Cross-cultural Market Research

There are two posts, both by Greg Timpany over at cvent, that I’d like to draw your attention to today. Both posts are on the subject of conducting cross-cultural market research; a topic which I think we all (most of us, at least) need to learn a great deal more about.

The first: Likert Scales in Global Research: One Size Does Not Fill All. The question posed – Are scales developed in North America valid for global use?

From the article:

Research reported in the January 2011 issue of Quirk’s delves into the variations in how people across cultures respond to question types and response options. The author’s research indicates that how a Likert scale is presented can yield different results within and between cultures. The implication is that the method in which questions and their response options are formulated can affect study outcomes.

The second: Survey Response Bias Amongst Hispanic Respondents. As Greg points out, “If part of your research program includes surveying consumers of Hispanic descent then there are well-documented cases of response bias which must be accounted for, especially if comparing the data to non-Hispanics. Most notably is the increased use of extreme scale points.”

I think these two articles speak to a critical topic that isn’t getting enough attention. As we break away from more traditional methods of collecting data (phone surveys, etc.) and look towards channels with much broader geographic and demographic distribution (social media, for one), it’s critical that we consider how our survey instruments must change to account for this diversity. Check out Greg’s two articles on the subject, and let us know your thoughts. Also, be sure to share any other articles, posts, etc. that you’ve been reading on the subject!

About Joshua Hoffman

Joshua Hoffman is Technology Specialist at Microsoft and a frequent contributor to Research Access.


  1. I fully agree that cross cultural research has not been adequately discussed let alone understood. You will find a couple of entries on the subject relevant to this discussion on our blog ( where I expand on some of the linguistic and other challenges facing marketers across cultural boundaries.

    Nicos Rossides
    Group CEO, MASMI

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