Lost in Translation: How Western (mis)conceptions of Asian markets impact market research

David Bakken
KJT Group, USA
Sue Siewert
GE Healthcare, USA


The last decade has seen phenomenal growth in market research activity in emerging Asian markets. Many leading companies based in developed countries have turned to these markets to find new opportunities for growth. This is true for manufacturers of medical devices such as diagnostic imaging equipment, including GE Healthcare. These markets present an enticing target for these companies. McKinsey (Atsmon, Child, Dobbs and Narashimhan, 2012) reports that emerging Asian markets account for 16% of global GDP, but only 8% of these leading companies' revenues.

Growth in market research spending in these markets provides further evidence of the increased importance of the region. According to the ESOMAR 2012 Global Research Report, total research turnover for the Asia Pacific region has reached U.S. $5.75 billion (17% of total global MR turnover). Bangladesh exhibited the greatest year over year increase, with turnover growing by 35.7%. Other emerging Asian markets showing considerable growth in that period include Laos (15%), Sri Lanka (9.8%) and Indonesia (9.1%).