How to take your research international

2.87 billion consumers will be using a smartphone by 2020. That's literally billions of consumers with access to the internet, and the capacity to call, text, browse, shop and take surveys. Discover the 4 key steps to launch your research into international markets and capture global audiences.

By the year 2020, according to Cisco, more people will have mobile phones than will have access to electricity. It’s estimated that, by this milestone, 5.4 billion people will have a mobile phone in their back pocket, while 5.3 billion will have personal access to a regular supply of electricity.

It’s a sobering fact about the changing priorities of communities around the world, and their reliance on mobile phones, as well as clearly demonstrating the digitisation of the global economy. Though not all of these people will have access to smartphones, over half of that 5.4 billion figure (2.87 billion) will in fact be using a smartphone by the time 2020 rolls around.

That’s literally billions of consumers with access to the internet, and the capacity to use it to call, text, browse, shop and even take surveys.

All this goes to show the increasingly global opportunity for brands who are willing (and able) to look outside their own borders. For many brands, the strategy for reaching international markets is either already in action or at the top of their list of priorities.

While consumer research is important for optimising business decisions and mitigating risk in the brand’s home country, it’s vital if your brand is expanding (or already operating) abroad.

Assumptions and preconceptions can’t be carried across borders without the serious risk of approaching the new territory with prejudices that will hold your brand back from success. Nor can you wisely approach international expansion with a flimsy ‘suck it and see’ attitude. You definitely don’t want to end up in a similar situation to Dolce & Gabbana for example.

As with all business decisions, being well-informed is the straightest path to success. And with foreign markets, extra effort to understand consumers will be necessary, to make up for the fact that your brand isn’t ingrained in the culture already and might not have existing revenue metrics to consult.

Ease the journey into foreign markets by reading on, to discover the four step process for taking your consumer research international.

Step 1: choose your use case

The path to international research begins much the same as any local insights project: decide upon the scope and goal of your research. This could range anywhere from audience segmentation, to concept testing, to brand tracking and campaign evaluation. Wherever your needs lie, these steps will help you launch your international research in order to gather the insights that allow you to make the right choices for your consumers wherever they call home.

Read the complete guide to survey creation for a comprehensive check-list and best practices to have by your side throughout your next survey project.

Competitor Intelligence is one use case that we find brands are keen to conduct as part of their international marketing strategy. Especially when they’re in the stages of planning their international expansion, and without a team on the ground in the new area, speaking to consumers can be one of the only ways to gauge an honest view of the current players in their sector.

DogBuddy are one of the brands that conduct international competitor intelligence with Attest. They double this up with an international brand tracker, to gather data on both the success of their own brand in the 8 countries they currently operate in, and the rise and fall of local competitors in each market.

Their quarterly brand tracker covers everything from awareness of the DogBuddy brand, to competitors’ Net Promoter Scores, and clearly quantifies their successes in each market for presentation to their board members.

Step 2: in-platform translations

One of the most daunting elements of conducting international research is never really knowing whether the questions you draft will be understood and interpreted in the way you want once they’re written in another language.

Here at Attest, we work with a highly-recommended translation parter, to be 100% sure that your questions are accurately captured. All you’d need to do is write the questions in your native language, and our partner takes care of the rest in-platform.

If you’re conducting qualitative research, then translation of the results back into your native language can be just as easily provided.

This saves on you having to deal with additional partners, reduces the numbers of steps it takes to do international research, and even allows for streamlined receipts and billings – which can quickly mount up for larger organisations working across multiple markets.

Alternatively, we’re happy to accept your own translations, if you’d rather draft the survey in the recipient language.

Step 3: decide who to ask

All too often, market research providers claim to be in markets that they’re not truthfully able to access, so sub-contract your project to another supplier. This adds more distance between your brand and the consumers you’re trying to reach, and additional steps to the process, both reducing the view you have on the quality of the data being gathered and increasing the time it takes to gather it.

At Attest, we connect directly with audiences across the world, via API, to ensure you know exactly who you’re reaching.  Our partners have consistent standards and quality checks in place, and every respondent enjoy the same beautiful survey interface we’ve designed for maximum engagement. This all means that you can be sure of, and have insight into, the quality of the responses your survey is gathering.

If you’re starting your very first foray into international markets, you’ll want to keep your approach to audience reasonably small and broad. You can test questions on small sample sizes then easily increase the sample size with the click of a single button. Dipping your toe in this way will ensure you don’t dive into a project that returns results you weren’t expecting, weren’t prepared for or can’t use. With Attest’s access to 100 million consumers across 80 countries, there’s almost no limit to your reach once you’re ready to take the dive!

The audience should also be kept broad, at least to begin with, until you establish the demographics your product appeals to within the international markets: don’t make the mistake of assuming your foreign customers will look the same as your home ones do.

Keeping the audience broad will allow you to capture outlying consumers who you hadn’t predicted would be interesting to you. The Attest results page allows for easy cross-tabbing and filtering to dive deeper into the views and behaviours of individual demographics from within your wider pool.

If you know who you want to speak to, on a demographic level, then these exclusions can be set up with Attest. Our platform will automatically refresh the number of active respondents accessible based on the demographics you select, giving you an honest view of the reach we have.

Then, you’re ready to start collecting responses!

Step 4: once you’re done, re-run

Data held in a vacuum is almost always of little use. For some use cases, for instance creative testing, a single survey will enable you to act, albeit this should be iterated on to properly optimise the creative asset. However, most often taking one dip into the market or looking at the results from one market in isolation, requires all sorts of risky assumptions in order to draw conclusions.

It’s only by taking repeated, similar snapshots over time that you’ll be able to gauge success or failure in the steps your brand takes abroad – by noting the rise or fall of key metrics. The results from a single market alone are also less useful compared to the rich insights from comparing results in multiple markets.

Global teams are easily able to spot markets in need of attention by looking at the local results in parallel. The multiple-dip approach is necessary to allow for this, however, as factors such as GDP, culture and climate can have consistent impact on increasing or decreasing metrics for individual markets, and it’s only by seeing how stable those figures are over time that you’ll be able to discover if affecting those metrics is within your control.

The next steps…

As a consumer brand experiencing success in your home country, it’s an exciting prospect to believe that the world is your oyster. And the temptation might be to rush into a new market, sure in the knowledge that the same strategy worked at home. However, knowing your market, before you take your first steps, is vital to both mitigating the risks involved in expanding and ensuring the strategy is optimised for success in the specific market to which you’re heading.

Here at Attest, we’ve helped dozens of brands conduct their vital international research, including Tommee Tippee, Treatwell and Discovery Networks.

To discover how your brand can begin to understand your global consumers, for all manner of use cases and research projects, get in touch with Attest.


Content Team 

Our in-house marketing team is always scouring the market for the next big thing. This piece has been lovingly crafted by one of our team members. Attest's platform makes gathering consumer data as simple and actionable as possible.

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