I love this time of year. As a real nostalgic I enjoy all these ‘best of 2011’ lists and ‘year in review’ overviews and it feels there are more every year. In the past two weeks we also have been bombarded with opinions about the developments in the market insights industry in 2011, as well as what people expect to happen in 2012 (and beyond). We’ve seen Twitter 2011 reviews, crowd sourcing activities, expert views, and so on. And I read them all. However, I do this with my favorite end of year activity playing in the background: The Top2000. This is an annual five day event that counts down the 2,000 best records ever produced - as voted by 3 million Dutch adults.
As some of you know, I really have a thing for doing research in multiple countries. I’ve been working in market research for two decades now and have always conducted international research projects — and experienced all the challenges that come with them. But I believe that conducting international research is even more challenging now than it was 20 years ago when I started my research career.
I see three key challenges that market researchers must deal with when doing multicountry projects:
1) How to collect globally comparable data. As soon as the surveyed cultures are so different that you need to adapt research methodologies and localize questionnaires, you’ve lost the chance for global comparisons. How do you walk that fine line between globalization and localization?
2) How to put this data into a local context. It’s really hard to understand the real drivers of behavior in different regions. Just looking at the results and comparing them with those of other countries might result in the wrong conclusions.
3) How to distribute and communicate these results back. Collecting information is one thing, but communicating it back to the local organizations and having them act on it is quite another. Will your local market insights teams use, share, and implement the data that you’ve collected globally?