International research and archetypes
When archetypes as a theoretical foundation of meaning are part of a qualitative research effort internationally, it is critical to align each country's researcher with the theory, understanding, and use of these legendary, metaphorical themes. Also, archetypal material such as visual or mood boards, when used for qualitative research internationally--from U.S. through Europe into Asia--must be individually localized for regional symbols, metaphors, personas, and meaning. European symbols are different from Asian, which are different from American. Yet, the archetypes themselves hold throughout the world.
Archetypes are highly productive to gain deeper emotional resonance with a category or brand; however, the regional researcher who is coming upon the subject of archetypes for the first time must understand the foundation of what archetypes are, not treat them as ads, and needs to use them skillfully in focus groups or quads to elicit greater motivation and personal attraction from the panelists.
On this global trip for a major brand repositioning, spanning Paris, Warsaw, Hamburg, Shanghai, and now Shenzhen in China, I am feeing happy and encouraged with the use of archetypes to gain deeper meaning and understanding of local issues. Important caveat: The lead researcher who is handling the overall qualitative project must spend a significant amount of time and effort in training each new regional researcher who is working in her own language with that city's respondents.