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.
In 1954, Darrell Huff called out the dangers of misrepresenting statistical data in his book How to Lie With Statistics. I don’t know how big a problem bad survey data and misinformation was in the 1950s but if you fast forward to 2019, social media and 24-hour news cycles have created an explosion of content that purports to be factual. Chances are, a percentage of it is not, which is what I want to talk about.
“A rising tide raises all ships.” We’ve all heard that expression and many companies are hoping it’s true as the U.S. economy experiences the lowest unemployment rate and the longest period of growth in U.S. history. Under such circumstances, we could reasonably expect all our ships to be riding high, right? Not quite. In fact, many companies are struggling and wondering why they’re not experiencing the growth they believe they should be. As a consumer insights company that works across multiple verticals and consumer segments, we have a good vantage point from which to observe the rise and fall of the tides and the individual ships trying to stay afloat. Take a closer look and ask yourself these questions:
As a market research company with a robust multicultural practice, we’re often asked about how to market to Asian Americans. Often, clients have heard that Asian Americans are wealthier and better educated than other groups and they want to tap into these appealing consumers. However, when we walk them through the different country of origin groups and languages spoken, they’re often surprised by the variety and complexity within this market. One way to simplify the discussion is to look at shared cultural values and craft messages that can be adapted to various subgroups within the Asian American community.
With the success of Crazy Rich Asians many brand managers will decide that it’s finally time to start paying attention to this often-overlooked segment. They will find, however, that unlike the U.S. Hispanic or African American markets, there is little consensus as to how to market to Asian Americans. The problem begins with the moniker. Asian Americans are less likely to identify with a pan-Asian identity & more likely to identify with their countries of origin. This is partly due to the more recent immigration status of the majority of Asian Americans (59% are foreign born as compared to 34% for Hispanics) and the dearth of Asian American role models and cultural touchstones in popular media.