July 27, 2022
Diversity and inclusion is not a new trend or topic to researchers, marketers, or even the general public. But what is new is how the conversation has been evolving. This year's Quirks Event NYC the theme of inclusivity in research was evident whether you were talking about primary research methodology or generational trends. Rather than spotlighting awareness of the issue, it was encouraging to see a shift from why we need inclusivity to how we can create actionable, inclusive outcomes. TL;DR: We need receipts.
• America is going through great demographic changes: Non-hispanic whites will account for the minority by 2060, and Hispanics will account for ? of the population.
• Generational changes abound with young adults leading change and acceptance of gender and sexual orientation self-identification: half of adults aged 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
• Gender disparities in the workforce continue: Women who have no education beyond high school exited the labor force in greater numbers than similarly educated men since the pandemic.
So, how can brand leaders and agency leaders be more intentional about inclusion in research?
The younger generations are showing an even greater self-identification need than the generations before them in their brand and product choices. Global Web Index presented their kids data set from +1M interviews conducted this year at Quirks revealing kids aged 5-15 are drawn even more than Gen-Zers or Millennials to people who represent them. When presented with different animated characters, kids of different races often selected people who look like them as the character they liked the most.
This drives brand love and brand loyalty, which in turn leads to repeat customers who advocate for you. What prevents researchers and marketers from doing this? The obvious: time and money. We all deal with budgets and more work than time in the day. But expertise and effort also play a role in executing more representative research. When putting together a research scope and methodology, setting the work up right and asking the right questions creates deeper findings within the data and the research. Research teams need to build more complexity so we can all work together to create better representation.
Brands need to move into “cultural fluency.” In other words, they need to be familiar with cultures: their natures, how they work, and ways they intertwine with our relationships, whether they are work or personal. What it means to be inclusive and diverse can mean different things to different groups of people. For example, data points to Hispanic people being more community focused whereas African American responses revolve around embracing differences.
Another example is gender differences in brands. Women are more likely to use “I feel” statements when discussing what brands do well and are more likely than men to reference marketing of brands. On the other hand, men are more likely to reference internal employment or culture of brands as opposed to their marketing, and more likely to give vague responses. These types of differences exist within not only race groups but demographics variables at large: gender, sexual orientation, level of income, and geographic location. As marketers, we need to become more nuanced in our marketing and research approach accounting for these differences.
There’s a short game in the here and now, and the long game. What can we do right now to create more inclusive research? The study design and methodology, the people who do the work, the screening criteria, and how we extract and apply the insights all drive better outcomes for research. As we better understand how these different groups think with mixed methodologies and secondary tools like audience research and audience personas in the long term we’ll be able to further define and refine representative and inclusive data. This is how we create more action in our recommendations to solve business and marketing problems.
Tools from authoritative bodies like the IDEA Council, who publishes a list of best practices for US demographic questions, also provide additional research support, if you’re looking for it. We need to move from talking about why it’s important to showing more proof and receipts when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
July 27, 2022