Tips to Think About When Conducting Multicultural Research
According to U.S. Census Bureau reports, America is projected to grow by 75 million people over the next four decades, from about 329 million this year to 404 million in 2060. The category of those identifying themselves as being two or more races is set to be the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group over the next several decades, followed by Asians and Hispanics.
According to the Pew Research Centre, over one-tenth of America (14%) is foreign-born compared to 5% in 1965. That same research suggests something that I find even more striking—by the year 2055, no single racial or ethnic group will be the majority of the population.
This increasingly multicultural makeup should be a key factor when designing a sophisticated research program targeting the diverse demographics of our world. Think of this society as an incubator of insights—different genders and cultures bringing different personalities, opinions, and perspectives. But this also means brands and agencies will increasingly need to tailor their approaches.
For this blog post, I want to offer some tips on how to address cultural differences when conducting market research among an increasingly diverse target audience.
Seven Tips for Multicultural Market Research
Here are seven quick tips to help plan out your multicultural market research.
Tip 1: Take a look at earlier research conducted in this area.
It is important to examine the different results that have been previously shared, as well as the sampling plans and weighting considerations other researchers might have taken. You can learn so much from previous research, whether you find it from online portfolios or your own business insight team.
Tip 2: Keep in mind demographic differences by racial or ethnic groups, and be sure to include adequate multicultural representation in your sample.
It can really depend on the subsets from which you are trying to gain insights, but due to varying response rates and/or panel representation, I would always recommend an oversample to obtain an adequate read.
Tip 3: Don’t assume because your survey has been completed that you are also complete!
I would recommend comparing your survey demographics to the general population that you are trying to research! By doing this, you can then understand if you need to make any changes to the data, such as weights to ensure the results are reflective.
Tip 4: Think about your participants and their preferred language.
An easy, but often forgotten, technique is to ensure participants can complete surveys in their preferred language. This is so important—especially in the case of phone studies and panels.
Often, participants will respond in their native language when given the option. However, this makes it critical for the translations to be authentic. To get the best sense of what people really meant, it is important to avoid overly formal language or paraphrasing. While you can hire efficient and cost-effective translators, I would recommend finding translators from the specific region your targeted respondents are from—classical Spanish from Madrid can be quite different from the language of Americans with family roots in Mexico or Central America, for example.
Tip 5: Think about your audience!
The use of smartphones is not only influencing the number of times I walk into someone (because my head is looking down while I’m tweeting away!), but it is also swaying how we communicate with each other, and shop for various things. But not everyone accesses the internet the same way.
When conducting research among a specific racial or ethnic group, make sure you are able to use the correct data collection method to effectively reach participants. According to the Pew Research Centre, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to access the internet via cellphone or tablet. On the other hand, Asian Americans are more likely to have broadband in the home.
By making sure you understand your audience and the most appropriate data collection method, you increase your chances of attracting not only more respondents, but also gathering more robust data because individuals are in their comfort zone.
Tip 6: For the data analysis stage, make sure you understand the details.
As you sift through the results, it is important to remember there are numerous factors at play. You need to consider whether income levels or ethnicity are driving behavioural or attitudinal differences between your respondents.
Tip 7: Remember the people.
Whether you are conducting multicultural research or any other type, there is one particular concept that should never get forgotten—respondents are people. That means whichever method you pick, the same concept applies: in order to understand someone’s views and opinions, you first need to understand how you will ask them the questions.
Off to work you go!
Jake Pryslak, commonly known as the Research Geek, is a 3-time award-winning market researcher, blogger and speaker. He’s a current Forbes columnist who is active across a plethora of social media channels. His aim is to share his market research knowledge with others in the industry. You can find his blog and social media channels here.