The balance between global and local solutions

14 March 2023

Devising solutions that have both a global and local impact

7 min read
7 min read

The Insight250 spotlights and celebrates 250 of the world’s premier leaders and innovators in market research, consumer insights, and data-driven marketing. The inaugural list was revealed in April 2021 and the 2022 winners were announced in Toronto last September at ESOMAR’s Annual Congress. The awards have created renewed excitement across the industry whilst strengthening the connectivity of the market research community. The 2023 Winners will be announced as part of the celebrations for International Market Research Day in May. 

With so many exceptional professionals named to the Insight250, it seems fitting to tap into their expertise and unique perspectives across various topics. This weekly series does just that; inquiring about the expert perspectives of many of these individuals in a series of short topical features.  

This edition features Nichole Gu, Managing Director for Asia at Behaviorally. We discuss the importance of devising solutions that have both a global and local impact and need to have a broad perspective, along with an intent focus on markets. 

Working on a global and local scale in your role, what has your experience shown you about how the insights industry adapts regionally?

“I've seen that the industry adapts regionally by considering cultural nuances and preferences, language differences, and varying regulations and laws. This requires a deep understanding of the local market and the ability to tailor research methodologies and approaches accordingly while staying innovative and on the cutting edge utilising the latest and greatest tools available. Additionally, successful insights professionals must have a willingness to be flexible and open-minded when working across different regions, as what works in one market may not be effective in another. Ultimately, a strong understanding of regional differences is key to delivering valuable, actionable insights across a global organisation.”

Nichole Gu

Why is it so important to understand the local customs and gather learnings in the different regions?

“Understanding local customs and gathering learnings in different regions is essential for the insights industry because it allows researchers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience's cultural nuances and preferences. This, in turn, enables researchers to tailor their research methodologies and approaches to the local market, ensuring that the insights they gather are relevant and actionable. 

“Moreover, local regulations and laws can vary significantly across different regions, and insights professionals must be aware of these differences to ensure their research adheres to local guidelines. Failure to do so can result in legal and reputational risks for the research agency and its clients. Data quality is a common question and issue that is arising, especially with the introduction of AI.”

Nichole Gu

How do you ensure the quality of insights throughout the local markets when delivering them to your clients?

“It’s essential to have a rigorous quality control process in place. This process should include steps such as verifying data accuracy, ensuring that research methodologies are appropriate for the local market, and validating findings with multiple sources. It's also important to have experienced and knowledgeable insights professionals who understand the local market and can provide valuable insights based on their expertise. Additionally, regular communication with clients throughout the research process can help ensure that their needs and expectations are being met and that the insights being delivered are actionable and relevant to their business goals, answering their key business questions.”

Nichole Gu

What are some of the challenges of providing global insights yet balancing the local, and regional learnings? How do you overcome those challenges?

“Providing global insights while balancing local, regional learnings can be challenging, as it requires researchers to reconcile sometimes conflicting data and insights from multiple regions. For example, consumer behavior in one region may differ significantly from that in another region, which can make it challenging to provide actionable insights that apply globally. Additionally, language barriers, cultural differences, and regulatory issues can make it difficult to collect consistent data across regions. 

“To overcome these challenges, it's important to have a team of experienced researchers who understand the nuances of each local market and can identify commonalities across regions. It's also essential to have a flexible research solution that can adapt to the unique needs of each market while still gathering data that can be compared and analysed across regions. Effective communication between the research team and clients can also help ensure that insights are relevant and actionable and that clients understand the limitations and breadth of the research findings. By taking a strategic and collaborative approach, researchers can deliver valuable insights that balance global perspectives with local market learnings. I’m so proud to be at Behaviorally, where we have been rapidly growing our global footprint to meet our client’s needs. By having hubs throughout the globe, we can understand these challenges and find the solutions to help our clients on a wide scale of marketing business questions.”

Nichole Gu

What are some innovation or retail trends you see within Asia that other regions would benefit from knowing about?

“Asia has always been at the forefront of the rise of e-commerce and new retail, especially the increasing popularity of mobile payments and social media. In China, for example, mobile payments have become ubiquitous, with many consumers relying on platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay to make online and physical purchases. Additionally, there is a growing trend towards using AI and machine learning to enhance the customer experience, from personalised recommendations to virtual assistants that can answer customer queries. These innovations are also now infused in our research solutions to help parse through more data rapidly – faster than we were able to before. Overall, the Asian market is driving significant innovation and growth in the retail sector. Keeping a close eye on these trends can help companies in other regions stay ahead of the curve.”

Nichole Gu


Last week was International Women’s Day, what should our industry do more to empower women in the insights profession?

“To empower women in the insights profession, our industry should promote gender diversity and inclusion across all levels of the organisation. This can involve implementing policies and practices that support work-life balance, such as flexible working arrangements, paid parental leave, and career development opportunities. It's also important to provide mentorship and networking opportunities to women in the industry, to help them build their professional networks and access new career opportunities. Additionally, companies can work to eliminate bias in recruitment and promotion processes and ensure that women have equal access to training, development, and leadership opportunities. By taking a proactive approach to gender diversity and inclusion, our industry can create a more equitable and supportive workplace for women in the insights profession.”

Nichole Gu


“My top tip for others in the insights industry is to stay curious and never stop learning. The insights industry is constantly evolving, and keeping up with new methodologies, technologies, and trends is essential to stay ahead of the competition. By staying curious and continuing to learn, you can develop new skills, build your expertise, and deliver greater value to your clients. This could involve attending industry events, participating in training programs, reading industry publications, or simply keeping an open mind and seeking out new opportunities for growth and development.” 

Nichole Gu

As Nichole points out, there’s an increasing need to have a broad global view with market research to understand the strategic needs of the business and evolving trends of industries. However, it is also important to maintain a sharp focus on local tendencies and preferences to understand and mirror nuances and shifts in markets in real-time.

nichole gu Nichole Gu is the Managing Director for the Asia region for Behaviorally where she oversees the business across the company’s hubs in Singapore, Shanghai, Dubai, Sydney, and Melbourne. Previously, she held numerous senior positions at prestigious regional insights firms, including Kantar (including TNS & Research International) and other agencies.
Crispin Beale
Senior Strategic Advisor at mTab, CEO at Insight250, Group President at Behaviorally