Fielding global research

By Tom Dougherty

What to look for in fielding global research

Global Research. The Stakes Are High

global research companyGlobal research is a planned event. When a company makes the strategic decision to globalize one of its brands, it is forced to look anew. And, look at the brand and evaluate it with fresh eyes. It needs to make sure that the brand definition translates into the new culture in a meaningful way.

After all, there is a great deal at stake. And, the market is littered with locally robust brands. Brands that failed in their attempt to being globally important. There is no doubt that global research is necessary. it is a must when it comes to evaluating, not just market opportunity, but brand permissions.

Too often, companies spend a small fortune on research that reveals “opportunity.”

But that idea is based on successful focus groups and U&A (Usage and Attitude) studies. Only later they find that when the brand hits the ground, it hits with a deafening thud. Not with the sweet sounds of fleet-footed patting that indicates the brand has “hit the ground running.”

Why is this?

The global research indicated that the customer was looking for this sort of product. And the usage patterns also pointed to ease of acceptance that was never realized. The problem was no doubt, the research itself. (Read about Resultant Research, the highly specialized research division of Stealing Share)

Round-Up The Usual Suspects

Here is the usual failed formula for global research

global researchFirst, the brand conducts a broad U&A study of the market. Making sure that the sampling is projectable and that the survey was not leading in any way. The study sheds light on the current problem. And shows the brands that are currently in the solution set. It shows the awareness and imagery for those brands and product usage in terms of volume. Based on demographic questions, the brand managers are able to segment the market to find the best opportunity.

  1. The brand then holds a series of focus groups in the new “foreign market”. To better understand the language of the consumer and to test some packaging. And identity themes that the U&A study indicated might be strategically meaningful.
  2. If the product is a consumer product, no doubt the brand team visited the homes of potential users. And witnessed the routine “first hand” that utilizes this category of brands.
  3. The ad agency is then brought into the loop. A campaign is developed based on the learnings, and the ads are then produced. Costing thousands of dollars. A test market is chosen and the product is launched. Many times, it falls flat and a great deal of capital was wasted.

Do Global Research Different And Better

At Resultant Research (the research arm of Stealing Share), a fundamentally different process is used. Used to uncover opportunities and ensure market share growth. It is a process that is designed not only to understand the usage and attitudes of the target culture. But also to uncover the belief systems that make each culture distinct.

A Better Process For Conducting Global Research For Global Brands

global researchFirst, we believe strongly in-home or in-person visits. Watching product usage in a new environment is most enlightening. However, we utilize this process with one of our research anthropologists. Rather than the client brand management in order to witness the interactions. They do so without brand bias that those with a vested interest in the brand may have. This is ethnographic global research.

Before we go into the field for a quantitative study and after the in-home visits, we model the cultural behaviors using our Preceptive Behavioral Model.

This is this process that illuminates the probable belief motivators. The motivations that are unique to specific cultures. It also helps identify the preceptive belief systems that form the culturally distinct fabric of each market segment. It is a predictive tool used in our global research process

This modeling allows us to formulate a series of questions that are asked in the quantitative study. The modeling allows us to graphically see the relationships. The relationships between the actions (processes) that we want the target market to take. And the needs and wants (purposes) that drive those actions.

It then uncovers the cultural beliefs (precepts) that control these (processes and purposes). Such modeling eliminates many global missteps (see Globalizing a Brand Requires Different Thinking to see an example of such a costly miscalculation).

What’s next?

global researchWe then conduct a projectable quantitative study of the market. Looking at many of the same usage and attitudinal issues that are part-and-parcel of traditional U&A studies. But, expand the scope by testing the preceptive queries that came from the behavior modeling.

The information gained from testing these preceptive questions defines the core belief systems. Ideas that differentiate one culture from another. And, allows us to identify and align the brand with those cultural currents. This positions the brand for broad acceptance within the new culture and propels it to increases market share.

Focus groups are never part of the Resultant process. We believe that all research should be projectable (or it is not research). Resultant utilizes a broad sample of one-on-one surveys. So that the usage language and brand positioning can be tested and understood.  But, in a format that is scientifically projectable and useful, not simply as a “CYA” experiment.

A Better Outcome From Global Research

The end result forms the foundation of a brand strategy that is unique within the culture it is destined to influence. A brand definition and resulting brand strategy is based on the needs and wants of the potential customer and not the self-serving desires of the corporation that often dictates the strategy. Effective global marketing research is dependent, not just on the methodology used, but the questions asked.

 Culture Is Defining

Sglobal researchimply learning what a potential customer does without knowing why he/she does is a form of blindness. It is akin to discovering that a particular target market enjoys color without finding out which color they like best.

The ability to ask the right questions is dependent on the clarity of vision. Clarity needed to project the correct answers. Behavior Modeling provides such a tool and the tool is invaluable when branding products and developing marketing strategies in a new cultural environment.

We are a global brand family of companies that working in unison to develop global brand strategies and communications that propel brands to steal market share.