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7 Steps for Successful Qualitative Projects in Remote Markets

7 Steps for Successful Qualitative Projects in Remote Markets

As the world becomes increasingly connected, the ability to understand and engage remote markets will be a critical skill for both researchers and businesses.Remote markets are regions that are geographically distant or culturally distinct from the researcher’s own. These could be rural areas within a country, emerging markets in developing nations, or culturally unique regions that present their own set of challenges and opportunities. For researchers, these markets hold untapped potential, offering a wealth of information that can drive innovation, strategy, and growth.

Why is it important to conduct research in remote markets?

It’s crucial to remain competitive in a global marketplace where your rivals are already expanding into international territories. More importantly, it offers the opportunity to unlock insights and opportunities from communities and people outside of your immediate environment.In the realm of qualitative research specifically, when applied to remote markets, qual research offers invaluable context for the lived experiences, values, and motivations of individuals within international communities.However, when qualitative research is heavily based on recording and deriving insights from subjective human experiences, how can researchers be sure they are able to accurately interpret insights and understand the complexities of human behavior, cultural nuances, and market dynamics?Even with the right tools and technology, conducting remote research across new communities from a home office is no easy feat. Uncovering and understanding authentic and accurate insights in remote markets is arguably even harder.Successful qualitative research projects in diverse remote markets require precise strategies. Here are seven essential steps every researcher should follow when conducting qualitative research in remote markets.

1. Define Clear Objectives

First and foremost, it’s crucial to establish clear research objectives. When collaborating with others online, it’s easy for teams to “lose track of the plot” of research projects in the midst of limited communication, misinterpretations, and, misalignment of information and processes.Organization and structure are key to accuracy, efficiency, and combatting inter-team confusion. Clearly defined objectives will guide your research design, methodologies, and analysis to ensure that your study remains focused and relevant.Before beginning any research methods, be sure to ask:
  • What exactly is the goal of this research?
  • What insights are you looking for?
  • What is being investigated? Consumer behaviors, cultural attitudes, or product usage patterns?

2. Collaborate with Local Partners

Collaborating with local partners, such as researchers who are cultural experts, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of qualitative research in remote markets.In addition to providing valuable insights into the focus area or community of a research project, local partners can facilitate participant recruitment and help navigate cultural and logistical challenges to help remote research teams produce meaningful and culturally relevant insights.For example, in a two-way briefing process, research teams can engage with local research experts to gain feedback on market norms, tips, and early-stage screening to prevent potential delays, cost overruns, and other obstacles encountered when working with limited local input.Additionally, conducting fieldwork with local partners leverages their expertise to execute studies and gain the insights you need while adhering to cultural norms. Your local partners are a valuable asset in understanding and executing your project’s needs while managing to adjust techniques, guides, and the original methodology to best work in a global context.

3. Choose the Right Research Methods

To land the right insights, you need the right research methods. Not all qualitative practices yield the same optimal results – especially in the context of remote markets.Do the groundwork to investigate potential challenges and benefits of differing qualitative research methods in relation to relevant cultural norms and sensitivities, language barriers and communication styles, and accessible technology.Common qualitative research methods include online interviews, focus groups, online ethnographic studies, and digital diaries. Each method has advantages and limitations – choose the one that best fits your research objectives and the characteristics of your target market.

4. Get Aligned on Technology

Online research platforms, video conferencing tools, and mobile apps are all useful for overcoming geographical and logistical barriers – but they are most impactful when teams and participants are aligned on which tools to use. Some regions and markets are not that used to using Zoom or have slower internet connections, other generations may be less tech-savvy or have access to technology.

5. Prioritize a ‘Human Touch’ for Remote Research

Ensure a comprehensive understanding of the nuances and complexities inherent in qualitative research by taking an active role in observing and testing uncovered concepts. It can be tempting to fall into an ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach to online qualitative tools, where professionals over-rely on digital and AI platforms to complete much of the research processes for distant fieldwork locations.While it’s great to witness so many new online research platforms and tools make research more accessible and possible – it’s essential that you are mindful of maintaining a balance between leveraging these tools and preserving human insights in qualitative research.

6. Prepare in Advance for Multilingual Moderators and Reports

Understanding how to navigate a language barrier–while employing moderators who speak the local language is crucial, finding experts who can record detailed and nuanced insight reports in another language is an entirely different challenge.Important notes to keep in mind when preparing for a multilingual study and collaboration:
  • Translation Time and Cost: Remember that translating reports can be a costly step and revisions may consume additional time and resources.
  • Cultural Nuances: Understanding the cultural context in which your moderators operate can help you set realistic expectations and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Expertise Over Convenience: Opt for experts who can provide high-quality translations and culturally relevant insights, even if they come at a higher cost.

7. Prioritize Data-diversity

Conducting research across different markets is all about embracing diversity in data insights. Connecting with individuals in remote research offers unique opportunities to understand the intricacies of different cultures. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that cultural nuances can significantly influence research outcomes.Make it a habit to compare and contrast findings through cross-cultural analysis to leverage diversity of thought effectively. Ensure your reports spotlight regional disparities to gain a comprehensive depiction of the market terrain. Local partners can also offer insight into cultural intricacies that are important to take into account when deciphering data accurately. 

A final note

With preparation, cultural sensitivity, and the right combination of methods and tools, qualitative research in remote markets can offer innovative opportunities for deeper insights into diverse communities and business potential.Remember: success in qualitative research in remote markets lies in so much more than data collection, but in understanding and interpreting data within the right context.