Here, you will find information on qualitative research and a variety of suggestions to bear in mind when planning to carry out fieldwork in Spain. Most of the tips and articles are coined by us but we are very much in favour of making reference to other author's links whenever we consider they may be useful to market research practitioners.

miércoles, 28 de noviembre de 2012

The face-to-face interface

This article, written by Stephen Turner, details the benefits unique to face-to-face research, including group bonding and access to nonverbal cues and metadata. 

The Internet has, in a few short years, redefined our abilities to reach diverse segments of people where they live and work either as a batch or real-time process. Thanks to consumer-level proliferation of broadband connectivity, Webcams, smartphones and the like, we can conduct complex interviews with dispersed and even rare samples of respondents using audio and visual communications of considerable fidelity. There is no question that this is a great step forward for our discipline.

But, in the midst of this rush to capitalize on the efficiencies of digital research, I want to cast some words of serious caution. My intent is not to denigrate the Internet as a research tool but to remind the reader that it does not erase the need to gather face-to-face data in pursuit of understanding human beings. My thesis is that our work isn’t fully done until we sit across the table from those we wish to understand – physically in their presence as we engage in discourse about their needs and interests.
Not the first time
This is not the first time, incidentally, that our industry has encountered such issues. In the first half of the 20th century, opinion polling (the forerunner of marketing research) was conducted largely by canvassing sampled neighborhoods on foot, with rigid rules about which households you should stop at and with whom you were to speak when you got there. But the efficiencies of mail and telephone surveys were too seductive to continue relying solely on a face-to-face approach.
Furthermore, it was clear almost from the onset that mail and phone studies each had its own set of limitations and biases. Mail surveys allowed you to provide visual stimuli but you had little control over who answered, when and with what sorts of preparation. Additionally, it was all but impossible to stop people from backtracking or otherwise distorting the order in which they answered questions. Phone surveys solved some of these problems but had their own issues to contend with – no visuals, for example, unless they were distributed beforehand. But more troublesome was the temporal imperative to answer the questions in relatively short order whether you understood the question or had the wherewithal to answer. Each approach had advantages but left something out in the process.
An extraordinary tool
In comparison, the Internet is an extraordinary tool. It can be used in so many different ways – from analyzing content that flows on its own (e.g., blogs, reviews, social media) to various synchronous and asynchronous querying techniques from chat boards to online focus groups, which simulate face-to-face encounters with considerable precision. And with today’s smart mobile devices, respondents can take the interview with them – into their homes where they’re comfortable or to the store where they can describe what goes through their heads as they weigh their options.
However, like all of the new techniques before it, there is still an important body of information left on the table, even as our technological skills bring us closer to the experience of face-to-face communications. My sense is that Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, “The medium is the message,” is as relevant to Internet-based research as it was to the advent of TV when McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man was published in 1964. Indeed, I am absolutely sure it is.
A social animal
Man is a social animal. Parts of our brains have evolved over many millennia to attend to communications that take place on levels other than verbal. There are thousands of scientific articles attesting to the fact that a lot of what we “say” to each other is transmitted via all of our senses in ways so nuanced as to defy verbal recognition.
Moms and infants communicate with each other long before language forms for the little one. Adults recognize others’ dispositions and moods instantly without knowing exactly how or why. Experts in nonverbal communication tell us how to recognize when people are lying, just nervous or, perhaps, romantically inclined. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, he describes peoples’ abilities to make good decisions instantly even when high-level cognitions tell them to do otherwise – decisions made on the basis of nonverbal communication.

The effects of nonverbal cognition are an important part of social and personal understanding. Today’s brain scientists tell us that we echo the appropriate emotions of others whom we are watching. We experience genuine fear and excitement and sadness and anxiety as we observe others in situations manifesting those emotions. So it happens that group behavior ebbs and flows with a rhythm that is interconnected among group members in ways that cannot be explained as an aggregate of individuals’ isolated thoughts and feelings. Say what you will about groupthink, the truth is that we think and behave as groups in real life. We are an inherently social species.
Taken in context
When you have a group discussion in a face-to-face environment, interactions take place on an entirely different level than they do in an Internet-based focus group. Interactions in digital groups take place on the basis of literal interpretations of what is being said. 

Interactions in a face-to-face group are based on literal communications taken in the context of a continuous flow and interpretation of descriptive metadata (having to do with how the information was delivered) – information our brains have come to understand and over the past million-or-so years. Such modifications often yield very different sets of messages.

I’m not trying to say that moderators, even the best of them, are extraordinary in their ability to read all the subtle cues that emanate from face-to-face encounters. What I’m saying is that all of us are hardwired to do this. A good moderator is perhaps better tuned in to such vibes than most. He or she may not be a studied expert in turning covert communications into overt messages but has learned how to use that underlying current of information to arrive at a deeper sense of what someone is really trying to say.
A good moderator thinks carefully about the literal meaning of what someone is saying, modifies that literal meaning in the light of nonverbal cues and then – this is the key – asks the respondent to clarify the extent to which the moderator’s interpretation of what was meant fits or doesn’t fit the respondent’s intended message. This is an iterative process and dramatically more effective in person than online.
Furthermore, and just as importantly, this same process is going on with everyone who is party to the conversation. Because we are human and because our brains are designed to attend to the flow of emotive cues that surround individual pronouncements, our reactions to what someone says in our presence are continuously being modified and do not always track with a literal interpretation of what was actually mouthed. Despite the efforts of even the most rigid of moderators, those reactions enter into the dynamics of all group discussions.
The metadata
People posture. They do it all the time. They do it to convince others and themselves that they truly are the person they project. The interesting thing is that we’re often more capable of – or at least willing to – acknowledge the pretenses of others than we are our own. Focus groups (as well as 12-step programs) make use of the fact that, as social animals, we sense when other people are misrepresenting themselves, perhaps because we are familiar with the same pattern in ourselves but also because we are all expert at attending to nonverbal cues that accompany the communication. Furthermore, it doesn’t take long in a physical group setting for members to press each other to explain discrepancies between what they literally say and what they seem to be saying when one takes into account the metadata.
Unfortunately much of that metadata is missing when we interface digitally. In a face-to-face setting, micro-expressions that would never be seen on screen are readily apparent, such as eyes rolling back, a one-sided sneer, a particularly-intense rather than off-handed delivery – all things that fine-tune the intent of one’s words. Body language is vivid. Hand gesticulations, submissive posture, a slight turn away from the listener or a cock of the head all add shades of meaning. Sighs, snorts, giggles, huffs and murmurs emphasize the emotional components of a viewpoint. Indeed, a host of marginal cues that may not be seen or felt in an Internet transmission are obvious in a face-to-face setting – perhaps to be considered at a low level of consciousness but nonetheless pertinent to interpreting an intended meaning.
And I’m only mentioning here things that are overtly apparent. Some communicators precluded from Internet representation entirely (e.g., odors, flop sweat, etc.) can modify how we interpret what literally spills from the mouth. Smell-O-Vision has been talked about for years but it isn’t here yet.

Lost in transmission
It’s not just odors, of course, that are lost in transmission. The sensing devices that feed remote interviews are, by-and-large, fixed in their focus. Cameras are generally trained on the face and upper torso and rarely offer acute details of either. Microphones also tend to be focused to filter out extraneous noise, blocking metadata in the process. Because almost all transmissions involve duplex communication, there is very little by way of useful sidebar information.
In a traditional, face-to-face focus group, I can direct my visual or audio focus anywhere I want at any time. If there’s a sidebar event taking place, I can divert my attention from the primary conversation to the sidebar (and I can assure you that sidebars are frequently more interesting and relevant than the primaries). Doing this is all but impossible in a digital encounter where sidebar information, if present, is generally too indistinct or garbled to track.
A complete story
So, it happens that 40+ years of conducting marketing research studies of all types have convinced me that face-to-face inquiry is an essential part of truly understanding peoples’ thoughts, feelings and dispositions toward the products, services and communications we study in our work. To be sure, we can get a huge amount of reliable and valid information by carefully collecting data via the Internet but we won’t have a complete story until we lace in some of the richness that comes only from sitting down across from someone in the physical world and talking things through.
The problem, of course, is that face-to-face work is expensive and time-consuming. It is especially difficult when you need to talk to people who are geographically dispersed. Still, I believe leaving out face-to-face work entirely is equivalent to the drunk who looks for his lost watch under a streetlamp because that’s where the light’s best.
What I wish to advocate here is that, as an industry, we develop hybrid approaches to research that include components suited to digital research in addition to substantial face-to-face work.
A goodly number of our clients are already marrying digital and face-to-face approaches that transcend the sum of their parts to create new avenues of understanding. The surface is just being scratched, with new ways of using smartphones and tablets to gather personalized observations and bringing those observations into face-to-face settings. I believe these approaches have enormous promise for illuminating peoples’ attitudes and motivations.
Not just words
But no matter how elegantly it is done, no matter how closely the medium mimics reality, I remain convinced that if you don’t spend a good deal of time and energy on thoughtful discourse in the physical presence of your customers, you are never going to understand exactly what they are trying to tell you. Articulateness is not just a matter of words. It also comes from the way words are packaged and no emoticons – no matter how clever – can achieve the warmth of face-to-face interaction.

By Stephen Turner
Stephen Turner is chairman of Fieldwork Inc., a Chicago research company. He is based in Honolulu.
This article was originally published in December 2012 by Quirk’s Marketing Research Review. Article ID: 201206608

jueves, 19 de abril de 2012

How Simultaneous Interpreting Can Best Communicate Meaning And Nuance In Foreign-Language Focus Groups

Research practitioners know the impact that interpreting can have on work.  Poor interpretations can give clients the wrong impression as to what they are hearing and its significance. More importantly, if the QRC is not acting as the moderator nor speaks the group’s language, he or she can also be misled by inaccurate interpreting, which can skew the QRC’s final report. Thus, it is worthwhile to explore the nature of focus group interpreting and examine the benefits derived from using professional moderator-interpreter dyads to avoid the pitfalls of standard translation services. This article was selected by the American Market Association for its Resource Library.

If viewing your foreign focus groups is important to you or your clients, you may have wondered: How can we deliver the messages across the one way mirror in the way they emerge from the focus groups?

This is where simultaneous interpreting (also called simultaneous translating) comes in. As research practitioners, we know the impact that interpreting can have on our work. Poor interpretations can give clients (who are watching the groups) the wrong impression as to what they are hearing and its significance. More importantly, if the QRC is not acting as the moderator nor speaks the group’s language (which is common when American QRCs must carry out focus groups outside the U.S.), he or she can also be misled by inaccurate interpreting, which can skew the QRC’s final report. Thus, it is worthwhile to explore the nature of focus group interpreting and examine the benefits derived from using professional moderator-interpreter dyads to avoid the pitfalls of standard translation services.

Interpreting and translating can be used interchangeably. In this article, I often refer to interpreters, rather than translators, to highlight the added complexity that comes when attempting to communicate not just the words a respondent says but the fullness of meaning that can be lost on those who do not speak the language and understand the cultural references.

Before exploring how to improve the interpreting itself, we must first be aware that the message received is directly influenced both by the interpreter and by how the focus group viewers process what they see and hear. In reality, simultaneous interpreting is a complex process that occurs in the interpreters’ minds and is thus limited to their own comprehension of the group discussion and its subject matter.

We should also acknowledge that cultural barriers and the pace of simultaneous interpreting may sometimes confuse foreign viewers. The seconds in between one statement and its translation can present an obstacle to getting the message through to the back room.

Likewise, it may lead to the misinterpretation of body language or cause a viewer to lose track of which speaker the interpreter is referring to.

In fact, we cannot control the way speech is processed by the relevant parties, but we can minimize misunderstandings by helping ensure that the message is conveyed correctly. This highlights the importance of transmitting the message in its entirety, with its cultural load, feeling and intention.

In a successful simultaneous translation, the interpreter’s speech flows naturally at the pace set by the group discussion. It appears to be the result of a rare ability based primarily on intuition, instead of what it really is: the culmination of a long process in which instinct, skills and preparation converge.

Indeed, we can minimize the problems that hinder the flow of communication towards the viewing room when we acknowledge that simultaneous interpreting for focus groups is quite different from any other form of translation. To prepare for a successful interpretation experience, consider the following.

Simultaneous interpreting for focus groups requires additional preparation.

Conference and focus group interpreting demand adequate preparation. Simultaneous translators/interpreters need to study the background material and ascertain whether or not their subject knowledge is sufficient or should be brushed up in time for the event.

Preparation for a focus group, however, requires additional efforts, as the interpreter needs to thoroughly study the discussion guide (aside from other materials) so as to understand its rationale from a marketing perspective. The interpreter needs to be ready to convey the information that is of interest to the client, even if the moderator jumps from one subject to another, following the flow of ideas. Clearly, this can only be possible through conscientious preparation and two-way communication between the moderator and the project leader.

The briefing should include the interpreter.

Successful interpreting at a conference or during a focus group session must take the viewing client — and the QRC, if he or she is in the back room, rather than moderating the group — into account. Even if interpreters are properly prepared for the event, they will require briefing on the day it occurs.

During the briefing, the project leader and the moderator update the simultaneous interpreter on the latest considerations (special requirements, timetables, etc.) and offer suggestions to help the interpreter finetune the translation to the audience’s level of expertise. A focus group briefing runs much longer than a briefing for a conference, since it focuses on study objectives and identifies different considerations for each section of the questionnaire.

This is the time for interpreters to raise questions and clear up any doubts.Only in this way will the interpreter be able to capture the participants’ relevant reactions.

The interpreter’s role

When working at a conference, simultaneous interpreters aim to deliver a coherent, clean and accurate speech. For market research purposes, the emphasis falls on the ability to convey a message that is richer than the words themselves.

In this respect, simultaneous interpreting for a focus group may be much more challenging, as the interpreter must communicate not only the verbal content, but also the respondents’ impressions, their doubts and feelings, their body language and their reactions to the ideas discussed.

Thus, the interpreter conveys the multiple signals that comprise the message: the context, the line of the argument and the degree to which respondents react to a given situation. This kind of performance facilitates comprehension in the back room, allowing viewers to focus on those points that are valuable for the project. That said, however, the role of the interpreter is limited to translating what the participants say, and it is not, in any way, related to explaining or analyzing the meaning, the implications or the impact of what participants say, which is the QRC’s role.

Interpreting for focus groups

Following up and communicating a piece of conversation in a way that is meaningful for the research requires a set of skills and organizational capacity that do not compare with conference interpreters’ usual assignments, in which a single line of speech is followed. Experienced simultaneous interpreters for focus groups are used to interpreting while discussions take place amongst participants, who under normal circumstances speak simultaneously, overlap and interrupt each others’ lines of argument.

This turns interpretation into a fine art in which the simultaneous interpreter has to perfectly understand the connotative message delivered by the source speaker(s), then reconstitute it and adapt it to the audience, in its own language and in “real time,” while considering the marketing objectives.

Changing needs, changing instructions

Generally speaking, conference interpreters receive a set of instructions that remain unchanged during the assignment. Conversely, the nature of the instructions addressed to market research interpreters is dynamic and characterized by change and development; in fact, the instructions evolve with the flow of the focus group dialogue.

Furthermore, while conference interpreters normally work in an enclosure and have minimal or no interaction during their shifts, market-research simultaneous interpreters must be open to receiving input from the client or the moderator at any time. In reality, they have to be in sync with both in order to do their job properly.

Having examined the distinctive features of interpreting focus groups, and prior to assessing the improvements brought by using moderator-interpreter dyads, we should look into whether or not it is appropriate to assign all our market-research projects to the same interpreter.

Context Matters. Interpreters with Industry Experience Help.

A couple of months ago, I moderated focus groups with motorcyclists and professional racers. One of my objectives was to trigger a discussion about their motorcycles’ performance, and we expected that participants would engage passionately on the subject of mechanics. As we did not want to miss that information, the approach to the project called for a simultaneous translator who understood the mechanical jargon within the context of the racing world. I gave a clear briefing to the facility, and it hired an interpreter who did a wonderful job.

We can assume that a simultaneous translator who does a good job in one particular field may not be the best alternative to cover another. Previous experience interpreting focus groups and a degree of specialization on the subject matter to be researched are prerequisites to qualify for assignments. Not any professional interpreter will suffice.

The Moderator-Interpreter Dyad Improves the Outcome of Interpreters.

Over the years, I have become increasingly aware of the risk involved in not considering the benefits derived from mutual understanding between the moderator and the interpreter; the importance of their working synergy and alignment behind a goal is obvious when the focus groups begin.

In my view, improving the outcome of simultaneous interpreting requires a comprehensive approach, such as that provided by professional moderator-interpreter dyads. To achieve project success, it is vital that the moderator and the interpreter are acquainted with each other’s needs. Only in this manner would the interpreter be able to capture the participants’ relevant reactions. When the interpreter is familiar with the objectives of each section of the questionnaire and understands the purpose of the qualitative exercises, it is more likely that the recipients will receive meaningful information.

In fact, pairing moderators and interpreters produces an overall better result than if each professional were working toward the same goal individually. When the two prepare the session together, share their knowledge and doubts, work as a team to sharpen their abilities, and are ready to support each other if the opportunity arises, we can expect better results. For instance, the moderator can ask participants to speak louder or more slowly or to speak in turns, showing concern for the interpreter’s task. As for the interpreter, in the midst of the discussion, when everybody overlaps each other, he or she can focus on the lines of speech that are, according to the brief, more relevant to the research objectives.

Therefore, the key advantage of hiring a moderator-interpreter dyad is that two members pair up to reach a common goal: fulfilling the QRC’s designated need. Assuming that both are experienced professionals instinctively alert to their individual roles, their ability to be attuned to each other during the group discussion will result in the richly detailed and organized representation of the focus group experience that we, as practitioners, require.

Of course, moderator-interpreter dyads are not readily available everywhere, but this should not prevent practitioners from using their valuable contribution to their work at every opportunity. Essentially, these dyads are a synergistic response to the real issues posed by interpreting in the context of group discussions.

By Aníbal Marrón (1)

(1)Aníbal Marrón is Managing Director of MG Business Research Solutions and Partner at A Window. He is a consultant specialised in positioning and help organizations by suggesting actionable solutions to market situations.

miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2012

Sustainability of the Spanish Public Healthcare System

At present, Spain is undergoing rapid changes to streamline its economy and reduce its deficit. The effects of these changes affect not only the man in the street but also the pharmaceutical industry. This article describes some of the changes that are likely to happen and comments on the potential implications that they may have on patients.

The economic crisis in which Spain finds itself has made apparent the need to reorganize the public health expense.  In fact, right now the national government has placed high on the agenda the importance of developing strategies to minimize costs and maximize the efficiency of the resources of the system. Along these lines, some regional governments have already made cuts to achieve a reduction of the budget deficit in the health area and have even considered the introduction of co-payment.

Some of the measures taken are aimed at the restructuring and reduction of the expense in drugs. This expense in itself reaches close to 25% of the total healthcare expense, which for Spain represents approximately € 3,750 million yearly. This comes as no surprise if one takes into account that the pharmaceutical expense in Spain is one of the highest in the world (1) and much above the average expense of the countries that make up the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Some Measures That Aim At Cutting the Expense in Drugs
In keeping with this goal, the Royal Decree 9/2011 has introduced a modification to the law of reference prices. It implies that when a drug loses its patent (>10 years), whenever there is a generic or biosimilar drug the public health system will finance only those drugs which have the “lower price”. Besides, products that have lost their patents will have to lower their prices a 15% in a mandatory way (2) even if there is no presence of generics or biosimilars in the market. 

While these measures tend to exclude from the reimbursement system all those drugs that do not adjust to a given price, there are also actions intended to encourage a more rational use of the drugs -such as the implementation of single doses- and efforts to obtain better conditions in the negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry.

In connection with the latter, the central government put forward the following:
a) A yearly review of the prices of the reimbursed drugs. This would open a window for renegotiating the prices downwards or leaving some drugs out of reimbursement depending on their use and turnover.
b) The instrumentation of a national purchasing centre to negotiate better prices with the pharmaceutical industry for certain kinds of drugs (3).

Other proposals for the sustainability of the system and/or the reduction of the expense have come in some regions from the Entrepreneurial Federation of Spanish Pharmacists (FEFE). One of these consists in excluding from public reimbursement the drugs aimed at minor pathologies which cost under € 2 –the exclusion would not be applicable to chronic or poly-medicated patients. If this proposal were implemented, the patient would take a bigger role in the choice of some drugs.

It is clear that if these changes take place and the trends settled, they will lay the foundation for new game rules, giving a greater role to other actors and modifying power relations.

For the health system, getting out of the crisis will require making difficult decisions and will entail new challenges and opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry. Another reality is taking shape, which will have to be explored. It will impact upon the standards of service that the patients get, the drugs prescribed, the balance between the parties and the way all of it is perceived by the citizens.

By Gimena Rodriguez, Field Director with A Window.

(1) http:/
(2)BOE State Official Bulletin Nº314. Friday 30th, December 2011-Sec 1 Page 145936
(3)The products which might come into the purchasing central would be: vaccines incorporated in the common vaccine timetable of the national health system, the seasonal flu vaccines of the winter 2012-2013; the antibiotics of most common use, such as amoxicilin, amoxi-clavulanic acid, cefazolin, gentamicin, and others: the antiviral drugs (zidovudine, aciclovir). Erythropoietins, and the growth hormone, the antineoplasics with generic or copy, such as Paclitaxel, Oxaliplatin and others and the serums and other health products such as alcohol, gauzes, poultices, or urine absorbents.  


Checklists help with major undertakings such as moving across county or preparing for a long vacation. A checklist could be equally helpful for a global marketing research project. This article provides a checklist for such an endeavor.

Have you ever moved across the country with a professional moving company, or taken a long vacation and consulted with AAA or a travel agent? Often, these organizations will give you a checklist to insure success in such a major undertaking.

Well, guess what? A global marketing research project is also a major undertaking! So why hasn’t someone put together a checklist to help marketing researchers and other professionals navigate the rough seas that can threaten the validity and actionability of these projects?

Below please find your checklist, which can be copied for your convenient use and that of your colleagues.

I have written this list from the point-of-view of a researcher who may plan either to use a coordinating marketing research firm or to directly field a study in international markets. In either case, the issues and concerns in the checklist are the same.

  • Does the local in-market research firm being used to field your study have 10 or more years of experience in fielding research in each country they are responsible for (or, at least six years in markets that weren’t open until ’90—’91, such as Eastern Europe), so that a strong understanding of local cultural variables and appropriate study design is available?
  • Has the questionnaire/discussion guide been translated to the local language by personnel who currently speak the local language day-to-day, and who are therefore up-to-date on current meanings, usages and slang, etc.?
  • Has the local language questionnaire/discussion guide version been back-translated to English, again by personnel who are current speakers of the local language and English?
  • Is your study benefiting from consulting help from your local in-market research firms at the stages of determining local study methodology, questionnaire/discussion guide design, and again during analysis of results?
  • Is your study being fielded by local companies that have the correct level of expertise for the study at hand and who have sufficient experience and caring to brief and monitor fieldwork, and to validate the results of the interviewing?
  • Have you arranged for translation of briefing materials, respondent stimuli (including any videotapes), etc., into the appropriate local languages? In addition, have you ascertained the appropriate format for any videotaped stimuli (i.e., PAL, NTSC, etc.)?
  • If there are study requirements that include the need for certain water temperatures or for amounts of different items such as in a recipe, are these requirements expressed in understandable terms for all countries included in the study (i.e., Fahrenheit versus Celsius, metric versus English measurements, etc.)?
  • If a certain study has requirements for electrical equipment, such as a particular computer or an appliance that must be demonstrated, have you determined that appropriate electrical adapters are available so that the equipment can be used in each country?
  • Have you checked for recent major weather or other events, such as the large forest fires in Mexico and Indonesia which caused smoke to travel over vast areas of surrounding countries? These events could have a major impact on planned research, especially research that depends on sensory perceptions of taste and smell.
  • Have you checked for possible political issues with respect to conducting research in each country? As an example, Indonesia places a moratorium on conducting polling or marketing research three months prior to a national election. Such local regulations may affect your ability to deliver research results on time.
  • Have you allowed for possible lengthy delays in customs for certain types of product in certain countries? Again, this can cause major problems in conducting work on time.
  • Have you dealt with the actual fielding of the study within each country in terms of the cities that are selected, and assured that each cell of the study is receiving the identical geographic spread within each country (across cities, etc.)?
  • If you are conducting a multi-country study, are editing, coding, data entry, and data tabulation functions centralized with consistent decision-making and oversight?
  • If you are conducting a multi-country study, have you designed the questionnaire so that different brand lists can be fielded in each country, and so that identical brands can be easily identified and tabulated across all countries where they are found?
  • If you plan to view the results of your multi-country study in total, have you assessed the need for the cross-calibration of any scalar data, so that results are able to be combined and analyzed across cultures?
  • Have you considered the need to create more than one questionnaire per country, depending on the number of regional dialects or even indigenous languages that may exist?
  • Do not automatically assume that a CATI telephone study as it is fielded in the U.S. is also the appropriate method for international markets. You very likely will need to go to door-to-door interviewing or some other type of face-to-face approach, such as hall interviewing with street intercepts. Here is where local consulting advice is critical in getting the job done right.
  • Have you secured moderators in each country that have the appropriate language and cultural fit to relate well to respondents and elicit their feedback?
  • If personnel are attending who do not speak the local language, have you arranged for simultaneous translation? Have you also arranged for audiotaping of the simultaneous translation, along with videotaping of the interviewing?
  • Although you may be used to using one moderator across all cities in the U.S., have you checked for the need to use different moderators within the same country in international markets, due to different cultural situations and languages/regional dialects?
  • If you or your colleagues do not attend qualitative work internationally, have you arranged for transcripts of the interviewing to be created and translated to English? And, have you arranged for these English transcripts to be sent to you electronically?
  • Have you arranged for briefing of all moderators, either in-person or via long-distance conference call, depending on whether you are traveling to the interviewing sites?
  • Have you determined if a viewing room with a one-way mirror is available, or whether a video set-up is available for observing the interviewing?

It is important to review all of these issues when coordinating international/global marketing research studies. Others may arise that have not been included here. If so, I would be very happy to hear about them. Meanwhile, enjoy the opportunities global/international work can provide - and may you do so as successfully as possible.

By Kent Hamilton
Vice president/Director of international services at A&G Research, Inc., New York.
(*) This article was originally published in November 1998 by Quirk’s Marketing Research Review. (Article ID:19981109)