ThinkNow Is a technology driven cultural insights agency. ThinkNow enables companies and government agencies to discover the cultural drivers that influence consumer decisions. We provide insight solutions to help organizations thrive in a changing demographic environment.
ThinkNow also owns and operates one of the largest and most representative Hispanic online panels in the industry, DigaYGane.com, which is used to service our own research as well as provide sample to the leading market research companies in the world.
How Strategists Use Cultural Context, Data, And Point of View To Tell Stories
Market researchers and strategists have a symbiotic relationship. Strategists offer a hypothesis or point of view, creating meaningful relationships between data and facts. It’s a matter of connecting the dots, not collecting the dots. While data gives voice to the consumer, strategists factor in cultural context to present a holistic picture of the narrative the data is trying to tell.
Even though some overlap between market research and strategy may occur, they are two distinct disciplines. Data informs while insights inspire. It is the strategists' responsibility to discern nuances in the data and codify campaign strategy to engage targeted segments of the population, in-culture.
About eight years ago, however, the total market approach threatened in-culture marketing. Essentially a synonym for general population, total market made few allowances for diversity and inclusion. While the popularity of the approach started to wane a few years later, it was the cultural awakening of 2020 that sealed its fate. Or so we thought. More consumers became culturally aware last year, but many brands still struggled to identify and connect with subcultures present within the general population authentically. Brands subscribing to the total market approach casts a wide net, diluting their messaging and alienating multicultural consumers.
As a result, the total market era was plagued by cultural missteps and marketing faux pas because brands were simply out of touch.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Deadra Rahaman, Vice President of Brand Strategy at Huge, discusses the relationship between market researchers and strategists and how the total market approach threatens in-culture marketing.
Using Sensory Research, Social Media, and Search To Explore Cultural Shifts
Cultural conversations thrive at the intersection of social media and search. Some consumers use social media to engage in external dialogue in the “public square” of society. While others look to validate their points of view without public scrutiny by typing inquiries into search. Collectively, these shared experiences provide a window into factors driving cultural shifts that impact consumer behavior and, ultimately, purchase decisions.
When consumers share their experiences online or inquire online through search, marketers often make assumptions based on that online behavior but neglect the sensory component. The how, what, and why of our actions are shaped by culture. The more we experiment with new things and elaborate on those experiences, the more culture becomes malleable, bending towards new dimensions.
Understanding this intersectionality is critical to any multicultural marketing strategy. Marketers, however, tend to over-rely on common cultural elements like values and language and underinvest in subtle elements that evoke nostalgia, like colors, music, even smells. Brands that dial into these cultural nuances consider how people feel and build those elements into the brand experience to create meaningful connections.
By making insights immersive and inspirational, marketers build cultural intelligence attuned to the dynamics driving culture.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Kalil Vicioso, founder of Tiny Hat Consulting, explores the intersectionality of sensory research, social media, and search and how they help marketers build cultural intelligence.
How To Use Intrapreneurship To Champion Diversity & 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. By empowering individuals within organizations to drive authentic diversity and inclusion efforts that advocate for a broad range of differences helps internal teams understand the ethics of D&I while making the business case for it.
For change agents to succeed, they need sponsors, internal influencers who advocate for them and advisors, trusted resources they can turn to for feedback and guidance. Whether through employee resource groups (ERGs) or forming new departments, products, and services, tuning the lens for diversity and inclusion, and providing a space and resources to incubate ideas, will benefit the brand and bottom line.
From a consumer perspective, organizations looking to focus on multicultural audiences must speak the language of their consumer, literally and figuratively. There is a way to do right by a consumer that aligns with business goals, and one of the best ways to do that is through market research. Connecting the dots in an impactful way enables companies to understand their consumer better and create relevant and meaningful experiences. Culture is a metaphor for race and ethnicity, and inclusive marketing considers nuances and various behavioral drivers. These drivers may vary by subculture, and research helps reveal those nuances so messaging and approach can be adjusted accordingly. That attention to detail could impact customer lifetime value and loyalty.
Data tells the story that needs to be told, and culture provides context and support. However, the first step to creating more culturally inclusive marketing is to build a diverse and inclusive team. Without it, the rest will be meaningless.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Eliana Murillo, founder and CEO of Eliment & Company and co-founder of Alquimia Tequila, discusses how employees can create the change they want to see within their organizations and how data helps brands tell the stories that need to be told.
Resources & Relationships: Empowering Diverse Talent
Modern-day corporate America has a uniform – typically white, male, and of certain affluence and political view. However, diverse talent across the board is calling for a new lens that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives both within and outside of organizations.
Marketers and researchers of color, for example, seek equity in pay and more seats at the table, as well as equal opportunity. In response, many companies create employee resource groups facilitated by black and brown employees where like-minded professionals can connect for emotional support. These employees assume the additional burden of running these groups without additional compensation and nearly no new opportunities to impact their career trajectory.
But black employees aren't the only ones calling out hollow DEI claims and blanket messaging. Consumers of color demand representation in marketing. Savvy marketers are tapping into the value chain of specificity for a more customized consumer experience instead of taking a broad approach. Culture impacts all aspects of human life. The narrower the focus, the greater the message's resonance for the intended audience and those who appreciate the effort to demonstrate authenticity.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, we talk with Sequoyah "DataBae" Glenn, founder of the Black Marketers Coalition and 924 CoOperative: A Multicultural Marketing Agency, about empowering black marketing and research professionals and the need to redefine the general market.
Redefining Identity: New Rules for Sampling in Market Research
How consumers choose to identify is changing, breaking away from conventions historically used to categorize and hypothesize about who people are and how they live their lives. Yet, traditional constructs aren’t keeping pace with the evolution of identity and leaves no room for the grey areas an increasing number of consumers choose to live in.
For agencies, this presents a challenge. They rely on market research for consumer insights to inform their strategies. But if researchers aren’t asking the right questions about identity, consumers can’t show up in the data authentically.
It has become increasingly clear that a new set of industry standards around sampling that moves and reacts to culture is needed, starting with redefining demographic questions in surveys. Reflecting on how consumers identify in the way research is conducted moving forward ensures more representative and inclusive insights.
In this podcast, we’re joined by Whitney Dunlap-Fowler, Founder of Insights in Color, Talia Lipkind, Team Lead, Trust & Safety Ops and John "Tre" Rials, Associate Director of Partner Programs at Lucid, to discuss a new collaboration focused on defining new parameters and standards around identity when conducting market research today and in the future.
The Business Case for DEI Makes Cents, But Are You All In?
At this point, the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion is a no-brainer. Not only is it a moral obligation, but research suggests maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce improves business outcomes and financial performance. So, essentially, implementing DEI initiatives within your organization is common sense and just makes cents, right?
Yet, many firms fail to look at how DEI supports the overall business strategy. Most are pushing and shoving for market share in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Cultural relevance is pulling ahead as the competitive advantage, yet companies are leaving money on the table by ignoring marginalized communities. The most effective and authentic way to remain relevant to an increasingly diverse marketplace is to have an increasingly diverse workforce. Many organizations, however, still struggle to incorporate DEI meaningfully from the top-down, resulting in missed opportunities, advertising faux pas, and internal struggles.
Many tensions are a product of under-investment. Companies routinely invest time, money, and resources into consumer research but overlook the consumer closest to them – employees. Employee experience is social currency that can be reinvested to drive performance, retention, and overall corporate well-being. Failing to invest in employees and programs that create a culture of belonging hurts the company’s marketability, both internal and external.
But DEI can’t just sit in Human Resources. It is just as important to strategy teams as it is to talent and workplace culture. Maintaining diverse teams mitigates the risk of missteps resulting from missing insights. To get that insight, you have to have it on the team. Even then, DEI falters if not supported by executive leadership.
In this episode of The New Mainstream Podcast, Camille Leak, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Program Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), discusses the business case for DEI, the cornerstones of successful programs, and how companies can implement and measure change.