Doing business in the global marketplace can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider – cultural differences, tricky time zones, communication, legal requirements, and logistics. When it comes to finding the right research partners, how do you know who best fits your needs? And once you've found partners you like, how do you make sure they're the real deal with proven global experience?
Here are five ways to vet your global research vendors and suppliers:
Check their references. Talk to other companies/colleagues in the industry that have used the vendor's market research services. Ask about their experience and whether they would recommend the vendor. Alternatively, go on directory listings like Greenbook.org or ESOMAR.org and look for testimonials or reviews.
Look at their case studies. A good research vendor should be able to provide examples of successful projects they've completed for other clients. This will give you a sense of their research capabilities, data collection methodologies, what kind of deliverables they can supply, and whether they're a good fit for your needs overall.
Compare services. Get quotes from several vendors and compare what they're offering in terms of price, services, and coverage area. Do any of them specialize in your category/segment? Can they recruit a highly specific sample if needed? Make sure you get answers to these questions in the proposal to understand what you're getting for your money.
Expertise in a geographic region. A great vendor is going to be an extension of your team. Not every project is going to need the same demographic or geographic representation, so you may need a global research partner with experience in various locations on whom you can rely 100% when it comes to the screener, recruiting, choosing a data collection method, and conducting your study. This might even mean that you’ll have to look for new partners on the go. Familiarity with the local market and culture is essential for quality insights.
Speed and quality. Research projects are more often time-sensitive than not. Product launches cannot afford to be delayed because of the preliminary market research. Find out how quickly the vendor turns around deliverables, but be sure that they don’t sacrifice quality for speed. A great way to test this is to ask for a proposal and then request a few revisions. See how responsive they are to your feedback and whether they're able to make changes without disrupting the timeline or budget.
BONUS: Meet them in person. If possible, arrange an in-person meeting or video call with the vendor so you can get to know them better. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for their level of expertise and professionalism. It also helps to alleviate the "stranger" feeling and build a more tight-knit business relationship.
Doing global research is a complex process, but working with the right partner can make it feel like a walk in the park – and guarantee success. So take your time, do your homework, and find the shoe that fits. Good luck!