Commentary

Top 3 New Total Market Research Insights We Learned In 2016

This was a banner year for multicultural market research. With large consultancies like PwC with their Always Connected study entering the multicultural arena to stalwarts like Nielsen continuing to produce high-quality work, total market consumer insights are widely available for brands looking to tap into this market. 

Yet, out of all the studies that have been published this year, it was hard to pinpoint data that was “new.” CPG preferences we tracked were updated and Spanish-language media consumption shifted, but rarely did we see studies that explored emerging technologies and trends. 

So, as we close out the year, I’d like to revisit our top three studies that revealed new insights that were previously unreported in 2016. Here’s what we found:

1. Virtual Reality Insight

Multicultural Consumers Can Be The Key To Wide Virtual Reality Adoption

In April of 2016, we conducted one of the first in-depth studies to look at the emerging technology of virtual reality among a representative sample of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites. When asked, “How interested would you be in buying a virtual reality product?” 56% of Asians, 54% of Hispanics, and 51% of African-Americans were very/somewhat interested. This contrasts with 44% of non-Hispanic Whites stating that they’d be very/somewhat interested in buying a virtual reality product. 

Looking specifically at respondents that were very interested, African-Americans top the scale with 35% noting that they are very interested in purchasing a virtual reality product. 

Despite these positive indicators, virtual reality has yet to take a hold in the marketplace this year as expected. Analysts point to the lack of the must have content as the biggest hurdle in widespread adoption, yet no analyst has yet to think about the potential multicultural consumers – specifically multicultural millennial consumers – should take this technology to the mainstream. Our research clearly points to an opportunity.  But technology has historically failed to target minority consumers despite their propensity to over-index in key technology verticals such as gaming and mobile usage. 

Because content is king, analysts’ focus on it is understandable. But finding few sources of content can be a challenge, unless you look in unlikely verticals for inspiration, like the beauty industry. Mac’s Selena cosmetic line sold out in 24 hours, creating a much-needed bump in sales for an industry experiencing a downward trend. Imagine the impact if virtual reality content creators made an immersive Selena concert experience? 

2. Sharing Economy Insight

Uber and Airbnb Usage In U.S. Driven Heavily By Asian-American Consumers

Uber and Airbnb, the poster children for the sharing economy, have continued their meteoric rise in 2016. While their racial discrimination issues have dominated the multicultural conversation of late, another more positive multicultural narrative has been unfolding. In a study we conducted in January 2016, we took a look at attitudes and usage of sharing economy apps/services among a nationally representative sample of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites. 

Our study shows heavy usage of Uber and Airbnb among Asian-Americans. 37% of Asian-Americans reported using Uber in the past 12 months. This is higher than African-Americans and Hispanics at 30% and significantly higher than non-Hispanic whites at 25%. Similarly, 10% of Asian-Americans reported using Airbnb in the past 12 months while 8% of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites used the service in the previous 12 months and only 7% of African-Americans.  

While Asian-Americans undoubtedly top the usage list, Hispanics and African-Americans are not far behind when it comes to Uber usage. In fact, Hispanics and African-Americans have reported a 5% higher usage of Uber in the past 12 months. This is one of the reasons the discrimination issue is one Uber must address rapidly, but it also points to a larger issue with the way sharing economy services market to a diverse customer base.  

Uber and Airbnb have done little regarding multicultural or cross-cultural marketing efforts. Looking at Uber’s app in the U.S. for example, it does not have the ability to toggle in-language even though, per our study, 28% of their Hispanic user base is Spanish-dominant. Similarly, the Airbnb U.S. website does not have a Spanish portal and almost 10% of their Hispanic users are Spanish-dominant. 

The lack of investment in multicultural markets in the U.S. among newer tech companies isn’t isolated to Uber and Airbnb.  They’ll likely shift to a more inclusive outreach effort like Facebook and Google have done. Our research shows that the shift should happen sooner than later.

3. Binge Viewing Insight

Cross-Cultural Content Has Increased Viewership Across The Total Market

The past several years has seen some of the best cross-cultural content. Atlanta, Master of None, Narcos, Insecure, and Fresh off the Boat are just a few examples of this new wave of content reflecting our increasingly diverse population. 

The investment in more cross-cultural narratives has paid off for networks and OTT services alike. In 2016, the  3rd wave of our study was conducted and delved into the streaming habits of a representative sample of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and non-Hispanic Whites.   

We found that streaming content has seen the greatest lift among multicultural cohorts. When asked which way they most often watch TV, 48% of Asians noted streaming. This is significantly higher than non-Hispanic whites at 35% and African-Americans at 32%. Hispanics are not far behind with 46% indicating that streaming is their preferred method of watching content. 

Zeroing in on Hispanic binge viewing behavior versus other ethnicities, we see that Hispanics are the most likely to binge watch their favorite show while non-Hispanic Whites are the least likely to. 42% of Hispanics report preferring to watch three or more episodes of their favorite show back-to-back vs. 31% of non-Hispanic Whites.

Research suggest that OTT viewing has a long life ahead. With continued investment in more diverse content, we’ll likely see a further increase in share among multicultural viewers in 2017. 

What To Expect In 2017?

Studying the total market’s general awareness of and usage patterns for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality presents a tremendous opportunity for market researchers to help brands develop better hardware, richer user experiences, and most importantly, culturally relevant messaging for an increasingly diverse population.

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