Intro to Global Market Research Challenges
Market research in emerging countries brings with it a variety of challenges. It’s important for researchers to be aware of these challenges in advance and prepare for them.
There are numerous cultural barriers to doing research in emerging countries. For example, in some places it would be unacceptable for women to conduct personal interviews with men, or vice versa. Another challenge is that during religious holidays, like Ramadan for Muslims, research must be suspended. Cultural taboos, like revealing your wealth to one another in certain parts of Africa, can stop the data gathering process. Another cultural barrier is language. In some regions like Africa, where there are over 1000 different languages, it would be highly expensive for researchers to translate questionnaires for diverse populations. Furthermore, in certain regions the ethnicity of the interviewer would need to be matched with the group being interviewed.
In some countries, the law requires a permit to perform a study. Governments often want to review the survey questions prior to giving their approval. A permit can take several weeks to be obtained, slowing down progress. Since the governments in emerging countries do not take regular census data as developed nations do, it is also extremely difficult for a researcher to target a specific population or to pinpoint a sample group. There is no centralized data to rely on.
In emerging countries, cases of corruption can be common, and illegal searches and confiscation of study materials are not uncommon occurrences. Conducting global
market research in slums is dangerous work. There are criminal gangs that can threaten researchers with violence and/or extortion. In some regions there is civil war activity and political unrest.
Limited Financial and Technological Capabilities
Financial companies are hesitant to finance research studies due to the challenges associated with emerging market research. Budget constraints make research efforts less than optimal, with little resources for R&D, technological upgrades, and staff development. Local interviewers are less qualified and require more follow-up and training to ensure that the data is retrieved and analyzed appropriately.
Many emerging countries have subpar infrastructures, such as poor transportation and road systems, lack of electricity and telecommunication devices, and low levels of literacy. Much of the research conducted in emerging countries is face-to-face interviews due to the limitations in technological capabilities.
In conclusion, conducting global market research in emerging countries is challenging but not impossible. Face-to-face methodologies are a good first start. Look to nonprofit organizations for preliminary data before trusting government statistics. Prepare in advance, learn the culture, acknowledge the limitations and seek out local resources. Monitor political situations closely and try to obtain government support for your project at the start.