The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Worlds apart

International research. Don't you just love it? Particularly when groups don't perform as national stereotypes suggest they should.

Malaysia: Women were outspoken, assertive and confident despite being veiled, shouting each other down in groups. They possessed mobile phones, sometimes several, and controlled the household purse-strings.

Sweden: Teenagers were surprisingly cynical and critical about what we showed them, even though they generated enthusiasm in other markets. They seemed to be above all trends and not at all easily pleased.

Hong Kong vs Shanghai women: Females felt too embarrassed to admit they drunk alcohol in Hong Kong. In Shanghai, by contrast, they were far more upfront, Westernised and liberated.

New York: A breakfast group of First Class fliers were asked their reasons for first class travel. One dazed looking respondent replied: "People at the airport give you a parcel to take, then hand you a first-class ticket. I often get upgraded that way!" Yeh, man.

Lagos: A respondent came in and saw a white man. Thinking I was full of powerful ju-ju and able to steal his soul, he ran out of the room with me in hot pursuit. This panicked him still more and he jumped from the second floor.

US: An overheard phone conversation between recruiter and respondent: "We can offer you $100 if you're a frequent flyer on Tuesday at 7pm, $50 if you drink lager on Friday at 6pm and $150 if you're a member of a private gym on Tuesday at 5pm. What d'ya wanna go for?"

France: Simultaneous translator went on strike in protest at the (French) client slagging off the moderator and shouting swear words behind the mirror.

 

Naomi Canton
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2000