Conducting Quantitative Research Globally
Undertaking global market research is a careful balance between the consistency of approach and optimizing approaches per country. Generally, consistency in approach is always to be preferred. It means there is one less variable in the mix. However, an insistence on a standard approach may not come without a cost, and that cost depends on the countries involved in the project.
The first potential cost is in terms of sample coverage. Data collection method does, to a large extent, drive sampling choices. If the desired interview method is the telephone, then the researcher needs to be cognizant of telephone coverage, the mobile-only phenomenon, and the ability of sampling companies to generate random samples (or not) in each country. Note that an ability to execute a method does not guarantee that the sampling is as you might expect, either in terms of randomness or in coverage. This latter point particularly applies to Online research.
The second potential cost is in fieldwork ‘quality’ or expertise. Making an agency do something that they may be unfamiliar with, in the name of consistency, may be counter-productive if they cannot execute it correctly. While there are resources to help understand relative telephone penetration, online penetration, and fieldwork method prevalence open discussion with your local fieldwork partner(s) is invaluable in understanding the “best” approach to your project, in that market. Projects are undertaken in a spirit of partnership, rather than with a client:vendor mindset, are often more successful.
Thus, it may well be “better” to allow the local agency to conduct the research using their preferred/normal approach. This will likely maximize data quality at the data collection stage while, at the same time, introducing mode effects. Particular care must be taken in mixing interviewed and self-completion modes.
Having decided on the approach in each market, it is vital not to assume that they “do there like you do it at home”. At home, interviews may only be undertaken in one or two major cities. Telephone penetration may also be skewed to urban areas. It is incumbent on the lead researcher to ask the relevant questions and understand how they may affect the data and its comparability.
It can be seen from the above that additional time must be allocated to understanding the full implications of agency and method choice. This time is best spent at the bid phase to avoid unpleasant surprises in the analysis phase. In some methods, such as online and telephone, it is possible to “go it alone” without needing to engage local partners at all. While this does shorten start-up times and is usually more cost-efficient, it does not release the researcher from needing to understand the background to the country, particularly as it relates to sampling issues, nor is it without other dangers. Not having local partners also removes any valuable input they may have on questionnaire design, translation and localization, and at the analysis phase.
Interested in learning more? You can take a Principles Express course at your own pace, entirely online, in 8 to 14 hours. For only $359, Quantitative Data Collection Methods will teach you how to best collect data on a global scale. You’ll receive a certificate from the University of Georgia for completing the course. Click here or call +1-706-542-3537!
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