Bridging the Cultural Gap with Hispanic Panelists

October 29, 2015 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

For better or for worse, online research panels have evolved (or devolved…) into a transactional marketplace between the research company and the panelist. There is no connection to the company from the respondent perspective and there is no personalization. As a respondent the only communication you receive from the panel is via email, and it is never a warm email just an iteration of take this survey for this many points…not even a thank you.
I’m not placing judgment on this practice as it seems to be working and has been for the past decade, but this paradigm is definitely not applicable to Hispanic panelists, and more specifically Spanish-dominant and less-acculturated panelists.

Hispanic panels are a relatively new phenomenon. Previously I worked at a market research company where I built what came to be one of the first nationally representative Hispanic panels in the country. My background was not in research, rather it was in online marketing and I think that background helped me in constructing the first successful Hispanic opt-in online research panel.

Now at ThinkNow Research we have our own panel It is a culmination of all of our learnings from building the first nationally representative Hispanic online opt-in panel and three other major panels currently in the research marketplace.

Here are three tips we’ve learned that will determine how successful a Hispanic panel is, and subsequently, how successful your Hispanic sample project will be:

  1. Human Connection - Research companies have to have a person behind the panel. General market panelists are typically familiar with the concept of online panels and understand what is expected of them. Panels targeted towards Hispanics are a generally new practice and less-acculturated Hispanics specifically tend to be more guarded with their personal information. Creating a human connection with Hispanic panelists is crucial in building their trust in order to be in a position to educate them on the ins and outs of being a panelist, and ultimately getting them to share personal data with your panel.
  2. Beyond Email – Email as the sole mode of communication with Hispanic panelists doesn’t cut it. We have integrated welcome calls within 24 hours of our panelists registering as well as reactivation calls when panelists seem to be losing interest in the panel. This has helped keep our retention rate up as well as boost our completion rates. Hispanics tend to have a need for a more human connection and phone helps us create a bond with our panelists that isn’t achievable with email alone.
  3. Television Recruitment – Our core audience, Spanish-speaking Hispanics, have internet access but are not necessarily browsing the web in a way where they would be intercepted by a traditional online ad. In order to create a nationally representative sample, you have to go beyond online advertising into television advertising. This allows us to get a unique, hard to reach panelist, while providing a quick overview via a TV ad on what a panel is and what a panelist gets from it.

Culture profoundly impacts the way a respondent answers a survey, furthermore it impacts the way a respondent interacts or doesn’t interact with an online opt-in panel. Make sure you have a conversation about how your Hispanic sample provider is catering to this specific demographic as it can greatly impact the quality of your client’s data.