International user studies: How companies collect and present data about users on international markets

Lene Nielsen, Sabine Madsen, Iben Jensen, Heidi Hautopp, Line Mulvad

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisReportCommunication


In this report, we present the results of a research project about international user studies. The project has been carried out by researchers from the Center for Persona Research and –Application, The IT University in Copenhagen and the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University in Sydhavnen, and it is funded by InfinIT.

Based on a qualitative interview study with 15 user researchers from 11 different companies, we have investigated how companies collect and present data about users on international markets. Key findings are:

Companies do not collect data about end users in all the countries/regions they operate in. Instead, they focus on a few strategic markets.

International user studies tend to be large-scale studies that involve the effort of many both internal and external/local human resources. The studies typically cover 2-4 countries/regions and many end users in each country/region.

The preferred data collection method is field studies. If possible, user researchers choose to go to the field themselves to gain rich insights and to control the data collection process.

The main insights companies gain from international user studies are (1) that there are many similarities among end users across nationalities and (2) that it often is more important to focus on and take differences in market conditions into account than national culture per se.

Companies are in the process of finding out how best to present the insights about international end users to their employees. However, so far, no best practice for incorporating both national cultural differences and cross-cultural similarities into persona descriptions, segmentations, etc. has been found.

Based on the empirical findings, we outline a maturity model. The empirical maturity model consists of two separate dimensions that delineate a company’s general attitude and approach to (1) international markets and (2) user studies. Lastly, we present the theoretical ideas and concepts about culture that has informed the research.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages30
Commissioning bodyInnovationsnetværk for IT - InfinIT
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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