International marketing research is full of complexities. Comment.

International marketing research is more complicated as compared to domestic marketing research due to differences in the environment. Marketing research is systematic and objective collection of data, its analysis and evaluation and decision-making in respect of specific aspects of marketing problem. Collection of accurate and reliable data is a complicated job even in domestic markets.

Following are the special problems associated with international marketing:

  1. Differences in perceptions.
  2. Conceptual differences.
  3. Language.
  4. Sampling errors.
  5. Lack of standardized approach.
  6. Difficulty in analysis and interpretation.

Difference in Perceptions.

Perceptions differ across countries. Cycles are perceived as basic means of transportation in some countries, while in few other countries they have recreational value and in some other they are used as a good means of physical exercise. In these circumstance, the perceptions about cycles cannot be compared on same scale and the scales have to be adjusted for accommodating the differences in situations.

Conceptual Differences.

Conceptual differences also need to be tackled carefully in international marketing research, as the same terms do not carry the same meanings in different markets. For example, the terms such as middle class, upper middle class, upper class do not imply same income groups across countries. What one may mean by middle class in India may entirely be different from the meaning of middle class in USA. Living standards and economic conditions in India and the USA need to be analyzed on different scales.

The following concepts of economics and marketing need to be analyzed with utmost care, while analyzing the data and information generated out of international marketing research:

  • Premium segment of a market.
  • Prosperous markets.
  • Desirable level of living.
  • Economic openness.
  • Social openness.
  • High and low levels of saving.
  • High and low levels of growth.
  • Consumer awareness.
  • Political liberty.
  • Consumerism.
  • Aggressive marketing.

Translation from one Language to other Languages.

Translation from one language to other languages poses many problems since every language is associated with the history and culture of the country. It is a very difficult task to convey exactly the spirit of the original in the the translated version. To overcome many of these problems, a process called back translation is used. In this process, the questionnaire is first translated into the other language by one translator and then this translation is translated back into the original language by a different translator.

This process minimizes the problems arising out of discrepancies between the original and the translated version. Another way to overcome translation problems is to incorporate the relevant items from each country included in the research study. This process is called de-centering.

Sampling Errors.

In any research confined to either national boundaries or covering many countries, the issue of sample selection occupies the center-stage. The desired sample may not always be available and, hence, attempts should be made to make the sample as representative as possible. Further, the extent of comparability should always be reported so that an appropriate analysis may follow. The following types of errors may creep in sampling in international Marketing research:

  • Frame error.
  • Non-response error.
  • Selection error.
  • Definitional error.
  • Instrument error.

In international marketing research, sampling frame errors arise because of the diversity of the sources. Often it will be noticed that more than one source needs to be used, some to collect the required information. There is a serious problem of lack of timely response from respondents due to a number of reasons. Similarly there are chances of selection errors due to lack of sufficient and reliable information. Since the same definitions are not suitable for various countries, definitional errors arise.

Lack of Standardized Approach.

A standardized approach towards international marketing research is neither feasible nor advisable since countries differ in a number of respects. For example, problems crop up when languages, cultures, economic levels, are etc. different. International marketing research becomes a more difficult task particularly in those countries, where more than one language is spoken, as is the case with India.

Even if the same language is spoken in more than one country, terminologies may differ. For example, though English is spoken both in USA and India, terms such as lorry, lift, chilies, petrol, brinjal, etc., are not used in USA instead truck, elevator pepper, gasoline and egg plant are the corresponding terms in use in the USA.

Difficulty in Analysis and Interpretation.

Analysis and interpretation of data collected in international marketing research poses a number of problems because such data are subjected to adjustment/ vetting.


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