Monday, October 26, 2009

Do Hispanics rate products higher because they're Hispanic?

This is a question that multicultural researchers deal with in our work: Are our research participants responding frankly, or are they being polite? Because based on their culture, they may just be responding in a way they think is "appropriate."

Hispanics in particular tend to not want to show disrespect to authority (which can include the focus group moderator). This means that, when you are seeking true reactions to your marketing communications, your product, your new policy--you might have to take this cultural nuance into account in your summary.

Something I do when I'm moderating Hispanic groups that has been very helpful in encouraging their truthful opinions is that I use humor and humility at the outset, before we even get started. I also make it abundantly clear that I am in no way attached to the product or communications we're discussing. This seems to break the ice in a way that encourages more honest responses throughout the session.

This topic was brought to mind thanks to this month's newsletter from Quirk's Marketing Research Review. I've pasted in the piece below, for your consideration:

A trend has emerged in multicultural research showing that Hispanics rate certain products higher than non-Hispanics simply because they are Hispanic. The phenomenon is known as cultural lift, and it can be taken into account to improve the accuracy of results when conducting preference testing.

According to Savitz Research Companies, Dallas, Hispanics gave 5.9 percent higher average ratings than non-Hispanics in the U.S. on a zero-to-100-point scale, even though high product ratings often didn't translate to a rise in sales and usage. It has been thought that cultural influences may make Hispanics more reluctant to provide negative or impolite feedback.

When evaluating soft drinks, for example, Hispanics rated Pepsi 80.8, while non-Hispanics rated it 74.8, making it appear that Hispanics like Pepsi more and would be a better target. Ratings for 7-Up were essentially the same, at 73 for Hispanics and 73.7 for non-Hispanics. When asked to rate Fanta, a drink which Hispanics are known to prefer, Hispanics gave a rating of 80, compared to a 57.6 rating by non-Hispanics. After the 5.9-point adjustment of the Hispanic ratings to remove the cultural bias, Hispanics and the general population actually feel about the same about Pepsi, non-Hispanics prefer 7-Up and Hispanics still definitely like Fanta more than non-Hispanics.

What do you think? What have your experiences been, and how have you handled differences in communication? Please feel free to share here.

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