Before the internet age, qualitative research was much more difficult to conduct because of the requirements especially if the target markets are global. Global marketing research can benefit from information and data collected from a variety of sources worldwide, but these are difficult to plan and organize, not to mention a requirement to travel to the location of these audiences as well as prohibitive costs. However, conducting the global qualitative research online makes it easier for companies to interact with their target consumers. For example, focus group discussions need not be conducted in person because they may be done online. Usually, particularly for international companies, it is challenging for marketing researchers to plan focus groups with participants who are widely dispersed in terms of geography. Online video conferencing solves this issue, allowing the participants to interact with each other, and allowing the researchers to see the reactions of all participants. Another challenge which may be surpassed are the different schedules of participants. In online bulletin boards, this is no longer a problem. One can simply conduct an asynchronous online bulletin board where participants may post messages at their most convenient time. The approach can also be changed at any time, and the mode of the delivery of questions can be adjusted. For example, questions may be posted one at a time or all at once for the members to answer at their own leisure. Respondents may be contacted individually and privately. They may post their answers privately if the participants wish, which means that the responses are more likely to be richer and more descriptive, further enriching the data for analysis. People may become more responsive and committed to the research because they can allot time for it and respond to questions at their own pace unlike face to face focus groups. Another benefit of the online global marketing research is a shorter time frame of gathering information. Because everything is instantaneously documented online, researchers may make initial observations, recommendations and conclusions based on the data collected. This means that the collected feedback can be immediately interpreted via available downloadable transcripts and may be shared with the stakeholders of the company. Finally, it must be stressed that this methodology is very economical for the company because there are no travel costs. Only video streaming and data transcription is needed for video conferencing, and online bulletin boards only require a website.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ron Jacobsen writes about marketing research services and shares his ideas on how the internet is changing the marketing research industry. Civicom is a global leader in supporting the marketing research industry offering the latest in marketing research software and tools for facilitating IDIs and focus groups, and mobile qualitative marketing research projects.