Many of us have heard or perhaps even live by the familiar adage, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” But ignorance is not bliss. A lack of knowledge can be devastating. That’s true in life and advertising. Just like a moth drawn to a flame, brands are attracted to things they don’t fully understand. This “fatal attraction” often results in poor outcomes. A classic example of this is a botched approach to multicultural marketing.

Culturally tone-deaf advertisements. Misplaced investments in well-meaning social impact campaigns. These are, however, just two common faux pas that sideline even the most beloved brands when trying to make connections with multicultural consumers in the U.S.

Multicultural market researchers attribute many of these mistakes to the lack of multicultural research being conducted by companies and brands. But the evidence doesn’t support that. Many of the companies getting it wrong are doing multicultural research. In fact, they are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to understand multicultural consumer preferences. So where is the disconnect? How do some brands fail so miserably despite investing heavily in multicultural research? It is a matter of selective sampling bias.

Selective Sampling Creates Bias

The fast-growing multicultural population in the U.S. has made it increasingly difficult for market researchers without multicultural expertise to create nationally representative sample plans.

Look at the Hispanic population in the U.S. Despite having over 20 countries of origin, many market research companies create sample plans that include Hispanic sample but fail to account for the diversity in countries of origin. These countries may share a common language, but their traditions, values, food, music, and even linguistic variations of Spanish require sample plans that account for the U.S. Hispanic population’s heterogeneous nature.

Furthermore, many market research companies tout the use of “neutral” Spanish, merely translating an English questionnaire into Spanish to be used across the spectrum of Latinos in the U.S. With many brands researching specific use cases, the search for a neutral Spanish is an illusion. Some abstract concepts require specific Spanish words used in specific Latin American countries.

Let’s look at one more example. With over five languages with 1 million speakers or more, researching the U.S. Asian American population creates complexity in sample plans often overlooked to expedite insights.

Sampling Bias Decreases ROAS

Overlooking the nuances in these two groups alone can lead to insights that are not actionable. And, even worse, companies making decisions on off-target insights. The result is diminishing returns on ad spend and irreparable damage to the brand among these key consumers.

Working with a market research company that understands these complexities improves the research experience and its effectiveness. More importantly, your brand will get insights to make lasting connections with the fastest-growing consumer segments in the U.S. today.