For market researchers, 2016 was one for the record books. Election poll predictions were an epic fail. Historic demographic shifts rocked traditional models. And we’re still arguing over the definition of Total Market. It’s fair to say that the market research industry is in dire need of some soul searching. And as a researcher myself, I’ve done a little of my own and have come up with three Hispanic market research predictions for 2017:
I touched on this in a recent article and 2016 confirmed my suspicions. Two factors have significantly impacted the untimely demise of Hispanic acculturation, the first being the slowdown in U.S. Hispanic immigration. Immigration, which in the 1980s and 1990s was the primary driver of Hispanic growth, began to slow in the mid-2000s. And since 2009, in the case of Mexico, immigration shifted back toward Mexico. Consequently, the main driver of Hispanic population growth shifted to U.S. births in which acculturation becomes less valuable a segmentation tool.
The second trend, made clear in the 2016 election cycle, is the lack of a cohesive home culture for Hispanics to acculturate to. This cultural fragmentation blindsided many multicultural researchers as reliable acculturation segmentation models became less relevant. Acculturation assumes that there’s a host culture to “acculturate to.” But if that host culture is fragmented, what are Hispanics acculturating to?
This revelation has sparked greater interest in the cross-cultural model, and it looks as though it will become even more relevant in 2017.
This year, we saw a flurry of Hispanic segmentation models arise, everything from Hispanicity to Fusion. But what are those models telling us?
Taking a step back and looking at what segmentation means and the value it brings, we see that it is intended to divide the marketplace into parts, or segments, which are definable, accessible, actionable, and profitable. In other words, most companies would find it difficult to target the entire Hispanic market because of time, cost and effort limitations.
Looking back at the 2016 segmentation models, we see that some may have lost sight of their practical implication by creating models that were more interesting than actionable.
As the relevance of acculturation wanes and cross-cultural models begin to take hold, the value of variable segmentation models are being called into question, making the understanding of culture beyond segmentation critical.
As content marketers say, “Content is king.” Well, culture is “queen” because the understanding of culture drives your content strategy, and ultimately influences consumer behavior. And if you haven’t already noticed, the importance of culture is underlying in both of my previous predictions and will be the difference between success or failure for companies and brands looking to succeed in a cross-cultural world.
From a research perspective, detaching culture from ethnicity will be the key to unlocking actionable insights in 2017. Since the inception of multicultural marketing as a concept, ethnicity has been a proxy for cultural affinities. With an increasingly cross-cultural society, this symbiotic relationship is crumbling. Ethnicity does not necessarily equal cultural affinity and understanding that as market researchers and marketers will help unlock new insights that are not only interesting but more importantly, actionable.