Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

International Market Research: Translation Is the First Step

International online testing of product concepts and brand perception requires multilingual surveys. Best practices in international market research show that your prep work needs to go beyond translation.

The survey template will need to allow for different languages. The number of words in the survey will increase when you translate it into languages like Spanish or German. Leave extra space in the design of the template, or consider using a slightly smaller font.

Brand names can differ from one market to another so make sure your questionnaire is correct for each country.

Are there any weights and measures in the survey? Double check that they are correct for the markets where the study will take place.

Use local units of currency. The use of commas and decimals in numbers can be different than in the U. S.: ,000.00 would be written as .000,00 in some countries.

Some of your graphics and icons may be unfamiliar to some respondents. Look for images that are more commonly used in that region. Icons as simple as exit signs are not the same in every country.

The online survey is only one part of the translation project. Any point of contact with the participants needs to be in their languages including:

Invitation emails
Introductory text
Captions on buttons (Back, Next, etc.)
Any validation or error messages
Messages thanking respondents for their participation

If you are inviting people to participate by email, remember that greeting strangers by their first name is considered rude in some markets. Using titles and last names to address respondents can increase the number of respondents.

Participants in some markets will not provide the personal information (age, income, level of education, etc.) commonly requested in market research surveys in the U. S. Reduce the number of personal questions to increase response levels.

Complexities in International Marketing Research ? Can You Expand Worldwide?

The many complexities in international marketing research can be overwhelming. Are you trying to market to the world? Are you having trouble finding information about the markets you want to expand to? The information is out there waiting for you to find it. If you have a good understanding of the internet, you can find out all you want about your new opportunity. Of the dozens of ways to research, 3 top areas to look at are here.

1) Google- Have you tried to search the internet?  Google is the largest of the search engines and is a great place to start looking. The ability to search the entire web in one place is a huge time saver. Google offers text, pictures, maps, even videos on all many of subjects. Start here to get a really good handle on the market.

2) Articles- This is a good place to look for more specific information. The article sites will group them by subject and many of them are searchable. The added bonus is that the authors of these articles have done their own research and have added that to their articles. The complexities in international marketing research have been conquered for you. Take the time to browse articles by expert authors and you will find a lot of concise information on your market. Golden Nugget of the day: Be sure that you can verify the information in these with other sources.

3) Blogs- Authors in certain industries may have a blog. This is a concentrated website that discusses many factors of their market. There are a lot of ways these can be helpful in your research. Find a few blogs on your industry and see what your competition has to say. The other is that the readers will have the opportunity to comment on the postings. That offers you an insight into the needs of the customers. This is very valuable to someone who is trying to break into a new market.

The complexities in international marketing research can be simplified if you know where to look. You will need good, solid research data to be sure you have the whole story.  These are just a few of the really great research tricks that are out there. If you really want to market world wide, you will need an education. Find a good marketing and mentoring program and learn the rest.

International Marketing Research plays a vital role in global business expansion plans & strategy

Business expansion across global limits, it becomes inevitable to study global markets in greater details and specifics. As each one of us knows it is through international market research findings and analysis crucial decisions take shape.

Most Business firms rely on International market research on for the following reasons :

1.Get valuable insights with regards to new market developments abroad especially in developing economies

2.Provide useful information with regards to diverse market environments and conditions

3.Take maximum advantage of technological advancements in collecting, retrieving and analyzing market findings and offer highly accurate and relevant results.

International Marketing Research is carried across all verticals ranging from social sectors, healthcare sector, financial markets, IT sector, business to business markets and many more.

With the active presence of International marketing research agencies, the availability of required market research reports can be done in a desired manner. Considering the various manners in which research is conducted, the client company could go for –

Telephone research
Focus group
Online studies
One to one face interviews

In International Market Research the areas of conducting research activities could be in reference to

Customer satisfaction
Image and awareness tracking
Brand Positioning
Product Development
Market Development
Strategy Development
Employee Satisfaction
Usage and Attitude

Most research agencies have known to conduct research on verticals such as mobile phones, software, professional AV, consumer electronic and domestic appliances, food products, coffee, alcohol, ICT, engineering, utilities, boats, telecoms services, IT consultancy, security, radar, waste disposal to name a few prominent ones. These research reports include economies and markets across East, Western Europe, America – both North & South and even Asia.

Healthcare Market Research is widely conducted across the globe by many market research agencies. Healthcare Market research includes study and research on

Medical Equipment
Medical Consumables
Healthcare Associations
Alternative Therapies

Companies who go for healthcare research reports wish to ascertain the performance of competing brands, user experience of existing procedures and treatments, feedback from medical professionals’ i.e doctors, consultants and nurses. Healthcare research reports could be related to developed countries or developing countries. In case of companies wishing to expand to wider horizons, more and more reports relating to developing countries are asked for.

The core areas of healthcare market research include Gynaecology, Oncology, and Cardiology, Contraception, Optometry, Rheumatology, Alzheimer ‘s disease, COPD, Smoking cessation, Diabetes, Insomnia, Obesity, Wound care and HIV Based on trends and analysis revealed from these research reports, Healthcare companies are in a position to put forth new products and market them in a desired manner ensuring its successful acceptance across the markets.

In today’s world, International Marketing Research has a key role to play. In fact it accelerates the process of business expansions and guides industries to take the path forward and bask in success and limelight all the way.

Why is International Market Research so Important?

Market research gives businesses essential information on customers, competitors, and market. Most businesses claim to understand the value of this research because they are using this information to sell their product to their clients.

Market research is just as important for international business. And even more so…

Your success in foreign markets will depend on your international market research. It is especially important during your business planning phase.

Reasons For International Business Planning

There are two main reasons to be very thorough when researching your international markets. During this planning phase you need to learn:

what you can hope to accomplish
what to not to do and avoid cross cultural blunders

The Difference In International Market Research

The difference between domestic and international market research is the importance of the smallest details and the differences in the smallest details can influence your success.

Different cultures respond differently to your product, your marketing, your business. This implies more than simple interest in your product. Some markets may actually use your product differently than you expect. You need to know exactly how each of your markets respond to your product, your company, your marketing.

Cross cultural communication differences will influence everything you can think of and more. If you are not intimately familiar with the cultures you are targeting plan for surprises.

Schedule More Time For International Business Planning

This is why it is essential to have a strong international market research strategy. Here is what to do:

Schedule more time researching prior to any launch.
Continue with your international market research.
Diversify your research channels.
Use web marketing to stimulate international market feedback.
Question everything possible.
… And be methodical.

Market Research For Online Businesses

International web marketing allows you to jump into sales faster than ever before. In fact, if you have an online business you might even get non-domestic sales without doing anything in particular to sell your products abroad. But don’t make the mistake of not implementing good international business practices.

You can easily set up a new market research strategy in parallel with your current business.

Once you start getting sales inquiries internationally, start researching those new markets. This will allow you to see your potential international business opportunities.

Remember, you can’t rely on analyzing your online international sales alone. Only by researching your market can give you the whole picture.

Continuous Market Research

It’s important to actively carry out your market research continuously throughout all of your online sales and marketing efforts. This is key to developing your business internationally.

Internet can be an easy solution and an essential part of your expansion plan… only if you do sufficient international market research. Don’t simply put your order page up and sit back.

Create your website to help you in your information.
Set up a good tracking tool to measure your results.
Direct your international market research based on your measurements.
Start an international market research plan.
Add a little web marketing to get more market feedback.
Continue researching all of your markets.

You will learn how to develop your markets internationally, and what to not do. That is why market research is so important and is one of the foundations for successful international business.

Are you committed to speeding up your international sales cycles?

Learn how to combine cross-cultural marketing tools and international sales strategies for faster sales.

Join us on the International Sales Road Map.

Would you like to develop your international business?
Are you a beginner at international sales and marketing?
Read the Beginners Guide Discover Your International Business.

The breadth and scope of international marketing research along with the main additional complexities faced by the international marketing researcher

Breadth and scope of international marketing research:

A basic difference between domestic and international marketing research is the broader scope needed for foreign research. Research can be divided into three types based on information needs:

general information about the country area and or market
information necessary to forecast future marketing requirements by anticipating social, economic and consumer trends within specific markets or countries, and
Specific market information used to make product, promotion, distribution and price decisions and develop marketing plans.

In domestic operations, most emphasis is placed on the third type, gathering specific market information, because the other data are often available from secondary sources.

A country’s political stability, cultural attributes and geographical characteristics are some of the kinds of information not ordinarily gathered by domestic company marketing research departments but which are required for a sound assessment of a foreign country market. This broader scope of international marketing research entails collecting and assessing information that includes the following:


Economic: general data on growth of the economy, inflation, business cycle trends and the like, profitability analysis for the division’s products, specific industry economic studies, analysis of overseas economies and key economic indicators for the home country and foreign countries.
Sociological and political climate: a general non-economic review of conditions affecting the division’s business. In addition to the more obvious subjects such as cultural differences, it also covers ecology, safety, leisure time and their potential impact on the division’s business.
Overview of market conditions: a detailed analysis of market conditions the division faces, by market segment, including international.
Summary of the technological environment: a summary of the state-of-the-art technology as it relates to the division’s business, carefully broken down by product segments.
Competitors: a review of competitors market shares, methods of market segmentation, products and apparent strategies on an international scale.(Samuel and Craig, 1997)



The marketing research process and the international dimension


1Topic and research problem

2.Research design and plan

3.Data collection and measurement

4.Data analysis and interpretation

5.presentation of the findings and report


Source : Ghauri & Cateora(2006)

Centralized vs. Decentralized Research

Centralized research is done when the researcher conducts research in two or more countries from the headquarters. Decentralized research is done when the researcher has the company office in each country conduct the research based on the guidelines from the headquarters(Kumar,2000)

Single-country Research

This type of research is done when there arises a need for organizations to conduct research in a single foreign country market(Kumar,2000)

Multi-country Research

Multi-country research, as the name indicates, involves research conducted in

more than one country market(Kumar,2000)

What are the main additional complexities faced by the International marketing Researcher?

Complexity of research Design:

Designing research for International marketing decisionsis more complex than where a single country is concerned. The conduct of Research in different countries implies that much greater attention is required to define the relevant unit and level of analysis that is, countries versus groups of countries or regions or national markets versus global market segments as well as the scope of the research. In addition the definition of the problem needs to be assessed and whether this is similar in structure and relevant parameters for example, whether products are the same across countries.   (Samuel and Craig, 1997)

While countries are convenient and the most commonly used units of analysis due to the existence of political and Organizational boundaries, as well as because much secondary data are available on a country-by-country basis, these may not be the most appropriate units from a marketing stand point     ( Douglas and Craig 1997)

The relevant respondent may differ country to country. Example: the role of women in financial and insurance decisions or traditional male purchases, such as automobiles may vary from country to country.

*Analysis can become yet more complex where attention is focused on the examination of similar subgroups and entries across countries.


Difficulties in establishing comparability and equivalence

Considerable difficulties are likely to be encountered in establishing equivalence and comparability of research in different countries, both with secondary and primary data and with methods of data collection. For example: secondary data on motor vehicle registration may not provide equivalent data between companies.
Similarly many of the concepts, measurement instruments and procedures for primary data collection have been developed and tested in the US and Western Europe. Their relevance and applicability in other countries are far from clear. Concern with equivalence and comparability as well as accuracy may be particularly critical where secondary data are collected from the internet. (Wind and Douglas,1982)
Establishing the comparability of data administration procedures posses further difficulties. In one country certain method of data collection, for example: mail questionnaires, may be known  to have a given level of reliability, in another country, personal interview rather than mail questionnaire may have an equivalence level of reliability.



Complexity of Coordination of research and data collection across countries:

The conduct of research in the international environment adds considerably to the complexity of research design and data collection. The research instruments and data collection procedures also have to be harmonized. This can result in substantial difficulties and coordination problems. These can add considerably to research costs and also lead to considerable time delays (Samuel and Craig, 1997).


Complexity of Intra-functional character of international marketing decisions

There are some complexity are likely to be encountered in coordinating intra-functional research. For example: The accounting or finance department might want to focus on measures of profitability such as  cash flow and return on investment (ROI) while marketing and sales dept. are more concerned with market share and sales.


Complexity of Economics of International Investment & Marketing Decisions:

The lack of familiarity with foreign environments and with operations within these environments implies that much research, especially in the initial entry stages, should be viewed as an investment rather than a current expense (Samuel and Craig, 1997).


How International marketing different from Domestic Marketing? (PEST ANALYSIS)

The process of international marketing research though involves the same disciplines as domestic research, has some differences compared to its domestic version.

The major differences are

• The national differences between countries arising out of political, legal, economic, social and cultural differences and,
• The comparability of research results due to these differences.


National Differences

The main factors that affect the way in which people from different cultures behave are:

A Cultural Differences: Culture refers to widely shared norms or patterns of behaviour of a large group of people. It is defined as the values, attitudes, beliefs, artefacts and other meaningful symbols represented in the pattern of life adopted by people that help them interpret, evaluate and communicate as members of society. The need for greater cross cultural awareness is heightened in our global economies. Cross cultural differences in matters such as language, etiquette, non-verbal communication, norms and values can lead to cross cultural blunders as illustrated by the following marketing mix:

Product: A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had six-pointed stars on it. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it. Another label was printed in ten languages, one of which was in Hebrew again the Arabs did not buy it (Payne, website).

Price: An American firm was trying to get an acceptable price for their product from a Japanese buyer. The Americans presented a very detailed presentation and offered what they felt was a reasonable price. After a few moments of silence, the Americans thought the Japanese were going to reject the offer so they lowered the price. There was more silence by the Japanese. The Americans then said they would lower their price one last time and that this was the lowest they could go. The Japanese accepted this offer after a brief silence. The Japanese later said the first price was within an acceptable range, but it was their custom to consider the proposal silently before giving their decision. The Americans lost a lot of profit by jumping the gun and believing that Japanese respond just like the Americans do(InternationalBusinessCommunication,(

Place: A well known drinks company tried to introduce a two litre drinks bottle into Spain, but found it hard to enter the market – they soon discovered this was because few Spaniards had fridge doors large enough to accommodate the large size bottle (Payne, website).

Promotion: When Pepsi co advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad “Come Alive with Pepsi” they had no idea that it would be translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.”

B. Racial Differences: This would refer to the differences in physical features of people in different countries. For example, the types of hair care and cosmetic products needed in U.S would differ from those needed in South East Asia.

C. Climatic Differences: This would include the meteorological conditions like degree of rain and temperature range in the targeted foreign market. For instance, Bosch-Siemens had to alter their washing machines with a minimum spin cycle of 1,000 rpm and a maximum of 1,600 rpm in Scandinavia, owing to irregular sunshine. In Italy and Spain, on the other hand, it is sufficient to have a spin cycle of 500 rpm as there is abundant sunshine (Stevens & Davis, 1997).

D. Economic Differences: The level of economic development in a market can affect the desired properties of a product and in this way can inspire a company to adapt its products in order to meet the needs of the local market. The level of economic progress in a market can be assessed by a series of indications:


The level of revenue and buying power of local consumers:

This will have an influence on the technical conception and marketing of exported products. In richer countries where the state of economic progress is more advanced, consumers generally having a higher purchasing power and tend to prefer purchase of more sophisticated products with advanced functions, while people in poorer markets would be interested in a simplified version of the product.


The state of infrastructure in the market:

The general level of the quality of infrastructure in the country consisting of elements such as transport, energy communication systems, etc. can affect how the product is constituted as it can bring about different conditions of use. For instance when car manufacturer Suzuki entered India, it had to reinforce the suspension or the “road clearance level” of the cars as the state of the roads were poor.

E. Religious Differences: Religion has many impacts on products, more particularly on the ingredients, that constitute them. For example, in Islamic countries, companies, exporting grocery products based on beef have to furnish a certificate declaring that the animals have been slaughtered respecting “Halal” methods. Alcoholic drinks are equally banned in Middle Eastern countries. Religious restrictions can therefore require product adaptation (Kumar, 2000).

F. Historical Differences: Historical differences help explain facts such as the playing of cricket in England, as opposed to game of boules in France. These differences have slowly evolved over time but have a profound effect on consumer behaviour. For example, drinking Scotch whiskey is considered prestigious and trendy in Italy, but old-fashioned and almost boring in Scotland (Kumar, 2000).

G. Language Differences: Language is an important aspect of international marketing research. Inappropriate use of language could result in loss of market apart from turning out to be a cross cultural gaffe. For instance, U.S. and British negotiators found themselves at a standstill when the American company proposed that they “table” particular key points. In the U.S. “Tabling a motion” means to not discuss it, while the same phrase in Great Britain means to “bring it to the table for discussion” (Ricks, 1999).


H. Differences in Actual and Potential Target Groups: In countries like England and

Germany it is possible to do national samples. Small towns and villages can be included because distances are not great. In Spain, interviews can be conducted only in cities with populations of over 100,000 people, as the cost of interviewing people in small towns and villages is prohibitively high (Kumar, 2000).

In addition, the international marketing researcher may also have to deal with other factors such as differences in the way that products or services are used, differences in the criteria for assessing products or services across various markets and differences in market research facilities and capabilities.


The negative aspects of standardization

Despite the benefits of standardization, there are a number of potential drawbacks associated with a standardization strategy. As Douglas and Wind (1987) pointed out, global marketing standardization is feasible only under certain conditions. These include the existence of a global market segment, potential synergies from standardization, and availability of a communication and distribution infrastructure to deliver the firms’ offerings to target customers worldwide. One key drawback of a standardization approach is that it implies a product orientation, rather than a customer and competitor orientation (Douglas and Wind, 1987). A product orientation is myopic and pres byopic and is likely to lead to failure (Cateora, 1993; Laughlin et al., 1994). More importantly, cultural differences and competitor strategy are external factors related to standardization. Marketers must be aware of and sensitive to the diverse cultures in foreign countries to survive and prosper in international markets (Cateora, 1993; Ricks, 1983).

Personal Interviews: Tend to be the dominant mode of data collection outside the United States and Canada (Monk, 1987). Lower wage costs imply that personal procedures are cheaper than in the United States. In Latin countries, and particularly in the Middle East, interviewers are regarded with considerable suspicion. In Latin countries, where tax evasion is more prevalent, interviewers are often suspected of being tax inspectors. In the Middle East, where interviewers are invariably male, interviews with housewives often have to be conducted in the evenings when husbands are at home.

Mall Intercept Surveys are very popular in the United States and Canada, though not commonly used either in the European countries or in developing countries.

Telephone Interviews are not as advantageous in international marketing research as low levels of telephone ownership and poor communications in certain countries limit the coverage provided by telephone surveys. In countries such as India, which is predominantly rural, the telephone penetration is only 1 percent, and hence telephone surveys may not be the ideal method to adopt (Sopariwala, 1987). Even in relatively affluent societies such as Great Britain, telephone penetration is only 80 percent, and telephone interviewing is not widely used because many practitioners are still skeptical about it. In Britain and France, there are substantial declines in telephone response rates in large cities. The Eastern European countries and countries in the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States have a poor telecommunication system. In such countries, conducting telephone surveys may not be a good idea.



In the complex diverse and continually changing international environment International marketing research assume a vital role in helping management keep abreast and in touch with development in fluctuating in market throughout the world.





1)Craig CS and Douglas SP(1997) “The changing dynamic of consumer behaviour :implication for cross cultural research,” international journal of research in marketing 14,379-395.

2)Cateora, P.R. (1993), “International Marketing,” Irwin, Boston, MA.  Laughlin, J.L., Norvell, D.W. and Andrus, D.M. (1994), “Marketing presbyopia”, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 1-10.

3)Douglas, S.P. and Wind, Y. (1987), “The myth of globalization”, Colombia Journal of World Business, Winter, pp. 19-29.

4).Ghauri and Cateora(2006),”International Marketing research”, Edition 2nd McGraw-Hill.

5). Monk.M (1997)”. Marketing research in Canada. European Research,” (November), 271-274.

6). Kumar, V. (2000), “International marketing research.” Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

7) Stevens, & Davis. (1997). Battle of the brands. Appliance, (February), B21
Visionary marketing, Lost in translation. Retrieved October 20, 2005, from

8). Sopariwala. (1987). India: Election polling in the world’s largest democracy. European  Research (August), 174-177

9) Ricks, A. (1999).” Blunders in international business”, 3rd Ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing