Data Quality: Fail-Safe Control Methods for Multinational Market Research

It's clear that quality data is crucial for the success of any market research. However, in multinational studies, this factor becomes even more critical. 


With multiple countries involved, ensuring quality data and reliability becomes a complex task. Cultural, idiosyncratic, and methodological differences between regions can impact results if the right controls aren't applied. 


That's why it's essential for research agencies to implement fail-safe control methods to ensure data quality in their international projects. Techniques such as process standardization, standard quality protocols, and seamless client communication become indispensable. 


In this post, we will explain in detail the challenges and best practices in internationally scoped research. We will also discuss why data quality is even more crucial in this context. 


Data Quality in Market Research: National vs. Multinational 

As we know, market research is a systematic process aimed at gathering, analyzing, and delivering quality data to provide valuable insights into a specific market, product, service, or consumer. 


However, every research study is inherently different, whether due to its objectives, methodologies, or the research context. Each project has its unique challenges to face during development. 


This distinction holds when comparing national research to multinational research. There are certain differences and challenges between these types of studies that extend from planning and execution to ensuring quality data and interpreting results. 



What are the most common obstacles between both? 

1. Coordination and Communication Complexity

  • National: Coordination and communication tend to be more direct and agile. Teams can work closely due to geographical proximity and few or no cultural barriers. 
  • Multinational: Involves coordinating teams and resources distributed across different countries and time zones. Effective communication becomes a challenge, leading to workflow delays. 

2. Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

  • National: Cultural and linguistic differences among the sample and working teams are generally more homogeneous. This facilitates questionnaire adaptation and research approaches. 
  • Multinational: Project managers here must deal with considerable cultural and linguistic diversity. Ensuring studies are correctly localized is essential for data quality.

3. Data Quality Standards

  • National: Typically based on local regulations and standards, simplifying the task of ensuring data quality. 
  • Multinational: When conducting multinational research, quality data standards must be unified to ensure the study meets acceptable criteria in all involved regions. Clearly, this implies greater complexity in management, as compliance with local regulations must also be considered. 

Special Considerations for Multinational Research 

Now, aligning expectations is a key factor for the success of any multinational research. This implies having a common goal and a clear strategy between the client and the research agency. In this process, it is essential to respect and adhere to established agreements as they mark the starting point and the course of the project. 


In addition to this, there are other aspects to consider, such as: 


Understanding and Adapting to Different Markets 

As mentioned earlier, each country or region has its own characteristics, habits, and preferences. This is especially true in regions like Latin America, where the same product can have different names depending on the country. 


Global Vision and Comparability 

On the other hand, the unity of results should allow for comparison between different countries or regions included in the study. To achieve this, it is important to use a consistent and homogeneous methodology that allows for comparable and representative data. 

International panel provider


Standardization of Processes for Achieving Higher Data Quality 

Standardization of processes is a way to organize and manage activities in market research. Regardless of whether it is national or multinational, it is a way to ensure the quality of collected data. 


Especially when the main challenge in international research is in the area of processes, as multiple players are involved, these become more complex to conduct. Therefore, the standardization process involves defining and documenting every step taken in the research project, including responsibilities, resources, timelines, and criteria to be followed in each stage of the project. It covers everything from design to delivery. 


Some examples of how standardization can be implemented are: 


  • Creating a manual or guide that describes the process with specific details, including objectives, scope, methodology, schedule, budget, roles, and responsibilities of each participant. 
  • Using technological tools to manage and monitor project progress, as well as to share and store information and documents generated at each stage. 
  • Establishing mechanisms for frequent and effective communication and feedback involving all project participants, using appropriate channels and respecting time and cultural differences.  
  • Defining quality and performance indicators to evaluate and improve the process. 



Benefits of Standardizing Processes for Data Quality 

Certainly, implementing a series of measures that lead to process standardization in multinational research brings several benefits, including: 


Increased project efficiency and productivity

By optimizing the use of available resources, helping to avoid delays and unforeseen issues. 


Improved customer satisfaction 

Provided expectations and needs are met, along with agreed-upon data quality standards. 


Greater replicability and comparability 

Ensuring that the same steps and criteria are followed in each country or region. 


Don't Miss: The Data Provider as a Complement to Your Research Agency 


Other Control Methods to Ensure Data Quality in Multinational Data Collection 

Harmonization of Quality Standards 

In line with process standardization, the harmonization of quality standards also plays a fundamental role. As mentioned, each project is different, so it is necessary to have well-defined standards that will govern the project, considering the aspects applicable in each country or region. The aim is to establish a standard criterion that helps meet the specificities of each geographical area. 


Continuous Communication Flow 

While it is widely recognized that communication is crucial for the success or failure of any project, it is even more so when it comes to multinational research. In these scenarios, working closely with the client, ensuring a continuous and transparent flow of communication to promptly convey both progress and potential obstacles that could jeopardize the project's progress is essential.  


  • Proper communication ensures the project flows optimally. 

In addition to the mentioned methods, traditional practices such as pilot testing research instruments or ongoing training and supervision of involved personnel should not be overlooked. All of this contributes to ensuring the collection of high-quality data.


In conclusion, we can say that conducting multinational market research involves significant challenges in ensuring the quality of collected data. Careful process standardization, harmonization, and constant communication among teams. 


In this context, having an experienced data provider is invaluable. 


At Netquest, our extensive international presence in over 20 countries grants us genuine knowledge of each market we serve. Furthermore, our rigorous quality standards, globally aligned processes, and over 20 years of experience in online methods make us an ideal partner for multinational research. 


If you aim to enhance data quality and reliability in your international studies, do not hesitate to contact us! 

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