International Marketing Research

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V. Kumar, University of Connecticut

A company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The advertisement was a poor choice since animals are considered to be a form of low life and no self respecting Thai would wear anything worn by animals (Payne, website). Could the company have known about this before the product launch in Thailand? Why did the company fail in spite of coming up with a trendy and fashionable product? The reason for the company’s failure in Thailand was that they did not identify themselves, advertising in this case, with the Thai culture and totally misjudged the social customs of Thailand. The company could have been more knowledgeable about this had their information from international marketing research been accurate. This is not an isolated case, but stems from one of the many idiosyncrasies that exist in the markets around the world. Some of the idiosyncrasies for select regions are listed in Table 30.1. Table 30.1 about here In this chapter, we first define international marketing research and find out about the major players in the industry. Then, we move on to see how international market research is done, the various methods of data collection, the biases and scales involved in data collection and know how data is interpreted from one country to another.


What Is International Marketing Research?
International Marketing Research (IMR) can be defined as market research conducted either simultaneously or sequentially to facilitate marketing decisions in more than one country (Kumar, 2000). The process calls for studying the various market characteristics for facilitating marketing decisions that can be taken across countries. The studies deal with tracing the various components that are responsible for the marketing the product.

So How Is It different from Domestic Marketing?
The process of international marketing research though involves the same disciplines as domestic research, has some differences compared to its domestic version. The major differences are •

The national differences between countries arising out of political, legal, economic, social and cultural differences and,

The comparability of research results due to these differences.

National Differences
The main factors that affect the way in which people from different cultures behave are: a. Cultural Differences: Culture refers to widely shared norms or patterns of behavior of a large group of people. It is defined as the values, attitudes, beliefs, artifacts and other meaningful symbols represented in the pattern of life adopted by people that help them interpret, evaluate and communicate as members of society. The need for greater cross cultural awareness is heightened in our global economies. Cross cultural


differences in matters such as language, etiquette, non-verbal communication, norms and values can lead to cross cultural blunders as illustrated by the following marketing mix: Product: A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had six-pointed stars on it. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it. Another label was printed in ten languages, one of which was in Hebrewagain the Arabs did not buy it (Payne, website). Price: An American firm was trying to get an acceptable price for their product from a Japanese buyer. The Americans presented a very detailed presentation and offered what they felt was a reasonable price. After a few moments of silence, the Americans thought the Japanese were going to reject the offer so they lowered the price. There was more silence by the Japanese. The Americans then said they would lower their price one last time and that this was the lowest they could go. The Japanese accepted this offer after a brief silence. The Japanese later said the first price was within an acceptable range, but it...
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