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Going Beyond the Language Barrier: How to Solve Global Market Research Challenges
Going Beyond the Language Barrier: How to Solve Global Market Research Challenges

Think back to the last time you were involved in a global market research project. What do you remember most? Was the project smooth? Were you happy with the insights generated? Did you experience any frustration? Did you feel confused as to why big themes that consistently came up in most markets did not come up in other markets? Or maybe you simply remember that gut feeling that you didn’t get the insights you needed…

Unfortunately for most marketers, the latter memories of frustration, confusion, and wasted effort are often the ones associated with global market research projects, especially when the research is being conducted in markets with strong language barriers. The typical solution to avoid disappointment is to find the best translator to ensure the guides and stimuli are perfectly interpreted, hire the best foreign moderator who knows when to probe and dig deeper, and have the most talented simultaneous translator so that nothing gets lost. But this rarely happens.

Here we outline our approach to global market research for a successful project every time: 

  1. Intimate and deep familiarization with the topic/product/therapeutic area/category that we are entering. The main issues when undertaking global market research is a lack of continuity across markets and an incomplete transfer of tacit knowledge and insights. To solve for this, in-house Strategists that already have experience with the space are assigned to the project and work with you from the very beginning until the very end.
  2. A 2-3 hour project kick-off meeting with you (in-person is best) to tap into your tacit knowledge and expertise, find out everything about your needs, challenges, desires and in-going hypotheses.
  3. Qualitative or quantitative fieldwork that combines methods from Behavioral Science & Cultural Anthropology to continue to absorb, build, probe, ladder up, and identify themes to expand our understanding. As much as possible, all fieldwork is conducted by our in-house team of Strategists who have experience in over 20 markets and speak 14 languages combined. We are not only fluent in the language, but also deeply familiar with the individual cultures, and have the ability to analyze and elevate findings into insights and connect it back to the goals of the project. We moderate and backroom all fieldwork, build trusted rapport with any hired foreign moderators (if needed), and form deep relationships with the vendors specific to that country to ensure you get exactly what you need.  We have the instinct to go off-guide when needed, and be creative and get at the deep why’s or identify insights that could ladder up to decisive strategies.
  4. Finding the insights and story in the data. By the end of a project we are experts of the topic and are able to transfer our knowledge and insights in the form of actionable strategies and tactics. Instead of going through mind numbing simultaneously translated recordings, or reading through pages of transcripts that don’t really tell a story, we pull out the relevant puzzle pieces as a result of our hands-on experience and put the whole picture together for you.
  5. Global strategy tailored to each market. While we must consider all key markets when developing the global strategy, each execution of that strategy must be carefully tailored to each market. This ensures that the tactics and communications are sensitive to the realities on the ground.

We know global market research can be long, difficult, and frustrating. But by partnering with a team who is grounded in the cultural, social, political, economic and linguistic differences across 15+ countries, you can create a successful global strategy that resonates on the ground in your various markets.

I recently had the privilege of working on a fascinating global healthcare project across 6 countries. My multilingual team spoke to physicians around the world and helped our client develop a unique global strategy for a product that has been on the market for many years. After a full day work session with global affiliates from all 6 markets, our client remarked:

“Mali, you are now an International Hematologist!” – Senior Global Marketing Manager