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Quick 5-step checklist for multi-market studies

When running international projects, it can be tempting to use the same recruitment criteria and discussion guide that was used in the home market. It might even work with a few bumps. Will you get the same quality insights, however? Probably not.

Nikki Lavoie EVP, Innovation & Strategy 14 October 2022
When working in less familiar markets, you get to be a double-learner – you learn from your users and also your partners with market expertise.

Our global research expert team have been to the most remote markets for fieldwork, whether in-person or online. We also know most researchers are tasked with handling the majority of the workload to reduce cost and increase knowledge and buy-in from findings across their organisations. 

So how can you execute research across vastly different geographical and cultural locations while still maintaining high levels of quality and consistency? If that’s a question you find yourself asking, read on.

To make multi-market studies as successful as possible, we’ve compiled this quick 5-step checklist to help you acknowledge your potential cultural blind spots. You can also download it as a handy PDF here.

1. Start with the lowest common denominator

In-home interviews might be appropriate in one market, but not in another. Perhaps one market is less technologically advanced or logistically complicated than another. It’s better to know this before the project begins and compare apples to apples. You should design your research for the most “difficult” audience because that method will surely be feasible elsewhere. 

2. Confirm recruitment criteria, market segments, and screeners

You’re definitely the expert in your product/brand, but are you the best suited to know how to find your ideal users? You might think certain segment criteria will help us find great research participants, but each target market is different. Check with experts before you start!

3. Know whether people are being articulate

In our mother tongue (and in familiar cultural contexts), we usually feel confident in understanding if someone is being genuine and thoughtful in their responses to interview questions. In other languages? Probably not so much, unless you’re at a near-native level. Long answers don’t always equal articulate ones. Otherwise, the term “blabbermouth” would have never been coined. 

4. Put what you’re hearing in context

Maybe you’re hearing consistent feedback on a particular aspect of the study or each participant expresses strikingly similar views. You will probably wonder if the recruitment pool is too homogenous or if you’re asking questions in a leading way. Before you get too internally frenzied, schedule a conversation with someone on the ground to ensure you fully understand any cultural undertones that may be expressed.

5. Verify that next steps are viable

Partners specialized in global research can help to prepare you for risks, warn of non-appropriate practices and ensure that your next steps and recommendations will be successful in new markets. 

+1 Bonus step: Make the most of your adventure!

If you’re doing research in person, it’s also worthwhile to get cultural hotspot recommendations (including where to eat) from partners in order to immerse yourself in the local scene and get attuned to the different aspects of the culture.


When working in less familiar markets, you get to be a double-learner – you learn from your users and also your partners with market expertise. You can be an even more effective facilitator and researcher by acknowledging the gaps in your knowledge of local cultures and building on your existing market understanding.

Cultural nuances might be tricky but global research doesn’t have to be. The global research expert team at Savanta has also put together 13 Golden Rules of Global Research to help you to connect with audiences from all corners of the planet. Download the guide or reach out to our experts here.