Marketing managers have difficult jobs. They are expected to be psychologists, storytellers, salespeople, and fortune tellers. Engineers and product developers don’t understand why their fantastic products aren’t selling and blame marketing for not communicating how terrific they are. Unfortunately, having the best product or solution is often not enough because consumers typically don’t make purchase decisions rationally. They do so emotionally.
ThinkNow recently conducted a nationally representative survey of 200 Black men and 100 police officers. We asked them for their assessment of the current policing crisis and suggestions for possible solutions. It was important for us to limit our focus to only Black men and police officers because Black men are most affected by racial bias in policing and police officers are in a position to shed light on contributing factors. The full report is enlightening and can be used by politicians, activists, and law enforcement to enact change. The most compelling findings, however, are the responses given by Black men to a simple question: “What do you wish people in America understood about being a Black man?”
Hispanic voter turnout has historically been lower than that of non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans. The reasons for this vary from the relative youth of U.S. Hispanics and inconsistent outreach by political parties to a belief among many Latinos that their votes don’t matter. The COVID-19 crisis, however, may be the catalyst that drives change. Hispanics are being affected by COVID-19 disproportionally, both in terms of infections and loss of income. Upheavals of this magnitude are often followed by increased political activism. The Tea Party movement, for example, was launched by the Great Recession while FDR’s New Deal was born from the Great Depression.
During times of crisis, Federal contracts must be awarded as quickly and efficiently as possible. Federal contracting, however, is deliberately slow to ensure public funds are spent responsibly. There are, of course, contract vehicles that allow for quick awards during emergencies. But, these vehicles are generally limited to specific areas deemed critical when a disaster is declared. The pool of vendors who bid on these projects isn’t necessarily pre-screened, which would help determine their ability to meet the needs of the award.
Most people are surprised to learn that nearly 30% of U.S. Hispanics voted for Trump in 2016. Hispanics, it turns out, are not a homogeneous group. Over 50% are U.S. born with roots in 20 countries of origin, each with its own rich cultural and political heritage. The world, however, has changed considerably since 2016. Voters have a clearer idea of the president’s policy priorities and leadership style.
Education is often touted as the great equalizer that enables minorities from lower-income backgrounds to compete for a piece of the American Dream. Anecdotal accounts of Black or Hispanic children, from marginalized communities, “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” and achieving great success find their way into impassioned speeches from teachers to preachers, politicians to business leaders. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, tell a very different story.
At ThinkNow we have the privilege of working with large organizations in both the public and private sectors. We’ve found that contracting in the private and public sectors varies considerably, and for good reason. In the private sector, contracting is fairly straight-forward since decision-makers don’t need to justify their purchases beyond their organizations. When dealing with public funds, however, the process often requires multiple steps and oversight. This works well when specifications are known and need to be exact, like when purchasing a new military aircraft engine or hiring medical personnel to staff a hospital. But what if the requirement is data? The Government Buys Public Opinion Research The U.S. population has and continues to change. Rapid growth is occurring among the largest population segments, Hispanic and Asian Americans, as well as those who identify as multi-racial. While the federal government has a significant amount of data on the perceptions and behaviors of the historical population, the data fails to address the unique thoughts and habits of today’s constituents. This gap often necessitates that the government seek research and survey data much like companies in the private sector seek data before a product launch. For example, ThinkNow was instrumental in assisting the U.S. Army in gaining insights into how Hispanic and African American populations view career opportunities available in the uniformed services. We further assisted the Army in understanding the efficacy of the government’s advertising and marketing program. ThinkNow has also helped the Small Business Administration during rebranding initiatives, the State of California’s Healthcare Exchange, and multiple state-run lottery programs. Understanding the Federal Buying Process Let’s look at a typical scenario where the federal government determines the need to seek outside assistance to fulfill the
At ThinkNow we have the privilege of being able to work in both the public and private sectors, often on similar types of projects, and have noticed key differences in how they operate. Government agencies tend to be more procedural, with a clear chain of command, while private companies tend to lean into a more collaborative approach. Those differences are often necessary to the efficient operation of the organization or department but not always. The challenge for both is to break out of old mindsets and habits that hinder effectiveness.
In a perfect world, we would have the best information available at our fingertips when making decisions. But, that’s often not the case. While information is more accessible now than at any other time in history, it’s not always the right information. Missing or bad information could mean big mistakes when developing or measuring marketing campaigns. So, to mitigate the risk of missing the mark, many companies explore custom market research. But, accurate, actionable custom research requires knowledge, experience, and dedicated personnel to complete.
Steve Jobs was a genius. He could envision and bring to market revolutionary products that set the standards in their industries. He was also known for relying on his intuition over market research. Due to the success of Apple, many people subscribe to this logic and opt-out of conducting market research. But there was only one Steve Jobs. The marketplace is littered with failed products and services that seemed like a good idea to their creators and were rushed to market only to find that no one asked for or needed them. Complicating matters further is an unprecedented demographic shift towards multiculturalism that is changing the composition of the U.S. consumer market. In business, intuition can be useful, but it needs to be optimized by market research, especially when attempting to tap into diverse markets. If you’re not advising your clients to conduct market research, you are doing them a disservice as they don’t have the facts to make informed decisions about their marketing strategy.