What is International Marketing Research

With the fast pace of globalization, the necessity to understand customers in all corners of the globe is becoming imperative. Hence, overcoming the challenges of international marketing research is rapidly gaining in importance in multinational organizations. Information needs are changing and becoming more complex and diverse in a hypercompetitive environment in both developed and developing countries.
Traditional markets in developed economies are now increasingly becoming geographically integrated as direct vertical links and information flows are established between customers, retailers, and suppliers. Consequently, it is imperative to conduct research spanning country boundaries in order to examine the differences between the regional and global market segments.
According to ESOMAR in 2008, the international marketing research turnover was $24.6 billion in 2007, representing a growth of 6.8 percent over the previous year, and a net growth of 4 percent, when adjusted for inflation. The fastest expansions were among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries, all experiencing double-digit net growths, along with 19 other markets in the world. Latin America was the fastest growing region with a sharp increase in growth at 17.1 percent (11.3 percent after inflation), accounting for well above $1 billion in revenues. The growth rate remained stable in Europe at 5 percent (2.8 percent after inflation), and in North America at 6.6 percent (3.4 percent after inflation).
Online research has grown dramatically in the last decade, and is now the fastest growing methodology with a total spending of around $3 billion in 2007, an increase of 14 percent over the previous year. The largest absolute increase took place in the United Kingdom (UK), the second largest national research market, where online spending almost doubled. The major reasons for the rapid growth of this methodology are speed of delivery and low costs. The most successful companies using this method are mostly focused on providing analytical services to meet client needs, differentiate offerings, and benefit from the ensuing competitive edge.
Most of the worlds market research is conducted in Europe with a turnover of $10.6 billion (43 percent market share), followed by North America $8.9 billion (36 percent), Asia Pacific $3.53 billion (14 percent), Latin America $1.22 billion (5 percent), and the Middle East and Africa $.39 billion (2 percent). The largest country markets (growth) are in the United States with a turnover of $8.23 billion (+6.6 percent growth), followed by the UK at $2.4 billion (+2 percent), France at $2.2 billion (+2.5 percent), Germany at $2.2 billion (+5 percent), and Japan at $1.4 billion (+4.3 percent).
The global marketplace is in transition rapid developments in mass communications technology and global and regional media such as CNN, MTV, CNBC, etc., have apparently created a homogenization of expectations and preferences. It is imperative to collect relevant information to validate such assumptions as whether or not teenagers in a particular market do indeed share similar interests in fashion, music, films, and sports as new trends and related products are rapidly diffusing through the global media. The expansion of modern retailing worldwide incorporating point-of-sale (POS) scanner technologies, and modern merchandising practices have also facilitated the collection of syndicated scanner data in many more countries in the globe. The rapid growth of malls has made it possible to conduct mall intercept interviews. Nevertheless, international marketing researchers also have to address the problems of availability and the use of secondary data in many underdeveloped markets, and the reliability, validity, and the comparability of data across various markets.
International marketing research continues to be driven by a shift in focus to emerging markets, which are increasingly becoming the industry’s growth engines, in synchronization with the growing force of globalization. The major research firms within the industry continue to broaden their client base, which seek to outsmart their competitors by identifying the most lucrative opportunities and targets for investments. The most intense competition for market share of research services continues to be in the most mature markets, which enjoy stable overall market growth. The international research firms continue to expand their analytical and consultancy services and growing their innovative products.