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The Impact of Online Sample on Cultural Marketing in the U.S.

The modern consumer has evolved. Today, they're not simply passive buyers but active cultural participants who engage with brands that resonate with their values, identities, and lived experiences. This shift has driven the rise of cultural marketing, a nuanced approach that seeks to connect with consumers through their cultural lens.

However, to truly comprehend this cultural lens, marketers must harness the power of market research to gather rich insights directly from consumers. Using online sample is among the most prevalent and efficient ways to gather these insights.

Cultural Marketing in the U.S.

America is a diverse nation, filled with many different cultures. This diversity presents both challenges and opportunities for marketers tasked with understanding how shared values, customs and beliefs shape people’s lives and influence consumer behavior. This cultural intelligence helps brands tailor their messaging, products, and services to resonate more deeply with specific audiences.

Benefits and Considerations for Online Sample

Online panels can help brands understand and target specific cultural groups. However, this market research tool isn’t without its challenges. Let’s look at the benefits first.

Benefits:

  • Accessibility and Cost-Effectiveness: Online samples are generally more accessible and cost-effective than traditional methods like face-to-face interviews or focus groups. This allows researchers to reach diverse cultural groups, even those geographically dispersed.
  • Targeted Insights: Researchers can design online surveys and tasks specifically tailored to understand the values, preferences, and behaviors of different cultural groups. This data can inform content creation, messaging, and distribution strategies.
  • Quantifiable Data: Online samples enable large-scale data collection, providing statistically significant results for better decision-making. This can be especially valuable for understanding niche or underrepresented cultural segments.
  • Participant Diversity: Online platforms offer access to a wider range of participants, potentially including individuals who might not otherwise participate in traditional research due to time constraints or social anxieties.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Sampling Bias: Online samples are not immune to sampling bias. If not carefully designed, they may overrepresent certain demographics, leading to inaccurate conclusions about specific cultural groups.
  • Cultural Nuances: Online surveys and tasks might not capture the intricacies of cultural attitudes and behaviors. Researchers must be mindful of language, design, and context to avoid misinterpretation.
  • Digital Divide: Not all cultural groups have equal access to the internet or digital literacy. This can lead to the underrepresentation of certain populations in online samples.
  • Ethical Concerns: Data privacy and participant anonymity are crucial considerations. Researchers need to ensure transparency and ethical data collection practices.

Overall, online sample is a valuable tool for cultural marketing when conducted by experienced market research agencies familiar with online samples’ benefits and limitations so data collection can be implemented with sensitivity and cultural awareness.

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Why Cultural Competence Is Critical In The Age of Multicultural Data

Programmatic media buyers know that multicultural audiences are a rapidly growing and vital market segment. However, advertisers also know that targeting these audiences can be challenging, especially for those lacking cultural competence. Cultural competence is essential for programmatic media buyers aiming to reach multicultural audiences effectively while avoiding costly mistakes. 

What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence is the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people from cultural backgrounds, values, and beliefs different from one’s own. While necessary for companies and brands aspiring to reach and engage multicultural audiences meaningfully,  cultural competence is essential for programmatic media buyers who rely on data-driven strategies to target their ads.  

The absence of cultural competence in the multicultural data era can have negative consequences for marketers, so it’s important to remember the following: 

  • Data can be biased. The data that programmatic media buyers use to target ads is often collected from various sources, including social media, search engines, and online surveys. However, this data can be biased, reflecting the biases of the people who collected it and the systems they used to collect and analyze it. For example, a social media dataset might be biased toward younger users, or a search engine dataset might be biased toward people interested in specific topics.  

Advertisers unaware of these biases could end up targeting ads to the wrong people or using offensive language in ads, risking the company’s brand reputation and alienating the target audience. 

  • Different cultures have different values and beliefs. What's considered acceptable in one culture might be offensive in another. For example, direct eye contact is considered rude in some cultures, while others assume that those who avoid eye contact are rude. It is important to be aware of the cultural differences between the target audience and advertisers to avoid causing unintentional harm that jeopardizes brand health.
  • Multicultural consumers are more likely to trust culturally competent brands. A study by ThinkNow found that 63% of multicultural consumers are more likely to trust brands that create ads that reflect their culture. When ads are culturally competent, they signal to the target audience that the advertiser understands them and respects their culture. This builds trust and loyalty, which can lead to more sales conversions over time. 

Programmatic Media Tips 

Wondering how to employ cultural competence when using programmatic media to reach multicultural audiences? Here are a few valuable tips:

  1. Be aware of your own cultural biases. We all have cultural biases, even if we're not always aware of them. So, the first step to becoming more culturally competent is awareness. To do this, consider taking a cultural bias assessment or talking with someone from a different cultural background. Then, embrace accountability.
  2. Research the target audience. Once you have acknowledged your cultural biases, thoroughly research your target audience. Delve into their culture, understanding their values, customs and belief systems. This can be accomplished by immersing yourself in books and relevant articles, conversing with people from the target audience and participating in cultural events. 
  3. Use zero-party data from a cultural research company. Zero-party data is voluntarily shared with companies and organizations by customers via surveys, online forms, applications, polls, etc. Cultural research companies can collect zero-party data from multicultural consumers that deliver insights about their culture. This data can inform programmatic media plans that result in culturally responsible advertising. 

By following these tips, advertisers can use programmatic media to reach and engage multicultural audiences respectfully and effectively.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.

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From Vision to Value, Creating Scalable Employee Resource Groups

Volunteer-led Employee Resource Groups aim to foster inclusion, belonging, and community among employees. An ERG with executive sponsorship, a clear vision, and shared values can increase employee engagement and be a vital component of a successful organization.

There are many different types of ERGs, and in recent years, organizations have focused these efforts on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Many of these groups center around employee populations disproportionately represented within an organization. Those tasked with leading these groups are the bridge between group members and organizational leadership. It’s a heavy lift, often without additional compensation, but it’s not without its benefits.

Participating in ERGs gives employees, particularly leaders of the group, access to various tiers of the org chart and opportunities to execute meaningful programming for persons who identify with those groups and the employee base as a whole. ERGs also facilitate professional development and the ability to showcase skills and capabilities, which can lead to job promotions and recognition. But key steps should be taken to launch and sustain an effective employee resource group.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Illianna Acosta, Senior Manager of Channel Sales and Global Co-Chair of LinkedIn’s Hispanic ERG, shares how Employee Resource Groups can be used to create an environment of inclusion and how to measure their impact.

About Our Guest:

Illianna Acosta has over 20 years of experience in AdTech, Partnerships, and Sales. Today, she is a Senior Manager at LinkedIn, managing Global AdTech Partnerships that accelerate innovation, revenue, and customer growth and the Global Co-Chair of LinkedIn’s Hispanic ERG. Illianna serves on the National Board of the 100 Hispanic Women Organization and is the Co-President of the Cornell Johnson School NY Alumni Organization. She is a sought out speaker on DEI topics and the author of “Lost In Translation,” an e-newsletter focused on highlighting challenges and limitations under-represented groups experience that have shaped them and how they show up in their personal and professional lives.

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Diversity In Market Research, Attracting the Next Gen

Attracting young, diverse talent to the market research industry is essential to its longevity. But this task has proven difficult to date, and it may be a matter of timing. Engaging younger generations in college could lead to greater interest in careers in insights. But that requires intentionality on the part of research companies.

Engagement is just half of the story, however. America’s youth are increasingly diverse. Gen Z is the first majority-minority generation. As they come of age and enter the workforce, they look to work for organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion. Recent findings show that 68% of Gen Z define diversity and inclusion as racial equality, followed closely by gender equality at 67%, with differently-abled equality rounding out the top three, at 48%. Among Millennials, 69% define diversity and inclusion as racial equality, but fewer define it as gender equality (58%). Differently-abled equality and LGBTQIA equality are tied for third.

Why is this important? If the market research industry hopes to attract younger generations, it must adopt a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Young multicultural adults must see themselves reflected in leadership, so they have something to aspire to. Ultimately, the industry's culture must support diversity and inclusion in principle and practice by creating equitable and inclusive workspaces were people from all backgrounds have a sense of belonging.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Misty Wilson, Director of Marketing at Greenbook, shares perspectives from her journey as a woman of color in market research and what the industry needs to do to attract diverse talent.

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Gen Z Demands Diversity & Inclusion, Upvotes Brands That Level Up

America’s youth, the first multicultural majority generation in U.S. history, is growing rapidly, adding over 2.3 million consumers (about twice the population of New Hampshire) to the population each year, making them a significant force to be reckoned with. These "mini-millennials” challenge brands to address societal stereotypes, particularly around gender identity, and use their influence to support or disapprove of brands’ diversity and inclusion efforts.

In our first report on diversity and inclusion last year, we analyzed consumer reactions to companies' public declarations of support for social justice in 2020. In our latest wave of ThinkNow Diversity & Inclusion: Brands and Consumer Purchase Intent, we find differences in perceptions and expectations among key demographic groups compared to last year’s report.

Download the report here:

Diversity & Inclusion Means Racial Equality

As in 2021, most U.S. consumers equate diversity and inclusion with ‘racial equality.’ Among LGBTQIA consumers, however, 70% consider ‘LGBTQIA equality’ a stronger representation of D&I. Youth are more likely to see ‘gender equality’ as an example of diversity and inclusion.

Multicultural Consumers Support Inclusive Brands

African American and Hispanic respondents are the most likely to support a company that makes a public commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives, which differs significantly from non-Hispanic Whites. This metric has held steady over the past twelve months as black and brown audiences, galvanized by the events of 2020, seek out brands that “understand the assignment.”

Consumers who support inclusive brands do so in various ways, but the extent to which they do it has shifted. Overall, we’ve seen a slip in the percentage of consumers willing to share their support on social media. The polarity of the platforms is likely driving this drop. However, there’s been an increase in those willing to spend more money at these stores or go out of their way to shop there – even if they’ve never done so in the past.

We did see a dip in the percentage of consumers willing to break up with their favorite brands if they don’t step up.

At the micro-level, non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to say that they would share their support on social media. Compared to a year ago, fewer Hispanics would share on social media, but more would go out of their way to support a store they had never frequented.

The number of African Americans willing to spend more money at a store that publicly supports diversity and inclusion significantly increased from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, this segment is more likely than other segments to be willing to spend at least 50% more at these stores.

While Millennials have become less likely to spend at least 50% more at stores that show a commitment to diversity and inclusion, Gen Z, on the other hand, has become more likely.

It Just Makes Cents

While it may not be making headlines or spilling out into the streets, consumer expectations for more diverse and inclusive brands are holding steady, driven by America’s youth. From race to ability, sexual orientation to gender, consumers want to see themselves represented authentically and sincerely by companies and brands.

A brand’s ability to do that impacts consumer sentiment and purchase behavior. Brands unwilling to step up run the risk of alienating consumer groups and the spending power at their disposal.

To see additional insights, download the 2022 ThinkNow Diversity & Inclusion: Brands and Consumer Purchase Intent Report today.

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Keeping it 200: How Latinos Navigate the American Experience

Latino immigrants once feared that practicing their native cultures would make them seem "less American" and thus less accepted, so they tried to acculturate to American ways of life quickly. Fortunately, most Latinos have evolved in how they see themselves. They embrace the concept of the "the 200%" (100% Latino and 100% American) and the ability to be ones authentic self without abandoning who they are. Language has been one of the biggest indicators of that. In the past, immigrant parents may have insisted that everyone in the household speak only English and stifle their native tongue.

But today, bicultural bilingual households across the U.S. are thriving, primarily driven by younger generations who refuse to conform or apologize for their lineage. Gen Z is the first multicultural majority generation, and Latinos have the highest rate of interracial marriage.

So how should marketers engage this demographic? Connecting with the new mainstream requires understanding the dynamics they navigate daily, taking into account their cultural lens, contextual environments, and behavior. To do that, they must be invited to the conversations and a part of the decisions being made. By relying on people with these experiences, you can assess the authenticity of your marketing efforts and decrease the chance of missing the mark.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Vanessa Vigil, General Manager, mitú, distills the notion of "the 200%" and why it's important for marketers to dive deeper into multicultural consumer insights.

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How To Use Intrapreneurship To Champion Diversity and Inclusion Within Organizations

Organizations often launch diversity and inclusion initiatives as strategic imperatives to create more equitable and inclusive work environments. While it's the right thing to do, it’s often assumed that there’s immediate buy-in across the board. That’s not always the case, however. Within the company, there are ways to be an intrapreneur and make an impact. (more…)

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