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.
Bilingual and bicultural Latino Americans often serve as “digital sherpas,” or guides, for foreign-born family members who have yet to master the American ethos and language. Navigating the intersectionality of both U.S. and Latino value systems, these interpreters often inform brand and product purchases, search, and content consumption for friends and family members from an early age. These “digital sherpas” wield their authority at many points in their lives by influencing purchase decisions and demystifying new technologies and services.
Market research has traditionally been more reactive, “reinventing the wheel” with each new client request, resulting in new trackers and survey instruments. Extracting accurate multicultural insights from these methodologies are difficult to obtain, as most surveys aren’t designed to attract or engage ethnic audiences. Market researchers must include more multicultural developers in the research design and development process to solve this problem. Diversifying your team will help organically eliminate survey bias and add more culturally relevant perspectives to questionnaires and other data collection methods.
Multicultural consumers comprise about 40% of the U.S. population and are important to brands searching for growth outside of saturated markets. Essential to penetrating this consumer group is understanding the nuances of it. Sample providers fulfilling census-representative sample requests or requests for multicultural sample, in general, must build out their panels to include multicultural perspectives from a broad spectrum of respondents across ethnicity, gender, income levels, and other factors. This ensures they obtain functional insights into the diversity of attitudes, interests, and lifestyles that define this multifaceted consumer.
At 13% of the U.S. population, Black Americans are key drivers of mainstream cultural trends. From music to sports, fashion, and the latest Tik Tok dances, the influence of Black American culture is evident in almost every facet of daily American life. But unlike other multicultural groups, African Americans are often still treated as a monolith by marketers. Faulty sampling methods and inadequate segmentation give marketers an inaccurate view of the Black American experience. And while social justice movements have pushed the needle of change forward for D&I initiatives, the complexities and nuances of Black American subculture are still widely misunderstood.
Multicultural audiences are significantly driving mainstream identity and influencing emerging trends. According to UM’s Annual Cultural Dimension study, two out of five general population consumers indicate being influenced by Latino, Black, and Asian segments when it comes to passion points like music, fashion, hair care, food, sports, and more. As consumer behavior shifts in response to cultural identity and increased exposure to cultural norms via the internet and social media, brands work overtime to cultivate relationships steeped in the remix culture, which is primarily defined by a mindset, not the consumer. This paradigm shift is changing the fabric of what we know today as American culture.