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Zut Alors! Things to Consider When Doing Research Abroad



In today's interconnected world, the ability to reach markets around the world has fewer barriers than ever. The allure of expanding into new markets and tapping into diverse customer bases has led to a surge in multi-country market research studies. However, completing a research study outside of your own market requires careful planning and consideration. Based on Advantage Research’s experience with international and multi-national research, here are a few factors that organizations should take into account when planning to conduct market research in multiple countries:



Cultural Nuances and Sensitivities

Culture plays a significant role in shaping consumer behavior, preferences, and purchasing decisions. What works well in one country might not necessarily resonate in another. When conducting market research across multiple countries, it's vital to understand and respect the cultural nuances and sensitivities of each region. This includes language, traditions, social norms, and values. What are the cultural norms in each country around standard research practices such as scaled survey questions? How does the culture feel about being compensated for participating in a research study? Tailoring your research approach and messaging to align with local customs can make a substantial difference in the accuracy and relevance of your findings.


Local Market Knowledge

Before diving into market research, invest time in gaining a comprehensive understanding of each target market. Familiarize yourself with the local competition, regulatory landscape, economic conditions, and distribution channels. Engage with local experts, partners, or consultants who possess intimate knowledge of the market. Their insights can provide invaluable guidance in crafting a research approach that takes unique market dynamics into account.


Sampling Techniques

Sampling methods can vary greatly between countries due to differences in population size, demographics, and access to technology. Ensure your sampling strategy is representative and unbiased. Random sampling, stratified sampling, or even quota sampling may be necessary to ensure your data accurately reflects the diversity of each market.


Translation and Localization

If your research instruments are not in the local language, high-quality translation and localization are imperative. Poorly translated surveys or focus group scripts can lead to misunderstandings and unreliable results. Work with experienced translators who understand the industry jargon and cultural context. Additionally, consider adapting questions to local idioms or terminologies to ensure clarity.


Data Privacy and Ethics

Different countries and regions have distinct regulations governing data privacy and research ethics. Ensure that your research complies with local laws and guidelines, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe. Obtain proper consent from participants and be transparent about how their data will be used.


Timing and Seasonality

Timing is critical in market research. Cultural events, holidays, and seasons can significantly impact consumer behavior. Be aware of local festivals, peak shopping seasons, and holidays that might influence your research outcomes. (For example: Don’t field a survey to Europe in July if you can avoid it!)


Budget and Resources

Conducting market research in multiple countries can be resource-intensive. Factor in costs and extra time associated with travel, translation, local experts, and data collection tools. Balancing the need for comprehensive research with budget constraints is essential.



Conducting market research across multiple countries offers a wealth of opportunities for organizations to tap into new markets and gain a competitive edge. However, success in such endeavors hinges on thorough planning and a deep understanding of the diverse landscapes you intend to explore. By accounting for cultural sensitivities, adapting methodologies, and embracing local expertise, organizations can glean accurate insights that pave the way for informed decisions and successful market strategies.


This blog post was written with assistance from ChatGPT.


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