Many multinational companies wish to test new product concepts in multiple countries around the world to determine appropriate product launch strategies. But how can one compare the results between countries without being misguided by the fact that not all cultures interpret and use survey scales identically? A concept that has a higher score from one country than another doesn't mean it is really more desirable in that country. How does one interpret multiple country test results with any sense of confidence?
With a focus on new product forecasting for durable products and services, Ipsos-Vantis tests over 700 concepts a year, about a third of which are conducted internationally. As part of that testing process, specific questions are databased for future reference. Examples of questions databased include purchase interest in the concept, how much the concept is liked, the perception of value for the concept, how unique the concept is, and how likely the concept is to fulfill a need, among others. These questions have been translated for each country in which research has been conducted and the results have been added to an ever-growing database.
What have we learned from doing this? A lot. While there is no single solution for comparing results from country to country or from measure to measure, by defining a testing tool that is consistent from country to country, building a database to store these differences, and through the systematic analysis of these data, a reasonable assessment of multinational research can be made. Following is an example of this approach.
Methodology We first ranked the concepts from most preferred to least preferred for each measure within each country. Then we compared the scores from other countries to the scores from the U.S. by percentile. For example, we compared concept scores that represented the 90 th percentile (10 percent of the scores higher and 90 percent lower) from one country to the American concept scores that represented the 90 th percentile. This approach allows us to match test scores for better concepts from one country with test scores for better concepts from another country, and likewise for poorer concepts. We do not have to worry about one concept being well received in one part of the world and poorly received in another; the results are based on what is relevant within each country. The findings are displayed by region, based on concepts in our database that have scores either below average, average, or above average.
Purchase Interest Measures One of the most important measures is purchase interest, shown in the chart below. The results reveal that Canadian scores tend to score below American scores, but that the relative difference is fairly constant regardless of where the concept falls in our database. The UK, France, Germany, and Asia also have relatively lower purchase interest scores for concepts that are below average when compared to the U.S., but that difference appears to shrink for concepts that are above average. For both Italy/Spain and Latin America, the purchase interest scores tend to be higher than that of the U.S., with the difference decreasing as we move from below average concepts to above average concepts.
Average Liking Measures
For another one of our most important measures, average liking, there are some similarities to purchase interest. Again, Canadian scores tend to be lower than American scores, and the relative difference remains pretty constant for below average and above average concepts. Likewise, the UK, France, Germany, and Asia all index lower than the U.S. for average liking, with a decreasing trend from below average concepts to those above average. On the other hand, Spain/Italy and Latin America display the largest deviation from what was seen with purchase interest scores. Spain/Italy has lower scores for price value compared to the U.S., but purchase intent scores are higher. Again, the deviation becomes smaller as the scores become better than average. In this category, Latin America displays little difference from the U.S.
Price/Value Measures The final example is for price/value. The results of price/value scores are not as consistent as the purchase interest and average liking scores. For example, Canada still has lower scores than the U.S., but average scores tend to index lower than below average scores. While France and Germany continue to display similar price/value patterns as purchase interest and average liking, the UK and Asia tend to have more consistent scores. Italy/Spain also displays lower scores for price/value, but the difference tends to shrink as the concept score increases. Latin America, however, displays a completely different phenomenon: compared to purchase interest scores, price/value averages tend to be lower than the American scores.