When conducting research, proper planning and structure are prerequisites to relevant, actionable findings. This is particularly important when conducting global research that spans several countries. Below are some tips that can help assure you avoid pitfalls when designing and executing international research projects.
Scheduling & Planning: Due to time zone differences there will be a need to work unusual hours when scheduling conference calls for kick off meetings, project briefing/debriefing, etc.
Project Timeline: When creating a project timeline and before committing to project deliverables carefully consider time zone implications such as potential shipping delays due to customs.
Local Holidays: Check for upcoming holidays celebrated in the countries where you are conducting your research as this may impact your project timeline. Also, if you are conducting research in store, verify retail hours (and days) and high traffic hours.
Respondent Incentives: While it is customary to offer respondents an incentive for their participation in a survey, the nature and amount of an appropriate incentive may vary from country to country. Be aware that in some cultures an incentive may be regarded as insulting.
Translation/Back Translation: Always use an expert translation service where the translator is a native speaker of not only the language in general but of the specific dialect in particular. It is imperative to back translate to ensure that the translation is accurate. Keep in mind that sometimes a word-for-word translation is not possible due to differences in grammar and culture. This affects all aspects of a research project – from questionnaire design to accurate communication of a marketing message/idea.
Images and Graphics: Be sensitive to how graphics / imagery may translate. For example, different cultures have different norms that may or may not be appropriate for lifestyle imagery, colors may have different meanings/connotations, etc.
Consumer Segments: Be careful defining consumer segments as this may vary country to country. For example, the families with kids (FWK) consumer segment may be defined differently as adult children may stay at home much longer in some cultures/countries than in others.
Follow these tips along with the basic rules of research design and analysis to help assure that your project runs smoothly.