Continental Adaptor

In a recent Thursday Night Insight post featured on The Market Research Blog, Caroline Harrison talked about how costly it can be to launch a product without first investigating the new market and without fully appreciating local cultural differences in geographies across the world.

A recent USA Today article highlighted how even the most innocuous assumptions can show that you don’t fully understand – or haven’t fully considered – your target market. This most unlikely example was actually a product review for a German car that was launched in the US market in January. Whilst much of this article is a detailed (and not altogether unflattering) technical assessment of the product, two quirky examples are brought to the reader’s attention of how this European vehicle has not quite been adapted enough to totally satisfy the needs of a United States consumer.

  1. The in-car cup holder is too small for many standard North American cups
  2. The vehicle clock displays as a 24-hour clock – popular in Western Europe, but not the normal 12-hour clock that Americans are used to.

Whilst these are, of course, very minor ‘problems’ in the scheme of things, the reviewer notes that they are a “reminder that Americans weren’t top-of-mind during development”.

If you’re entering a new market with an existing – or adapted – product, you need to be sure you have thoroughly researched your target market. DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.

If you are launching a new product in an entirely new country or continent, then market research is an absolute must.

When developing a new product, don’t just think about the bigger picture. As this automobile example demonstrates, sometimes it’s the small things that make the difference to your customers.

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