At Sylver Consulting, we approach all of our work with a problem-solving mindset. Any question or study that comes our way begins with a solid contextual conversation on what’s the end game; meaning how is our client intending to use the research findings to support future decision-making within their organization? And, as part of that conversation, we ask about what’s within scope vs. out of scope for future products or services that might be born from this research or overall initiative.
This contextual conversation — while in essence is the same on any project we do, domestic or global — does tend to get more interesting when you start talking Emerging Market (or Developing Market) research, as the number of unknowns being negotiated are plentiful. To help provide structure around these contextual conversations, we often find that we turn to the “Cross-Border Strategy” model (below) — which we have adapted from the “Marketing with PowerWeb” textbook.
This model — and the five questions we ask related to it — supports our team in understanding where our client is in mindset related to this initiative. This understanding, in turn, supports activities of project framing, related to both the design of the research and in the reporting of its insights and implications.
Our intent in using this model and asking the five questions below is simply to understand: How far is our client willing to go? At which point, does fear and pushback start to set in? Where is the “Do not cross” line?
So, let me explain how this works …
The model itself describes five strategic ways that a foreign company can enter a new market. On the y-axis you’ve got degrees of innovation that may occur to your market positioning and channels of distribution related to the offering. On the x-axis you’ve got degrees of innovation that may be required on the offering itself to make it relevant and meaningful within the local market. One thing to note related to this diagram … it assumes you’ve got a product or a category of products that you currently market elsewhere and need to make a strategic call on how much you try to repurpose the current offering (product or service) to a new market or create a wholly new offering for the new market.
Usually there is a lot of push and pull tension associated with this diagram and what it represents. Everyone wants the answer to be “extension strategy” because it feels the most comfortable and easily executable. However, so rarely does a pure “extension strategy” work. There are too many cultural and environment influences at play around the world to make that possible the majority of the time. More typically, an adaptation strategy is leveraged (one of the three presented), as this strategy takes a global offering and “glocalizes” it for the unique needs of the local market. On rare occasion, companies may enter a new market acknowledging that a wholly new offering is needed to succeed in that market and amongst the target consumers. Usually, however, the “offering invention” strategy is diverted to once a previous adaptation attempt has not achieved the success hoped for it.
So coming back to project framing … it’s important to figure out which strategies on this “Cross-Border Strategy” model are in-scope vs. out-of-scope for a project team in order to set the foundation for a successful research study. These are five questions that the Sylver Consulting team finds helpful in doing that:
1. What is the outer intention of this initiative for the organization? Meaning, which articulated goals will success of this project be measured against internally (i.e. financial goals, market penetration targets, etc.)?
2. What is your personal inner intention for this project? NOTE: This is not about the organization. This is about each member of the project team and what they personally hope this project means to the trajectory of their career, the legacy they leave behind, etc.
3. What do you hypothesize the solution or strategy to be? Why? What previous evidence — in the history of the organization or via other experiences — supports this hypothesis?
4. Which strategy feels too big and/or too wrong? Why?
5. What’s the long-term global plan for this initiative within the organization? How does that fit with the answers given to questions 3 and 4?
The answers to these five questions begin to set the mental frame associated with the initiative and its project team. This gives you, as the researcher, cues for both how to design the research and communicate its results and implications to the project team and their broader stakeholders. Successful study designs target studying the viability of the in-scope strategies (as perceived and articulated by the project team) with a little bit of stretch into the areas that feel uncomfortable as a means to test the viability of ingoing hypotheses.
If anything here struck a cord, we would love to continue the conversation on this model and its use. Please use the comments below to share what about this blog post has resonated for you.