Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company) We didn’t set out to start a martech company but my career went full circle. I started out as a marketing director for a B2B publication focused on Latino entrepreneurs, Hispanic Business. There I learned about how important Latino, African-American, and Asian entrepreneurs in the U.S. are to our economy. After several years on the marketing side of things, I transferred to the market research side of marketing at a company, Garcia Research, where I became VP of Online Research after building what became the first nationally representative Hispanic online panel in the industry. This led to the company being acquired after two years of launching the panel and at that time my business partner and I decided to not go along with the acquisition and start ThinkNow.
“A rising tide raises all ships.” We’ve all heard that expression and many companies are hoping it’s true as the U.S. economy experiences the lowest unemployment rate and the longest period of growth in U.S. history. Under such circumstances, we could reasonably expect all our ships to be riding high, right? Not quite. In fact, many companies are struggling and wondering why they’re not experiencing the growth they believe they should be. As a consumer insights company that works across multiple verticals and consumer segments, we have a good vantage point from which to observe the rise and fall of the tides and the individual ships trying to stay afloat. Take a closer look and ask yourself these questions:
If asked which consumer group is most likely to be planning vehicle purchases in the next 12 months, you might automatically think of all those car-hungry Gen-Xers and boomers. So you may be surprised to learn that millennials account for 35% of those looking to purchase a vehicle this year, according to our research. Statistically, that is significantly more than the number of boomers (at 19%), who plan to buy a vehicle within the year. Boomers, in fact, are the least likely age group to be in the market for a car, with 39% indicating no near-future plans to buy or lease a vehicle.
The rise of micro-mobility and auto technology has changed the landscape of transportation, but a few things remain the same. Consumers still prefer to shop for vehicles in-person and they want to own their cars. These insights and more are found in the ThinkNow 2019 Auto Purchase Trends Report which takes a closer look at vehicle purchases, purchase preferences, and the impact of technology on the industry.
The novel, A Tale of Two Cities, has one of the most recognizable opening sentences of all time: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” It depicts the drama of the French Revolution within two cities, London and Paris. And of course, as a market researcher, it made me think of what is happening in the sample industry. Thankfully the revolution happening in sample isn’t a bloody one (although for some businesses it may feel like it). But, the dichotomy in thought and innovation happening within the sample industry is polarizing, and we’re starting to see two distinct paradigms unfold (I won’t comment on which represents wisdom or foolishness).
For decades, Hispanic grocers and Hispanic products in mass market grocers have been dominated by food which comes either directly from Latin America or U.S. based companies that try to emulate those of Latin America, like cheeses, spices, and canned goods. There has been little innovation in these products since the 1970s and 80s when Hispanic immigration into the U.S. boomed, and companies responded with products to meet the new discerning consumer who was looking for authentic Hispanic products. Flash forward to 2019, and now immigration from Latin America is at an all-time low, but the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow at a rapid pace driven primarily by U.S. born Hispanics.
Amplifying the voice of the multicultural consumer is at the heart of what we do at ThinkNow. Our research studies dig deeply into this multifaceted audience to uncover the cultural nuances that make them unique and the impact acculturation has had on immigrant communities. We believe in the power of this data, and often reach out to companies who have never interacted with us when the research impacts their business directly. A common objection we get from cold outreach calls is, “sorry, but we don’t do multicultural research.” That response stings. To say that you’re not willing to get to know over a quarter of the U.S. population is both offensive and tragic, because not only does it send a message that you don’t care, but it’s just bad business.
Autonomous Driving and Micro-Mobility Gaining Ground With Consumers It has been two years since we released our last report on auto purchase trends. While 2017 doesn’t seem like that long ago, a lot has changed in the automotive industry. Back then, Lyft was still a private company and Bird was a scrappy start-up. Tesla autopilot wasn’t really autopilot, and Ford was still making sedans. The change in the automotive, and more broadly, the transportation segment since then has been nothing short of amazing. In response to the changes, we’ve released our 2019 Auto Purchase Trends Report which takes a closer look at vehicle purchases, purchase preferences, and the impact of technology on the industry.
What’s a little misconception among marketers? Well, in some cases, a minor misconception can lead to a huge missed opportunity. For instance, despite a significant, well-documented increase in multicultural consumers in the U.S., marketers of premium and luxury goods show little interest in this demographic. Why the indifference? It appears to stem from an assumption that the higher their income, the less people are influenced by their culture when making buying decisions. Makers of premium wine, beer, and spirits, for example, are in a prime position to take advantage of the growing opportunity with higher-income multicultural consumers. But to do so, they should consider what role culture plays in the purchasing decision.
As a market research company with a robust multicultural practice, we’re often asked about how to market to Asian Americans. Often, clients have heard that Asian Americans are wealthier and better educated than other groups and they want to tap into these appealing consumers. However, when we walk them through the different country of origin groups and languages spoken, they’re often surprised by the variety and complexity within this market. One way to simplify the discussion is to look at shared cultural values and craft messages that can be adapted to various subgroups within the Asian American community.