South Africa is emerging as a gateway to the rest of Africa’s markets; its market research industry is seen as highly developed and established and can be compared with the standards of other Western markets.
Despite this sophistication, there is an understanding of the needs of the grassroots level of the market and the challenges of doing research in a multicultural society. “We can speak the language of the ‘haves’ while understanding the world of the ‘have nots’,” says Matthew Angus of KLA.
We all have anecdotes concerning surprises in Asia, Africa or some other exotic locale, but in Western Europe we tend to believe that we are quite similar to our immediate neighbors.
But similar does not mean the same: There are differences.
Even when you can’t see the people you are communicating with online, you can pick up on their non-verbal communication cues — if you know what to “listen” for.
The harnessing of smart phone and internet technology among the vast base of ‘below middle class’ households of emerging markets is an acid test of innovation in qualitative research.
Interviews conducted in the usual home ethnographic manner yield surface information. Self-administered video recordings and cell phone pictures, taken by family members, on the other hand, yield amazing insights.
Managing time across cultures and languages is important. Some languages and cultures are faster, others slower. If you design in a “fast” language, you need to allow more time for “slow” languages.
Cultural differences between markets – even when all are predominantly English-speaking – can be large and important for marketing success.
Words matter in qualitative research since the goal is to elicit well-described experiences and emotions, as well as understand the reasons behind actions. This is best done when respondents can communicate in their native language.
Mobile technology is helping transform research projects from stand-alone, project-based studies to a continuous research process.