expands upon it in order to address the central business questions:
a. Acknowledge local differences
b. Build a global story
From an agency perspective, you will never overcome differences within your client organisation, but just as you would with differences between different team members of domestic clients, you adopt a rigorous and robust argument and stick with it. Hence global clarity.
By following these simple steps, you will minimise the traumas of international qual and enjoy the rich insight, fascinating diversity and strategic importance that usually comes with this type of work.