Three Steps to Improve DEI in Market Research
Diversity includes differences of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, and socioeconomic background and all of these contribute to an individual’s unique experience of the world
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Whether you are testing marketing campaigns, need feedback for product launches, or want to understand product usage, diversity in market research can help to ensure you really understand customer behavior and why your consumers think and act the way they do.
Diversity includes differences of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, and socioeconomic background. All of these contribute to an individual’s unique experience of the world, including what they choose to consume. In a nutshell, diversity and inclusion are so important because it’s about respecting and appreciating differences. It ensures everyone’s voice is heard and that their opinions are respected and taken on board, allowing brands to communicate with all their customers, no matter who they are. As such, attention to DEI can enhance sales and innovation.
Diversity in market research
That’s precisely why ensuring you have diversity in market research is vital. So you can be sure that all ages, genders, sexualities, nationalities, and religions are equally represented by your brand. The population is very diverse, and in today’s world, it’s more important than ever to ensure your brands’ campaigns resonate with everyone, no matter who they are.
There are three keys to ensuring diversity in market research:
- The Sample Source: We all know that market research’s business hinges on studying a subset of a population – or a sample – to understand actions, emotions, and motivations deeply. That sample must be inclusive and representative of a broad cross-section of individuals, and we must respect and value each voice to build proper audience understanding. For sampling diversity to work, the respondent base must be broad enough to represent the population, including over-sampling minorities. Results can be unknowingly skewed when projects use a small, narrow sample base.
- The Screener: Survey screeners are the area of the survey where we often place the least amount of thought: we have formulated and ordered all the questions we want for the survey and throw in the standard screener questions at the end. We often go on autopilot and simply put in the “standard” screener questions. Screener questions are a critical part of your survey because that is the information you draw from to begin formulating what your users look like. This is why developing inclusive survey screeners is essential to ensuring that everyone is included in the overall “user experience” and not biased by a bad screener.
- The Questionnaire: Depending on their wording and language, survey questions can include or exclude an entire population of individuals. Wording can also change a population’s understanding of the question, making their answers unreliable. A great example is demographic questions, another category where researchers often use their “standard” demographic question battery. For an excellent overview and recommendations, the Insights Association (IA) and other marketing research associations globally issued a whitepaper by their IDEA Council titled “The Evolution of Demographic Questions.” (Download the paper here.) In addition to demographics, evaluate all survey questions and responses to ensure they do not exclude any population.
However, a key to improving DEI in market research is to have a diverse base of professionals who can identify weaknesses in sample representation and the built-in bias that results. Changing how DEI is represented in our industry’s workforce will lead to better research results.
Businesses rely on the market research industry for fast and reliable consumer insights, and we have a significant impact on consumers and those we serve. We must ensure those insights are grounded in representative, diverse viewpoints celebrating individual voices. And we must create cultures of inclusion within our own companies, providing opportunities for everyone and establishing formal initiatives to ensure that the path forward is diverse.
Jenn Whaley is Chief Commercial Officer at OvationMR, where she global heads up sales and marketing. She posts regularly on The Standard Ovation.
OvationMR is a global provider of first-party data for those seeking solutions that require information for informed business decisions.
OvationMR is a leader in delivering insights and reliable results across a variety of industry sectors around the globe consistently for market research professionals and management consultants.
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