Archive for the ‘International Market Research’ Category
In March/April 2012, Asia Research (the industry journal for the market research industry in Asia) conducted its fifth annual survey of corporations in Asia who undertake market research through external firms. 108 interviews were conducted with individual research buyers in various corporations across Singapore, with some of the key findings summarized below:
On average, 7.1 projects (mean figure) are commissioned each year, a figure which has not changed much in the last year. Most companies (41%) commission between 2 and 4 projects.
Referrals was the most popular way of finding out about new market research agencies, with ‘consulting colleagues within their company’ (79%) and ‘consulting personal contacts in the research industry’ (77%) by far the most widespread methods employed. Attending networking conferences and seminars (51%), formal reviews of agencies (49%), receiving sales calls (46%) and Internet searches (45%) were the next most commonly used approaches.
Of the types of research suppliers used, almost 9 out of 10 research buyers (88%) turn to large multi-national agencies, the benefits of which are seen to include their networks, proprietary tools and specialism in certain sectors. Continuing staff churn, compounded by merger and acquisition activity, is, however, causing some dissatisfaction.
Notably there has been an increase this past year in the use of online panel companies (44%), and it should also be noted that DIY research is used by more than a third of research buyers. In a similar vein, while just 19% of respondents were aware of the recent launch of Google Consumer Surveys, 60% showed some interest in using this facility.
While there is a net increase in research budgets in 2012, this is much lower than research buyers had predicted they would have available to them. Furthermore, the net increase is mainly down to FMCG clients, with many other sectors reporting a net fall in budgets.
For more information on this survey, please visit the Asia Research website, http://asia-research.net/
This month, Campaign magazine published its second Going Global supplement. A number of experts in the field of branding gave us their thoughts on the issues that face those tasked with international branding. One of those experts was B2B International’s very own Paul Hague, who provided some advice for business-to-business marketers taking their promotions to a global audience:
We have all heard of communication gaffes made by regionally focused consumer companies as they attack a wider market. If Rolls-Royce had gone ahead with the branding of their Silver Mist car in Germany, it would have found it was trying to sell Silver Sh*t. Such cultural and linguistic differences are a marketer’s nightmare and they indicate the importance of using research to understand the difference between customers throughout the world.
HSBC has made an effective campaign out of the way different people see the world. In a long-running and highly recognisable series of adverts (particularly noticeable in international airports), they humorously provide examples of how people’s interpretation of the same objects can be vastly different depending on their culture, heritage, education, etc. They demonstrate, if you like, how one man’s meat can be another man’s poison.
All the while, business-to-business marketers have been sitting on the sidelines. They do not have the huge marketing budgets that are required for global campaigns. In fact, $200,000 is likely to be a respectable budget for many an industrial company or division aiming at an international market. With such meagre funds to play with, their communication efforts have been much more targeted and therefore less visible for us to examine and critique.
With an emphasis on below-the-line advertising, business-to-business marketers have focused on anything that gets them close to shaking hands with a potential customer. High on the list are exhibitions, brochures and technical sheets translated into local languages, and, if you’re lucky, a website on which you may just have one or two language options. There is very little attempt made to understand the local culture and to design a promotional campaign that meets local needs.
If marketing budgets are really so small for business-to-business marketers, it may be hard to imagine how they could afford to spend $100,000 on a market research campaign aimed at testing different communications and finding out what works over a wide geographical area. Mind you, the investment in research to establish the principles of what works pays dividends – not only on the current campaign but on all future campaigns.
I encountered a good example a couple of years ago during the concept testing of an advert. Of the seven adverts being tested, the design agency had a clear favourite – a nicely designed ad showing two futuristic-looking heads. However, in what was a huge disappointment to the agency, this particular ad bombed dramatically when tested against the six others among an international group of target customers. Existing and potential customers actually found the ad confusing and felt it portrayed the company as two-faced. Adverts that tested much better were less stylish but they featured the product, or the product plus a person.
A good test for any b2b marketer is to lay out their promotions in front of customers and prospective customers, and ask the following questions:
Market research isn’t the only measure that can be used to test the effectiveness of promotions. Additional indicators can be quite simple, such as:
In conclusion, here’s a checklist of questions that business-to-business marketers should consider when addressing global markets:
Hot on the heels of the ESOMAR Global Market Research report, the Market Research Society’s most recent survey of the profession reveals that the UK industry fared comparatively well in 2008. However, 2009 has brought its own challenges that may compromise industry growth this year.
In the face of a grim global economic outlook, total UK market research agency revenue grew by 6.2% in 2008 according to the MRS, as compared with global growth of just 4.5% (reported here). This was driven, in large part, by international growth with international revenues jumping by 12.5% compared to 2007.
In Marketing Magazine’s latest market research league table, B2B International’s performance has outstripped this industry average, with a 24% rise in year-on-year turnover seen in 2008.
In their analysis of the results, Marketing magazine point to 2009 being the year when the recession truly begins to bite for the market research industry. Curtailed client budgets, increased consolidation within the sector, rising research demands and downward cost pressure are all cited as key challenges that agencies must address if they are to truly weather the ongoing storm.
Client-side, anecdotal evidence appears to suggest that the most pressing need from research partners is data that can truly influence, rather than merely support, business decisions. At B2B International, we’d like to think that this overarching aim is central to our ethos – To deliver “market research with intelligence”.
To learn more about B2B International’s range of market research and consultancy services, please click here.
Following yesterdays post on ‘Market Research In A Recession’ is today’s post detailing the seven steps to minimize the impact of reduced market research spending. These steps from John Quelch (a professor at Harvard Business School) confirm a lot of what we have learnt in business to business markets over the last few months:
To view the latest marketing strategies of large multi-national corporates in a recession, click here.
Original article viewed at http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/
In his latest Thursday Night Insight post, Matt Powell reflects on his experiences working in our China office and the difficulties inherent in conducting business across cultural boundaries.
I recently saw a TV advert from one of the world’s major banks that professes to its excellent local knowledge in every single country. Of course, this campaign has been going for quite some time now as the bank positions itself not as a sprawling, faceless mega-corporation, but indeed as a very localised and personal bank. Whether or not the bank does in fact deliver upon its promise remains to be seen, but the importance of local knowledge cannot be underestimated.
There are many horror stories about corporations naively taking one product or brand that is successful in one country and launching it into a foreign market without first adapting the product or its branding to meet the local culture. Pepsi and Coca-Cola give two sterling examples of ‘how not to do it’.
When Pepsi launched their cola in China, the company thought it would be sufficient to translate their slogan "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" into Chinese and simply launch the product. Unfortunately, the slogan was translated a tad too literally and instead proclaimed that "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave." Of course, the problem was rectified, but damage had already been done.
Coca-Cola did something fairly similar when launching their product in China; they chose to launch their brand using Chinese characters that read phonetically as “Kekoukela”. Of course, the phonetic spelling sounded similar ‘Coca-Cola’ to a westerner, but I imagine there weren’t many Chinese consumers looking to purchase a refreshing can of “female horse stuffed with wax”. Surely, even just the smallest foray into market research would have highlighted these significant blunders, and saved the companies millions of dollars – let alone the damage done to the brands.
Indeed, in many cases, the same message or piece of information can still cross hazy lingual and cultural boundaries. I myself had an experience when on secondment in our Beijing office, where lingual barriers became slightly hazy to say the least. Each day when finishing work I would order a taxi to where I lived, pronounced ‘Hua Mao’. Every time I asked, the taxi driver would either laugh, shake his head, ask to see a map, or (in one extreme case) make a loud cat-like ‘miaow’-ing noise at me. I knew I was saying the name of the location correctly, so although slightly perplexed at the behavior of the Beijing taxi drivers, I thought nothing of it… until, that is, one day towards the end of my stay when I took a taxi with some of my Chinese colleagues. When I asked the taxi driver to me to my destination my colleagues burst into uproarious laughter – it turned out that for two months I had been saying the words correctly, but pronouncing them with the wrong tonal inflection – and, of course, was asking the taxi driver to take me to ‘cat with flowers’. At least the miaow-ing taxi driver seemed slightly less disturbing after that.
Although it is an amusing story, it does indeed highlight the importance of local knowledge and just how critical the nuances of any language and culture really are. To most westerners, what I was saying and what I should have been saying sounded fairly similar indeed, but (despite me always managing to get to my destination) the difference it made to the local person – the person who mattered – was huge.
At B2B International we, like the large bank, recognise just how important local knowledge is. Every country is different and brings with it a whole set of language issues and cultural traits. We use ‘mother-tongue’ interviewers when conducting international interviews for this very reason; the cultural nuances are critically important in understanding information and indeed any subtle inferences that may be missed by someone who is not completely immersed in that particular culture or language. Indeed, across our three offices we can span the globe from Asia, to Europe, to the Americas.
Our expertise can help our clients in many ways – from conducting multi-country studies in various languages, to conducting in-depth research and analysis in specific countries, to researching new markets to enter. For more information about how we could help your Company, contact a member of research team at our European headquarters in Manchester, our Asian headquarters in Beijing, or our American head office in New York.