Tag Archives: total market

Total market research – how to conduct multicultural research without losing the cultural insights

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The Total Market debate has been going on for a while so much so that it spawned an organization to tackle the issue – Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) under Association of National Advertisers. There are different names for today’s marketing, Total Market, integrated marketing, segmented marketing, multicultural marketing, cross-cultural marketing, all in a way reflect the change in U.S. demographics which are growing more and more diverse. Given the change in demographics, when marketers conduct market research, ideally, the research should reflect the changing demographics and provide a healthy dose of cultural insights so that marketers can decide which campaign execution approach would be most effective in delivering on marketing and business objectives.

 

If you send out a RFP about a market research study that covers several cultural consumer groups (General Market, Hispanic, African American, Asian American), all research companies will say they have the capabilities to handle it. But the reality is that virtually no company has all the researchers with cultural expertise on staff because the market research business fluctuates a lot and research companies have stay lean and mean to survive. So when a research company gets a multicultural research project, they will partner with another company or consultant on the project. When it comes to multicultural research, this model applies to most companies, if not all, regardless of the size of the research company. Depending on your research partner’s staff and capabilities, recruiting, moderation, translation and report writing can be outsourced. Because there are so many moving parts in this complex research supply chain, it’s quite easy for something to fall through the cracks or insights to get lost.

 

There is no quick fix to the status quo of multicultural research because clients are demanding competitive cost with faster delivery and research companies have to stay lean and mean to survive. However, there are a few things marketers and research buyers can do to make sure that you get the cultural insights out of a study you’re paying for:

 

1) Since the moderator may or may not be on staff, ask the moderator questions you have right after the focus groups. Alternatively, when you have a debrief with the marketing, agency and research team, request the moderator to be on the debrief so that you can ask questions and get answers from the moderator. In-culture, in-language moderators can often provide insights and observations that people outside of the culture can’t easily pick up.

2) Ask your research partner who is writing the report. If the moderator is not writing the report, whether the moderator will be involved in the report writing process so that the moderator’s observations and insights will be incorporated into the report.

3) If you’re conducting the quantitative study, ask your research partner whether cultural experts will be involved in the analysis process to provide cultural insights and explain the why behind the numbers.

How to effectively implement total market strategy – taking a chapter from the Pixar new film “Coco”

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Coco

 

The marketing industry has been dominated by the idea of Total Market in the past few years. While the definition of Total Market is still being debated, the gist of the argument goes like this: With the changing demographics (minority consumers becoming the majority in the not-so-distant future), marketers should look at the market as a whole and employ an integrated strategy instead of segmented (by ethnicity) approach in marketing strategy development and implementation.

 

Personally, I think the segmented approach and total market approach can be summarized as follows:

 

Traditional total market strategy

 

 

In the past, companies that conduct various degrees of multicultural marketing would have their General Market agency develop a strategy and positioning, and then agencies with different cultural expertise would be brought in to adapt that General Market positioning for various multicultural segments (Hispanic, African American, Asian American).

 

Ideal total market strategy

 

For Total Market, ideally, cultural insights would be incorporated in the research stage and all the agencies and client team will work on the strategy plan and positioning together, then integrated or segmented execution will be created based on business and marketing objectives.

 

Pixar’s much acclaimed film Coco serves as a perfect example for the second approach. Coco tells the story of Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old Mexican who dreams of becoming a famous troubadour like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. From early on, the film creators sought input on character design and story from cultural advisors and made field trips to Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato between 2011 and 2013. The film opened to No.1 spot over the Thanksgiving weekend, grossing $71 million domestically. It became the fourth-highest-grossing Thanksgiving opener of all time, behind its Disney predecessors Frozen ($94 million), Moana ($82 million) and Toy Story 3 ($80 million). In spite of the fact that the Pixar writer and director Lee Unkrich himself doesn’t have any firm connections to Mexico and its traditions, the film won praises from the Hispanic community for its authentic storytelling.

 

For consumer marketing, the Coco production process for cultural accurateness would translate into

 

Market research: make sure the sample is representative, not just including token multicultural consumers. Over-sample a certain multicultural segment if needed based on business and marketing objectives. Hire research suppliers or consultants who are well versed in the culture and implications for target segments.

 

Create cultural awareness through cultural training: periodically conduct cultural training sessions or immersion sessions so that different functional teams will keep cultural relevance in mind in strategy execution.

 

Seek input from cultural experts throughout the process: establish a mechanism to gather cultural input throughout the process of strategy development and implementation. This can be employees, consultants, consumer advisors, agency partners, etc. Having a mechanism like this in place will avoid blunders like the Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner ad that was pulled.

 

In addition to primary consumer research, Sparkle Insights provides cultural training services. Please contact us for details iris@sparkleinsights.com.

Decoding Culture from the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit

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During the past few years, there has been a lot of debate on various approaches to marketing to today’s multicultural, minority-majority consumers, namely, whether a segmented/targeted approach or a Total Market approach would be more effective. At the heart of the debate is the role of culture and its influence on consumer behaviors. One of the main themes from this year’s Asian Marketing Summit by the Asian American Advertising Federation is culture and its role in marketing. I thought I would share my key takeaways from these insightful presentations.

 

Culture is a very broad term. A Google search of definition of culture yields the following: The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. So it can be anything, be it based on age, gender, generation, era, ethnic background, etc. For the purpose of discussion in this blog, culture referrals to one’s upbringing, and for immigrants, cultural background and identity pertaining to their countries of origin.

 

In Kathy Cheng’s presentation Culture: A Pathway to Unstated Consumer Preferences, she provides ample examples to illustrate cultural DNA of interdependence in Asian culture being the key driver for Asian consumers’ predisposition to seek one-stop shopping or package deals. One of the examples she presented is the comparison between travel site apps Ctrip (a popular Chinese travel app) and Priceline. The Ctrip app includes more than two dozen functions from air fare, lodging to travel visa to local restaurants and 24/7 customer service. In contrast, the Priceline app sports a clean and clear look with three primary functions – hotels, flights and rental cars. (For more information about Kathy’s presentation on cultural DNA, please refer to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/meet-consumers-where-multicultural-marketing-kathy-cheng)

Comparison of Priceline and Ctrip by Kathy Cheng

(Illustration from Kathy Cheng’s presentation at the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit)

 

Culture no doubt plays an important role in consumer behaviors. The next question becomes as immigrants and their descendants acculturate, how much of that cultural DNA is retained.

 

In the Asian American Market Report created by Phoenix Marketing International in partnership with ISA, majority of Asian Americans maintain their cultural connection through food, music, TV programming and attending community events regardless of acculturation level.

AAMR cultural connection by acculturation

(Asian American Market Report by Phoenix Marketing International)

 

Ramit Sethi, a New York Times best-selling author of I will Teach You To Be Rich, in fact takes pride in his cultural background in some of his personal/business growth advice. https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/negotiate-like-an-indian-how-to-negotiate-a-salary-increase-video/

 

Asian American’s connection to cultural roots is noteworthy because the influence of one’s identity, culture and passionate points can be amplified effectively in this digital age and have an impact on broader consumer groups.

 

Edwin Wong, VP of Research and Insights of Buzzfeed, in his presentation Decoding Culture elaborated on the end of demographics, segmentation and targeting and the power of one in consumer influence in culture, movement and ultimately purchase behavior.

Edwin Wong at 3AF 2017 Summit

(Edwin Wong, VP of Research and Insights Buzzfeed, speaking at the 2017 3AF Asian Marketing Summit)
Indeed, Markio Carpenter, VP of Strategic Community Alliances at Nielsen, shared in her presentation on the influence of digitally savvy and trendsetting Asian American women whose passion for Korean beauty products has introduced General Market female consumers to a whole new world of beauty products and skincare regimen.

Mariko Carpenter at 3AF 2017 Summit

(Mariko Carpenter, VP of Strategic Community Aliances at Nielsen, speaking at the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit)

 

The latest 3AF media consumption study (http://www.3af.org/research/index.html) sheds lights on a consumer group that’s bicultural, bilingual and digital savvy. They use mainstream media for information and entertainment but also utilize niche media to stay connected to their cultural roots, the community and their home countries. Technology also makes contents in all forms, whether produced in the U.S. or in home countries, more accessible than ever. Technology tools and Asian American’s digital savviness make it easier to share their passion, authentic stories and amplify their influence as a consumer group.

3AF Asian American media consumption study

(Cover of 3AF’s Asian American media consumption study) 

 

Culture takes many forms, part of it is ingrained, part of it is acquired and may shift based on social norms, trends, education, information and interactions with others.

My husband who is Danish, fluent in Mandarin, well versed in Chinese culture and history once joked with me that he was more Asian American than most of the U.S. born Asian Americans. I posted a quiz about whether my Danish husband, who has obviously acquired a lot of Asian culture and knowledge, can be considered “Asian American” on my Facebook and most of my Asian American friends said “no.” I take that they considered being Asian American a right or identify by birth, not something that can be acquired. And there is pride in that cultural identity.

Uffe Bergeton talking to 2nd graders about Chinese culture

(Dr. Uffe Bergeton, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at UNC, Chapel Hill, talking to 2nd graders about his Chinese seal collection)

 

There are many ways that each of us chooses to identify ourselves be it gender, ideology, religion, or social economics. But at the end of the day, it’s the ingrained cultural DNA, one’s upbringing and cultural roots that plays the most important role in shaping one’s identity. And that’s where marketers can meet consumers where they are, on an emotional level.