One of the most important steps in carrying out market research is obviously identifying who your market is – and then ensuring that you don’t waste time researching anyone else. Lots of products and services have very specific demographic targets, based on age, gender, or even more esoteric qualifiers like favourite film genre or make of car.
In fact you might need to target your audience based on any criteria at all – and this is where screeners come in: a document, or script, with a series of prescribed questions, allowing researchers to ensure the person or group are qualified to take part.
Given the importance of this first step in your research group, it’s vital that both researcher and respondent understand each other fully, which is why it’s important to have a professional translator to localise the screener – just as with other aspects of your research, whether it a focus group survey, one on one conversations, or an online questionnaire.
You may not have considered one of the other advantages of having a native-speaker translating or delivering your material though: the fact that market research involves a high degree of human interaction which can skew the results heavily for certain products. To quote Ian Malcolm in The Lost World – whatever you study, you also change.
It’s repeatedly been found that, when approached to take part in market research, members of the public are far more likely to respond, and answer honestly, to certain types of researchers. If you are seeking the views of teenagers, you are more likely to find they engage with a young person than an older one, and a woman may only be willing to speak openly about certain products with another woman.
In the same way, certain accents are more likely to elicit a response than others: in the UK, call centres based in Newcastle, which has an accent regarded as ‘friendly’, are more likely to get a response than those based in Birmingham or the South East. And if you’re conducting a call in a foreign country, chances are that even a fluent speaker may not get results if they don’t sound like a native – not to mention they may fail to pick up on subtleties in the response.
All in all, the best and most neutral strategy when you’re investigating overseas markets is to ensure you use all the resources open to you, including professional and qualified localisation services.