International Market Research is a particular discipline of Market Research, focusing on certain geographical areas.
International Market Research is concerned with consumer goods, but also with any resource or service within a value chain which will be commercially utilised or further processed – which is the area of industrial goods and B2B-Marketing.
International market research projects may have various objectives and purposes.
Classical market research very often covers cross-country issues. Same question, but being raised internationally. This may however lead to differing answers from country to country – due to historical or cultural reasons. This implies that country-specific answers will also lead to internationally differing marketing decision.
Research topics usually include the following aspects:
- Development of customer needs and customer desires
- Customer´s perception of the company, compared to competitor companies
- Performance and adequacy of marketing tools such as product and services, branding, direct sales and distribution channels, communications including internet marketing, pricing – all this being challenged by standardization (“world product”) or country-specific features (local speciality).
- Marketing innovation: new business models and billing schemes, new variations of marketing tools, new technology applications
- Service quality of business relations between customers and sales persons or service technicians, to be examined by mystery shopping
- Openness for and acceptance of new technology applications
Strategic projects within international corporate planning and globalization affect a firm’s New Business Development.
These projects may include very differing objectives, for instance:
- Evaluation and selection of target markets – e.g. examining market potentials, market attractiveness, market barriers, intensity of competition, sales channels, customer segments and others more
- Preparations for new sales market entry – e.g. profiling and prioritising of prospective customers, providing short lists of target customers “turn-key”-ready for sales managers, short lists of resellers, distributors, intermediaries, and logistics or other service facilities
- Procurement out of new vendors – e.g. profiling, evaluation and selection of suppliers, clarification of detail questions such as transportation, custom duties, payment procedures, and others more
- Shift of production – e.g. country comparison, execution of feasibility studies, later research for manufacturers, suppliers, manufacturing facilities, personnel and others more.
- Take-over of competitors in target markets, again creation of long and short lists, profiling, contacting, negotiating, due diligence and others more.
All these examples mean that accurate, complete, and up-dated pieces of information are delivered to come to sound decisions.
Usually, there is a clear geographical focus on specific country markets.
Why is International Market Research so important ?
International Market Research shall identify new business opportunities and help assure a so-called area strategy which defines which geographical hemisphere needs to be covered.
Generelly, market research intends to provide new ideas, comparisons, and control information for marketing deciders. These deciders are found not only in Marketing and Sales, Import and Export positions, but also in New Business Development, in a Strategy staff, in Corporate Planning departments and of course, within top management.
International Market Research provides an information base for strategic decisions. Here, competitive information needs to be available early, fastly, and with the right filter.
What needs to be considered when executing International Market Research?
Strategic decision-making requires an outstandingly high quality information base.
Therefore, international market research projects have to consider the following:
- Globalization experts are featured by product and industry knowledge, industry-specific experiences, methodological know-how like research methods, information access (e.g. to specializing commercial data bases), reputation (e.g. experts with door-opener-quality) and international experience, language skills, and others more
- Competitive information needs the right focus, but also needs to be provided fastly, and early enough in order to be effective.
- Information should be retrieved exclusively for your company – if all the industry enjoys the information there will not be any competitive gain
- Procurement of information may be done by internal staff (“make”, e.g. sales force, internal research department), but also by such type of external market intelligence specialist who are working in the international field.