Market research’s role in the conversation surrounding diversity

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Diversity and inclusion are taking centre stage around the world. Businesses are developing diversity and equality charters, brands are changing their images, labels, and names to be more inclusive, and long-time-coming conversations about social justice are dominating headlines.

In the market research industry, we have the coveted position of being close to the consumer. It is our work that helps organisations understand the individuals that make up their audiences in order to make solid business decisions – around communications, branding, product development, and more. With the global spotlight shining on racial justice, diversity, equality, and inclusion, organisations are experiencing heightened sensitivity surrounding diversity in consumer insights. We must step up to the plate.

So how can we ensure diversity in market research?
We all know that that the business of market research hinges on studying a subset of a population – or a sample – to gain a deep understanding of actions, emotions, and motivations. That sample must be inclusive and representative of a wide cross-section of individuals, and we must respect and value each voice in order to build true audience understanding.

There is a persistent myth that market research sample is NOT diverse enough. However, it is actually the approach or usage of sample that has perpetuated this belief. For diversity to work, the respondent base must be broad enough to represent the population. When projects are run on a small, narrow sample base, that is when results start to become skewed. In addition, we must be able to find the right people within the sample base. For example, some companies are over-sampling for specific racial minorities in order to gain a more diverse perspective.

How Cint is addressing market research sample diversity
At Cint, we operate the world’s largest consumer network for digital survey-based research, giving clients access to more than 130 million respondents from over 130 countries around the globe. The very number of people on which we can draw gives a higher probability of diversity in any given sample.

We don’t rely on this probability alone, though. Our digital insights gathering platform has the ability to identify consumers within our supply network based on deep profiling. These profile points allow the identification of people who fit the characteristics sought for a specific study, such as prioritising different groups based on nuanced demographics.

The Cint platform makes the process completely transparent, and users can see for themselves – or by working with their customer success representative – the feasibility of reaching tough audiences with low incidence rates and how the sample they are tapping into is representative and diverse, both behaviourally and demographically.

Diversity in our platform is our goal, and that is a journey rather than a destination. For that reason, our supply team is constantly evaluating and onboarding new supply sources that are focused on diversity as well as quality.

How diversity and quality are interlinked
Data quality is at the heart of every challenge and opportunity within the insights space, and we believe everything should be done with this in mind. At Cint, we track, measure and ensure quality through a wide number of initiatives.

The ability to access diverse sample is a core part of this company-wide commitment to quality. Our formal Quality Charter directly addresses respondent quality or the extent to which respondents are real, unique, engaged, and representative. When we look at these points with a diversity lens, being “representative” is foundational – “Do our respondents, collectively, exhibit demographics and behaviours consistent with a known population?”

Equality, diversity, and inclusion beyond the “business transaction”
It’s impossible to talk about diversity at all without addressing the heart of the matter: all people MUST be treated equally. In market research, we are lucky enough- if we take the right approach –to impact outcomes by ensuring diversity among respondents when it comes to gathering consumer insights for decision making. As companies, no matter what industry we are in, we must also take a leadership role in promoting diversity, inclusion, and equality as part of the core mission and objectives.

At Cint, we’ve developed an “Equality Charter” to guide our actions and formally solidify our commitment on this front. “We resolutely believe in the value of diverse voices, and in creating a culture where everyone can be successful. We are committed to challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, and broadening perspectives through our policies and our recruitment.” Throughout the year, we also support causes that have these ideals in mind to help further these important conversations.

So, fellow market research companies, we do have significant responsibilities when it comes to diversity. We must provide insights for decision-making that are grounded in representative, diverse viewpoints – insights that help celebrate 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 a diverse one.