Problems in analyzing and interpreting research information

Once data have been collected, the final steps in the research process are the analysis and interpretation of findings in light of the stated marketing problem. Both secondary and primary data collected by the market researcher are subject to the many limitations just discussed. In any final analysis the researcher must take into considerations these factors and despite their limitations produce meaningful for management decisions.

Accepting information at face value in foreign markets is imprudent. The meanings of words, the consumer’s attitude toward a product, the interviewer’s attitude, or the interview situation can distort research findings. Just as culture and tradition influence the willingness, so the information and they also influence the information given. Newspaper circulation figures, readership and listener ship studies, retail outlet figures and sales volume can all be distorted through local business practice. To cope with such disparities, the foreign market researcher must possess three talents to generate meaningful marketing information.

First, the researcher must possess a high degree of cultural understanding of the market in which research is being conducted. Analyze research findings, the social customs, semantics, current attitudes, and business customs of a society or a sub segment of a society must be clearly understood. Indeed, at some level it will be absolutely necessary to have a native of the target country involved in the interpretation of the results of any research conducted in a foreign market.

Second, a creative talent for adapting research methods is necessary. A researcher in foreign markets often is called on to produce results under the most difficult circumstances and short deadlines. Ingenuity and resourcefulness, willingness to use catch as catch can methods to get facts patience a sense of humor and a willingness to be guided by original research findings even when they conflict with popular opinion or prior assumptions are all considered prime assets in foreign marketing research

Third, a skeptical attitude in handling both primary and secondary data is helpful. For example, it might be necessary to check a newspaper pressrun over a period of time to get accurate circulation figures or to deflate or inflate reported consumer income in some areas by 25 to 50 per cent on the basis of observable socio economic characteristics. Indeed, where data are suspect, such triangulation through the use of multiple research methods will be crucial.

These essential traits suggest that a foreign marketing researcher should be a foreign national or should be advised by a foreign national who can accurately appraise the data collected in light of the local environment, thus validating secondary as well as primary data. Moreover, regardless of the sophisticated of a research technique or analysis, there is no substitute for decision makers themselves getting into the field for personal observation.

Responsibility for Conducting Marketing Research:

Depending on the size and degree of involvement in foreign marketing a company in need of foreign market research can rely on an outside foreign based agency or on a domestic company with a branch within the country in question. It can conduct research using is own facilities or employ a combination of its own research force with the assistance of an outside agency.

Many companies have an executive specifically assigned to the research function in foreign operations he or she selects the research method and works closely with foreign management, staff specialists and outside research agencies. Other companies maintain separate research departments for foreign operations or assign a full time research analyst to this activity. For many companies, a separate department is too costly; the diversity of markets would require a large department to provide a skilled analyst for each area or region of international business operations.

A trend toward decentralization of the research function is apparent. In terms of efficiency, local analysts appear to be able to provide information more rapidly and accurately than a staff research department. The obvious advantage to decentralization of the research function is that control rests in hands closer to the market. Field personnel, resident managers, and customers generally have a more intimate knowledge of the subtleties of the market and an appreciation pf the diversity that characterizes most foreign markets. One disadvantages of decentralized research management is possible ineffective communications with home office executives.