In today's global economy, companies—across all industries—have found it necessary to expand their operations beyond their country's borders. These expansions have led to a more culturally diverse and international
work force. As a result, we often find ourselves leading research projects for Mexican marketers in the Middle East or for American teams in Brazil, the UK, and Germany. Focusing on the flawless execution of international
research isn't enough to be successful. You also need to be mindful of the way in which you share global insights.
In our experience, there are 2 key components every storyteller must keep in mind while delivering insights across borders: cultural context and timing.
The common denominator that will lead to success in any scenario is the understanding of cultural context.
When sharing global insights, it's critical that you understand your audience. It's no secret that in countries like the US, Germany, the UK, and Japan, the key to influencing audiences lies in communicating insights
in a formal and straight-forward manner, with an emphasis on quantitative data. This same style could be disastrous in Latin America, as Latin Americans favor a more casual style. Insights are typically communicated in
a less formal, more circular way. Additionally, executives in Latin America are more likely than their counterparts to embrace qualitative data.
Also, make sure you take the time to fully understand the cultural context of the insights you'll be sharing. We all know that the same word can have a different meaning in different countries. Well, the same is true for
market research insights.
Let's take the word "news" for example. Suppose a marketing campaign centered on the idea of news does very well in the US and the local marketing team proposes using the same campaign globally. They may not be
taking into account that the word "news" has several meaning. In countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan, news is strictly connected to a news outlet like The New York Times, CNN, or Reuters.
On the other hand, in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, the concept of news is much broader, and may include local events and incidents that happen on a neighborhood level. Therefore, a global marketing strategy
around "news" that doesn't take into account the cultural context and meaning of the word, is a risky approach.
Timing – When To Discuss The Numbers
Determine if the numbers should be the opening or second act of your presentation, to make it most powerful.
Insights based on strong data are undoubtedly a critical element of ensuring that your research is influential, and has a lasting impact. Although executives across the globe will always look at the numbers before making a
final decision, most executives in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina can only be influenced after they have found a personal connection to the research and the storyteller, often via qualitative research. That
means, it's up to us, the researchers, to find a narrative within the data that will connect all parties involved. Only after this connection has been established is it appropriate to dive into the quantitative numbers.
Alternatively, in US, Germany, and Japan, qualitative insights are generally most persuasive when they are supported by numbers. Imagine your team is trying to share qualitative findings around why Hispanic consumers will drive
growth for a specific brand. Verbatim comments most likely will not convince marketing executives to dedicate advertising dollars to Telemundo or Univision. Now, if these same qualitative insights were delivered after straight-forward quantitative results, the outcome would most likely be much more positive. For instance, leading the conversation with: "Hispanic consumers could account for 30% of growth in the next five years"
or "The cost of inaction could be up to $2 million dollars in the next 3 years" will likely get the attention of everyone in the boardroom.
So remember, when you're sharing global insights… make sure you understand the cultural context of what you're sharing and know when you should discuss the numbers.