Latino consumers continue to outpace the general market in technology use. This trend is driven primarily by the youth of this demographic. Nearly six in ten Hispanics are Millennials or younger, and Gen Z is the first majority-minority generation. These generations are digital natives and thrive on the mobile experience, which impacts how they interact with e-commerce, social media, and entertainment. More specifically, Hispanics over-index on e-commerce, especially among Hispanic Millennials, many of whom are bilingual, living in multigenerational households. They act as “digital sherpas,” interpreting the purchase experience for Spanish-dominant loved ones.
While Latinos over-index on using certain technologies, such as smartphones and social media, broad adoption of video conferencing apps and other online platforms being used to accommodate the shift from in-person to online qualitative research is not as prevalent. Over the last few months, market researchers have been tasked with helping multicultural consumers understand these tools so they can share their thoughts and opinions in qualitative studies. However, the technology being used to administer online qualitative research is often designed for the moderator’s comfort, not the respondents. For multicultural consumers, especially Hispanics who prefer face-to-face interactions, this presents a challenge.
In 2011, we took to pen and paper to ideate an amalgamation of terms to name our market research company and carve out our industry niche. A year before, the 2010 Census came out. It was clear that the Hispanic population in the U.S. was growing, and companies and brands needed to take notice of this bourgeoning consumer group. More than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was due to an increase in the Hispanic population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Hispanic population grew by 43% during that time. By 2010, Hispanics comprised 16% of the total U.S. population.
The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital for many industries, including market research. More specifically, qualitative research. In-person focus groups and face-to-face in-depth interviews (IDIs) have been replaced by online research methodologies that enable consumers to share their thoughts and attitudes from the safety of their homes. Essential to the success of online qualitative research, however, is the respondent experience. Selecting virtual platforms that are user-friendly yet effective reduces the friction that can result in respondent frustration and subsequent disengagement.
Linguistic anthropology dives into how people use language to create culture, enact different identities, tell stories, and create relationships. But language is continuously changing. In the U.S., Hispanics are becoming more English dominant. Spanish speakers or descendants of Spanish speakers are encountering a different linguistic experience as language evolves to meet the needs of Hispanics in the present day. The Spanish language has been influenced by the American ethos resulting in a hybrid language, known as Spanglish, which sits at the intersection of language (Spanish and English) and culture.
Humans, in general, use metaphors to assign meaning to various aspects of our lives. By creating images in our minds, we make sense of the world around us and form associations that guide our behavior. Those associations can be aspirational, pushing us to pursue a certain status, or protective, warning us to steer clear of perceived danger. Understanding those associations is essential for marketers to activate consumer groups and deliver engaging content that meets them where they are. To do this, marketers can look to metaphoric research to analyze deep metaphors shaping the human psyche.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion took center stage in 2020, with many brands rushing to restructure internal teams and re-evaluate advertising campaigns in response to calls for social justice. There was a cultural shift among the general population. Multicultural consumers became the focal point, and forward-thinking brands responded by creating culturally relevant marketing that appealed to multicultural consumers. But the relationship between the brand and the multicultural consumer extends beyond the register to those running the register.
U.S. consumers adjusted their expectations last year as COVID-19, social injustice, and contentious presidential and senatorial races sent the country into a tailspin. Given the unprecedented disruption, the findings of our sixth annual ThinkNow Pulse™ Report, a national survey examining consumer sentiment across key demographics in the U.S., are especially relevant as marketers scramble to get a pulse on the post-pandemic consumer. Fielded in December 2020, Americans report worsened personal finances and a perception of a weakening economy, and the outlook for 2021 didn’t fare much better.
Latin American brands often feel overly confident in entering the U.S. market. Having experienced success in their home markets, they look to replicate that brand affinity north of the border, often using the same strategy that won at home. But, that affinity doesn’t always translate into a successful entry, especially when brands fail to realize and plan for the shift from a mostly homogeneous cultural group to a more diverse society composed of varied multicultural backgrounds, cultural influences, and behavioral drivers. The tendency of LatAm brands to target their core Hispanic constituency can cause missed opportunities to reach broader markets.
Across industries, the pandemic has radically altered the way we conduct business and communicate. Market research is no exception, with social distancing requirements prompting innovation in online survey instruments, panel selection, focus groups, and other data collection methods to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spread. Despite this year’s challenges, 2020 has also presented new opportunities for market researchers to pivot and connect with one another, clients, and respondents in more authentic ways. Digital tools like webinars, online chats and surveys, and a resurgence of traditional practices like conference calling and phone intercepts facilitate new networking and collaboration prospects and provide greater access to panelists.