SEO Marketing Research

SEO Marketing Research header image 2

The changing role of the international market researcher

27 Comments · Marketing Research

Formerly, marketing research was regarded as a staff-function and not a line-function. Marketing researchers had little interaction with marketing managers and did not participate in decision-making.

Similarly, external providers of research had little interaction with managers. However, this demarcation between marketing research and marketing, and thus the distinction between researchers and managers, is becoming thinner.

As the line authority and staff boundary blur, marketing managers are becoming more involved in research, making research more of a line function.

This is likely to continue and even accelerate as “sense and respond” increasingly characterizes a firms’ approach to business.

Thus, the traditional marketing researcher focused on producing presentations and reports for managers will become a rare breed.

Increasingly, the marketing manager is becoming a part of an integrated, decision-making team.

Some of the most effective researchers of customer satisfaction are not only participating in decision-making, but are also deployed as part of the team to implement organizational changes in response to customer satisfaction surveys.

The availability of better decision tools and decision support systems is helping managers become better decision-makers.

Senior managers can now directly access internal and external secondary data from computers and websites around the world.

In this millennium, good marketing researchers will be good marketing managers and vice-versa.

If either fails to do so, they will both be swept away by sudden shifts in the marketplace, as consumers become increasingly empowered through rising incomes, technology, and information access.

Marketing research as a continuous operation
Another change is that more marketing research will be undertaken as part of normal business operations, rather than in response to specific marketing problems or opportunities.

A traditional approach to research started with a definition of the marketing research problem, formulation of a research design, analysis of secondary data, development of a questionnaire and the collection of primary data, data analysis, report preparation and presentation.

In the future, marketing research will be a continuous activity. This will be true for secondary data obtained from syndicated sources as well as primary data collected exclusively by or for the firm.

Trend towards secondary data
As decision-support systems become more pervasive and managers become better at handling information, this trend to continuous research will accelerate.

More and more marketing research problems will be addressed based on secondary data alone.

In the past, collection of primary data was an integral part of marketing research. However, this need not be the case because of the extensive nature of secondary data available online.

Given the time and expense associated with the collection of primary data, the use of secondary data will continue to grow.

Evaluation of secondary data is even more critical for international than for domestic projects.

The need to evaluate data systematically before using it will become even more crucial. Different sources report different values for a given statistic, because of differences in the way the unit is defined.

Measurement units may not be equivalent across countries. Data from highly industrialized countries such as England or Sweden are likely to be more accurate than those from developing countries.

Business and income statistics are affected by the taxation structure and the extent of tax evasion. Population censuses may vary in frequency and year in which the data are collected.

The need for information in the stages of an internationalization process
Before going abroad a company has to evaluate the information needed in the different stages of the internationalization process.

Let’s look into these stages of the decision-making process in international marketing.

Stage 1: Deciding whether to internationalize
Firms need a motivation to go international. They may be looking for external sources of increased competitive advantage, following a competitor’s moves, asked explicitly by their customers, or need a larger market potential for economies of scale.

But motivation does not come spontaneously: the company must be alert and keep gathering the relevant information that will indicate when the moment has arrived.

Not all firms will find internationalization to be the best strategy, but all must constantly question themselves as to whether the right moment has arrived or is about to arrive.

Stage 2: Deciding which markets to enter
When the motivation for internationalization has arisen, companies start doing more intense research to select appropriate markets.

Knowledge in this stage is key, because a fit must be obtained between the firm’s objectives and capabilities and the destination that will be chosen.

After the information has been gathered the international market must be chosen. Probably the most important consideration at this stage is the fit between the foreign market’s demand characteristics and the company’s competences.

A country that is attractive for a specific company might not be the optimal one for another company, or a country might present extremely convenient operational conditions, but not fit the company’s strategy at different levels, for example organizational, political, or financial.

This makes the selection of the final destination different from that of researching market conditions.

The information gathered in the stage of market research has to be put in the broader context of the company’s strategy.

It is likely that no market will be optimal in all dimensions of a company’s strategy, so the final decision must be taken by comparing the overall implications of each candidate.

Stage 3: Deciding how to enter foreign markets
When a firm knows where it wants to go, how should it go there? Entry modes – export strategies, licensing, franchising, marketing alliances, joint ventures, and subsidiaries – differ in the degree of control over foreign operations.

No particular mode of entry gives a higher probability of success than another a priori. Each situation requires a thorough analysis of the best way to enter the specific foreign market, but no general solutions can be given.

The final decision often involves a trade-off between the firm’s desire for control and the desire to maintain flexibility. Also factors such as risk preferences, resources, and capabilities may be included.

Stage 4 and 5: Designing and implementing the international marketing program
When a firm has reached a foreign market with the help of the chosen entry mode, resources must be committed.

Furthermore, a high level of involvement is necessary to update the knowledge that will be used for later international involvement.

A fundamental decision regarding the international marketing strategy across countries is the degree to which managers should standardize or adapt their international marketing mix.

The standardization of the marketing mix is concerned with the extent to which individual elements of the 4Ps can be unified into a common approach for different national markets.

Summing up
Conducting international marketing research is much more complex than domestic marketing research.

Different methodological issues confront the cross-cultural researcher, as well as different practical considerations, such as the legal aspects of conducting research, and the culture’s norm about sharing opinions with strangers.

The viability of global marketing programs will increasingly be assessed through multi-country marketing research studies.

When conducting international marketing research, it is important to realize that, given the environmental differences, a research design appropriate for one country may not be suitable in another.

Which factors will determine whether a firm decides to outsource most of the market analysis tasks or conduct it themselves?

Keywords: research, marketing research, secondary data, primary data, information,


27 Comments so far ↓

Leave a Comment