Breadth and Scope of International Marketing Research

A country’s political stability, cultural attributes and geographical characteristics are some of the kinds of information not ordinarily gathered by domestic marketing research departments but which are required for a sound assessment of a foreign market. This broader scope of international marketing research is reflected in Unisys Corporation’s planning steps, which call for collecting and assessing the following types of information:

Economic: General data on growth of the economy, inflation, business cycle trends, and the like profitability analysis for the division’s products; specific industry economic studies, analysis of overseas economies; and key economic indicators for the United States and major foreign countries.

Cultural, sociological, and political climate: A general non-economic review of conditions affecting the division’s business. In addition to the more obvious subjects, it covers ecology, safety, and leisure time and their potential impact on the division’s business.

Overview of market conditions: A detailed analysis of market conditions that the division faces, by market segment, including international.

Summary of the technological environment: A summary of the state of the art technology as it relates to the division’s business, carefully broken down by product segments.

Competitive situation: A review of competitors’ sales revenues methods of market segmentation, products, and apparent strategies on an international scope.

Such in depth information is necessary for sound marketing decisions. For the domestic marketer most such information has been acquired after years of experience with a single market but in foreign markets this information must be gathered for each new market.

There is a basic difference between information ideally needed and that which is collectible and / or used. Many firms engaged in foreign marketing do not make decisions with the benefit of the information listed. Cost, time, and human elements are critical variables. Some firms have neither the appreciation for information nor adequate time or money for implementing of research. As a firm becomes more committed to foreign marketing and the cost of possible failure increases, however, greater emphasis is placed on research. Indeed marketing research expenditures reflect the size and growth of markets around the world. Please see Exhibit below for listing top markets for international marketing research.


Top Countries for Marketing Research Expenditures (millions of dollars)

United States $6,660
United Kingdom $1,997
Germany $1,805
France $1,580
Japan $1,164
Italy $581
Finland $113
Denmark $106
Taiwan $81

The Research Process:

A marketing research study is always a compromise dictated by limits of time, cost and the present state of the art. The researcher must strive for the most accurate and reliable information within existing constraints. A key to successful research is a systematic and orderly to the collection and analysis of data.

Whether a research program is conducted in New York or New Delhi, the research process should follow these steps:

1) Define the research problem and establish research objectives.
2) Determine the sources of information to fulfill the research objectives
3) Consider the costs and benefits of the research effort
4) Gather the relevant data from secondary or primary sources or both.
5) Analyze, interpret and summarize the results
6) Effectively communicate the results to decision makers.

Although the steps in a research program are similar for all countries, variations and problems in implementation occur because of differences in cultural and economic development. Whereas the problems of research in England or Canada may be similar to those in the United States, research in Germany, South Africa, or Mexico may offer a multitude of difficult distinctions. These distinctions become apparent with the first step in the research process – formulation of the problem. and some of them are frequently encountered difficulties facing the international marketing researcher.

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