Information is a key ingredient in the development of a successful marketing strategy, as familiarity with customers, competitors and market environment is critical to operating profitably.
Let’s not forget that the primary goal of global marketing is to make and sell what international buyers want, rather than simply selling whatever can be most easily made. This is why customers must be assessed through marketing research and by establishing a decision support system so that the requirements of the customers can be fulfilled. This is where market research makes itself essential.
We can define market research as follows:
Market research is the gathering, analysing and presenting of information related to a well-defined problem.
Market research should not be considered, some kind of academic, theoretical endeavour, on the contrary now managers and researchers share a strong overlap when it comes to delivering data-driven decisions.
There is a wealth of information that would be necessary to undertake all the necessary decisions foreseen by a market growth strategy, but we need to practical about information-gathering in order to be successful.
As we approach market research there are two goals that need to be accomplished, on the one end, we need to identify the type of information that is both interesting and relevant to our decision, but also decide how we are going to acquire the data. This latter problem is why we will approach research by making a distinction between primary and secondary research.
Both these types of data are useful to understanding how we can approach decision-making and in this post we are going to discuss them both in detail. Also, we’re going to explore alternative approaches to data collection and processing.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the following topics:
When approaching research, we can see that secondary data has obvious advantages, such as the fact that:
At the same time the data we collect has a variety of issues:
To the marketer, other internal types of data sources may be available by looking at internal data from competitor firms, which can be collected from a firm’s financial statements.
However we should remember that in reality, the purpose of secondary data is not necessarily to come up with a final clear, sharp analysis, as much as with having a useful estimate of foreign market potential, so it’s not worth a company’s time trying to extrapolate the highest detail of accuracy as much as developing a grounded opinion. This is why aside from using and adapting other studies and research it is possible to use other methodologies. Here follows a list of the most commonly used ones:
When we talk about primary research, we’re talking about research methodologies, or strategies to collect the data we look for from our market. In order to talk about research let’s start with clarifying two distinct options when it comes to conducting research.
There are two types of research.
There are several challenges with primary data too, as in order to collect primary data we need to first design the type of research we wish to carry out.
Also, we need to consider that we need to identify the right contact methodology to extract the information.
The latter is usually preferred because non-probability sampling if executed correctly can still produce samples of the population that are reasonably representative.
In terms of the sample size, the larger the sample the smaller sampling error, however the larger the sample, the more expensive to run the research. Usually, the sample size is not chosen according to mathematical rule as much as in terms of budget. So when it comes to deciding ‘how many is enough’ there are some factors to consider:
When choosing methodologies that involve asking questions to participants, like in the case of surveys or interviews there are some additional cautions that need to be taken into account, which relate to the wording of the questions.
Here it’s important to take into account that in reality the language and culture plays a fundamental role in the process of collecting information. This is why in many cases before conducting field research pre-testing is foreseen.
Finally, data is collected and checked for correctness and then analysed and interpreted. Interpretation of international marketing research is very challenging because it is affected by the same cultural issues and limitations which inspired the research in the first place. This is why interpretation must be objective and monitored if possible by trained local personnel. Hopefully, the results of the research will be reliable and valid.
Here are some alternative approaches to conducting business research:
As we’ve discussed there are several ways in which a company can acquire the necessary information to develop a well-structured and informed expansion strategy. Starting from data which can be more easily accessible, like secondary data, a firm can collect more country-specific information that can be used to gain ad additional edge against the competition.
Collecting market data can be a very resource intensive process, but it’s nonetheless a necessary one, as a firm need to be able to manage risks through market knowledge.
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