Understanding Global Customers: User Experiences at Home and Abroad
When companies conduct business in the international marketplace, they often need to modify products, services and technologies. While this can be a challenge, understanding the subtle patterns in ethnographic and market data can reveal exciting breakthrough ideas that can drive the growth of international business and generate more revenue.
One error that many companies make is thinking globally, but at the same time losing sight of their local ecosystem. While the breadth of their efforts is wide, they don't delve deeply enough into what makes each local market unique. Even when companies conduct some type of research before entering new global markets, they tend to rely on secondary research or make assumptions that may or may not prove to be accurate.
Consider this example: Many organizations simply created a .com website for English-speaking markets. They expected all English speakers to use the same site, even though there are subtle language differences in the way that consumers in the U.K. and Canada shop. Today, the trend is to set up a .com site for U.S. consumers, and at the same time create country-specific websites that are more culturally in-tune with the specific characteristics of other English-speaking countries.
Another example of differences between global markets is the divide between East and West. In the West, consumers are generally comfortable using the internet for all kinds of transactions, including making purchases with a credit card. In contrast, consumers in the East are reluctant to use the internet for transactions for several reasons. Internet infrastructure isn't as developed as it is in the West, and online security issues are more difficult to tame. Asian consumers prefer to close online sales face-to-face. While they may order goods online, they'll pick them up at a local store and pay in person.
The ways in which consumers respond to one-on-one interviews also differ along the East-West divide. Western consumers are generally more individualistic and unafraid to give honest responses to customer satisfaction surveys or interviews. However, Asian consumers don't wish to stand out or offend anyone. They're more likely to tell an interviewer what they think he or she wants to hear. As a result, interview data in Asian countries is often skewed and inaccurate.