ThinkNow, a technology-driven cultural insights agency and the No. 1 provider of U.S. Hispanic samples, is increasing its reach into Latin America, expanding its Spanish language panel offerings to Argentina and Colombia. This further solidifies our dominant position in LatAm markets. In an industry that is consolidating based on value, ThinkNow offers access to major U.S. and LatAm markets that are Spanish speaking. ThinkNow has been operating panels in the U.S. and Mexico for eight years.
Strategic acquisitions can play a big role in corporate growth strategy. And recently, we’ve seen a number of them in the market research industry, especially in the panel sector. Since GfK Knowledge Network’s acquisition of Garcia Research’s Hispanic panel, Cada Cabeza, in 2010, there have been several large companies acquiring Hispanic panels to bolster their Hispanic sample offerings. Nielsen, Research Now, and most recently, Maru/Blue’s acquisition of the Hispanic panel, Tú Cuentas, just to name a few. So, what’s driving this growing interest in Hispanic panels?
There’s no doubt about it: the face of marketing has transformed over the last 20 years. Yet, for more than three decades, marketing to U.S. Hispanics has undergone little change; Spanish-language television still represents the bulk of U.S. Hispanic media spend, even though digital media use is now ubiquitous among Hispanics while television viewership is declining. There is a new study in the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, “Nativity-based view: A new audience measurement standard that drives television return on investment for U.S. Hispanics” authored by Dr. Jake Beniflah, Brian Hughes, and myself, has revealed a major opportunity for brands to improve results when marketing to U.S.-born vs. foreign born Hispanics.
As the percentage of Hispanics who speak Spanish begin to decline and immigration slows, it begs the question among market researchers, “do I still need Spanish-dominant sample as part of my U.S. sample frames?” Well as researchers, we can’t answer the questions until we investigate the numbers, right? So, let’s dive in, starting with the facts. Hispanic Spanish Speaking Consumer Growth Trends The United States is now the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a 2016 study published by Instituto Cervantes. In fact, of the roughly 60 million Hispanics living in the U.S., 41 million are Spanish dominant.
With only a few weeks left in the year, it’s fair to say that 2017 was the year of Hispanic sample. We saw an explosion of new Hispanic panels come online and provide quality sample helping us meet the demand for quotas we must fill regularly. We anticipate demand for quality Hispanic sample to continue its upward trajectory as companies attempt to better educate themselves on the diversity that exists within the Hispanic community in efforts to improve targeting and resonance in 2018.
I’ve had the privilege of building and maintaining multicultural panels for almost a decade. Despite the progress in technology to improve our delivery methods, our soft skills haven’t kept pace. As an industry, we’re still struggling to create culturally relevant panel experiences for respondents. This isn’t specific to multicultural panels, rather panels at large. We are an industry dedicated to helping our clients mine for consumer insights that will aid in the development of better products, services, and experiences.
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According to Lucid, programmatic sampling now accounts for 94% of all transactions sold on the Fulcrum Exchange, one of the industry’s largest sampling exchanges. That statistic is staggering because this sampling technology emerged just 3-5 years ago. The unprecedented road that Lucid is traveling is so promising that they’ve recently raised a $60 million round of funding to continue their efforts to revolutionize the future of the sample industry.
Only six weeks in, 2017 is already showing signs of being a big year for multicultural marketing. Corporations are doubling down on diversity initiatives. Strategic purchases and mergers have occurred and projected multicultural spend is trending upward for the year. But despite this year’s momentum, I just can’t shake the notion that targeting and segmenting via ethnicity is weighing us down.
As Hispanic market spend continues to grow and more companies are looking to capture a piece of this growing consumer, Hispanic research has been on the same exponential growth trajectory. More and more research companies are marketing themselves as equipped with Hispanic research capabilities and Hispanic online sample providers have been growing at the same rate. As a research company dedicated to researching multicultural consumers, we have welcomed the growing number of panel companies in the space since the need for Hispanic online sample is so great.
Thankfully Not The Hispanic Sample Industry…Yet. Much has been said about how poor panel practices are going to eventually lead to the exhaustion of the sample available from panels. From the latest GRIT report to the most recent CASRO conference, the bemoaning of response rates is hard to tune out, and rightfully so. As market researchers, this is definitely an area we can improve on. However, being in a niche sample industry, Hispanic sample, we have yet to feel the dire consequences of 40-minute surveys and constant spamming of our panelists.