Companies en masse stepped up in 2020 decrying racism in America. But have those public declarations resulted in systemic changes in their diversity and inclusion practices, and how are consumers responding to those changes? To answer that question, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative survey of Americans to understand the impact of companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion and how consumers voice their approval or disapproval of those companies with their wallets.
The symbiotic relationship between data and storytelling has emerged as a powerful tool for diversity and inclusion initiatives within companies. Post-2020, organizations are now prioritizing D&I under mounting pressure from employees and other stakeholders demanding representation within the workplace, product and service offerings, and marketing and advertising. Storytelling is the catalyst for change. It creates intentional moments of intimacy that enable people to learn more about one another and appreciate similarities and differences.
It’s Pride Month! Every year, in June, LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide celebrate the freedom to be authentically and unapologetically who they are. City streets erupt in festive expressions of Pride as enthusiastic, and often costumed patrons attend parades, concerts, and festivals decorated with brightly colored rainbow flags, streamers, and confetti. But the celebration doesn’t just bring people together for a good party. Instead, it shines a light on an underrepresented community, like other minority groups, who have struggled to be seen, heard, and included for generations.
A few years ago, the concept of autonomous vehicles captivated consumers. While the technology has progressed tremendously, most self-driving experiences are still limited to driver assistance, partial automation, or conditional automation. Innovation develops over time. Compare that to the emergence of mobile sample. Ten years ago, it was the most significant innovation in the online sample industry. Mobile sample was discussed in every conference from 2010 to 2016. Despite the buzz, however, mobile sample didn’t immediately catch on. The technology existed, but brands resisted the change in survey methodology. But that started to change in 2017.
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 shift in American attitudes toward social justice and inclusivity following George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests has prompted some companies to consider creating targeted messaging for multicultural consumers. Consumers are paying more attention than ever to how companies navigate social and racial justice issues and reward brands that align with their values. Getting it right, though, can be a daunting task, even for experienced brand managers. The fear of offending consumers is often enough to prevent marketers from even attempting to create multicultural messaging. If done correctly, however, the benefits of targeted multicultural messaging outweigh the risks.
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.