Sunday, March 13, 2011 Marketing Research Blog
A glance at global marketing research by Hanjin Yu, MBA 2012

In today’s global integration, many enterprises are developing their international markets. Marketing research is an efficient tool to help corporations better understand these markets and make effective strategies. However, global marketing research isn’t running on a flat road. There are charms – exploration in another culture and trying to find connections between the exotic tradition and your products; there are pains as well – application/implementation always requires trial and error and a great deal of patience on details. Karin Peterson, the global director of consumer research from Kimberly Clark, shared her experiences on global marketing research at one of our current topic classes.

Global research is an eye-opening experience. A lot of things are what you’ve never seen and you’ve never even thought about. Identifying the different influencers under different cultures is an indispensable part of global research. The difference sometimes isn’t that intuitionistic. Karin mentioned the toilet culture in a couple of Asian countries. Squat toilet is widely used in some Asian countries, though you may also find western-styled toilets in their public restrooms. In Japan, the western-styled toilet is equipped with some electronic buttons on one side of the toilet seat – these buttons are for bidet washing, seat washing, toilet flushing, etc. Toilet is just a small reflection of different local culture and belief, but you might already get shocked here. Given people across the world are so different, we, as marketing researchers, may not take it for granted before looking into local cultures. Focus on things we don’t know and not just confirm those we already believe.

Doing global research, you need to cooperate with people from different cultures. Culture difference sometimes results in distinct work style. You need to understand what your counterparts really mean through the words or poses. People in some countries may always respond with “H’m” (a way to express agreement/admit in eastern Asia) during meetings. However, they went back doing things in their own way. I don’t mean to judge it’s good or not. I believe every nation has its own trait, which is a heritage from their culture/society development and influence the behaviors of people in that community from generation to generation. Understanding the difference and finding a way to better work with that culture can us proceed more smoothly.

Global marketing research contains uncertainty, difference and even conflicts, but it is also an adventure full of novelties and discoveries.

- Hanjin