Messaging for Cultural Sensitivity - Multicultural Communities

When the AARP Multicultural Market and Engagement Group (MME) sought to develop a greater understanding of culturally sensitive and compelling messaging to reach Chinese- and Filipino-Americans, DELPHI Consumer Insights conducted an extensive research project to identify the best language, tone, word choices and associations to be used for messaging and advertising. The study included focus groups and large quantitative data collection in New York, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Prototype print ads were used as stimuli and were optimized for more compelling messaging.

A follow-up study among on the same target audiences to gain greater understanding of caregiving needs and barriers to seeking assistance for help in this area was completed shortly after the first study. Messaging strategies and information materials addressing specific needs and ways to mitigate cultural barriers were identified and recommendations made.

Broadening and Increasing Market Penetration

Breaking into new overseas markets for money remittances requires a thorough understanding of the local culture’s money transfer habits and practices. Over an 18-month period, a series of research studies was conducted for a leading online and mobile money transfer company. This was conducted among foreign-born minorities: Mexicans, Chinese mainlanders, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Koreans and Indians to identify motivators and barriers to electronic and mobile money transfers, problems encountered among users, misconceptions among non-users and cultural resistance to change. Underlying cultural norms and mores about financial assistance to family members in one’s home country, frequent money gifting occasions and typical amounts remitted were also explored. Advertising messages, print and video prototypes were initially developed. Follow-up research subsequently tested and optimized each market ad campaign resulting in increasing sales and growing market penetration.

Communications and Advertising Campaign Development

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal & Plant Health Inspection was concerned about the growing threat of invasive pests in the state of California which was threatening organic farms and the wine industry’s vineyards in Napa County. Research was conducted among area residents of Northern CA to guide strategy to change the conversation about this issue among constituents, which was froth with misconceptions and misinformation. The research also sought insights into creating an appreciation of the long term negative effects of invasive pests, and generating a greater likelihood for these constituents to take concrete actions in their daily lives. This multi-phase study was particularly challenging because the campaigns core target audience was, as yet, unknown at the start of the project.

Through a series of qualitative studies, hypotheses were generated about identifying attributes of the target audience, and later validated through quantitative surveys. Findings guided the development of an award-winning public education campaign against invasive pests. A pre-and post-campaign survey assessment was also conducted, revealing areas where the campaign was impactful and others that needed improvement. Areas of opportunity were similarly identified and analyzed to determine some factors that may have mitigated the program’s success.

New Product Development

Otis McAllister, one of the oldest companies dealing in global food trade and distribution, was interested in developing new whole rice and grains products with innovative flavors to add to its current product line (Village Harvest Grains). To this end, DELPHI Consumer conducted online surveys to identify the combination of flavors and grains that had the greatest appeal and purchase interest and identify which winning combination to their product line would bring in the greatest incremental growth. Packaging concerns were also investigated.

In the area of new product development, consumer interest in a new European alcoholic beverage was the focus of qualitative focus groups and follow-on online surveys to guide this new product development, optimization and commercialization.

Place Branding

The Presidio Trust sought community input to guide the selection of the winning entry in a nationwide competition for the redesign and rebranding of The Presidio of San Francisco, a former military fort converted into a national park. The immediate need was developing a greater understanding of San Francisco and Bay Area residents’ perspectives and opinions of upcoming Presidio initiatives to augment the feedback from city-wide hearings and planning process. In addition to gaining insights from a wide swath of the population, the research sought to ensure that the park’s image as a welcoming and inclusive recreational facility for all is communicated.

To help address this goal, qualitative research in the form of focus groups among a range of city dwellers from diverse communities was conducted, in collaboration with OneWorld Communications. Key learnings were that people seek areas and spaces where they can have a good time rather than building new structures. The former included more picnic and grilling areas, areas for sports activities (organized and spontaneous), areas for performances (music, theater), camping facilities for individuals and groups, more toilets, parking, drinking water and inexpensive snack food. There was a strong desire to experience what in fact the Presidio currently offers which is largely unknown, versus creating new offerings.

In-Home Use Product Test

Product development and commercialization require a broad range of data needs: concept testing, positioning, in-home product use and optimization, naming, product claims testing and advertising development. Dermitage, a complete line of anti-aging skincare – for face, neck, eyes and hands – developed by and for women, needed market research to address these business needs. We addressed these and other data needs through a series of research projects, helping the company navigate the competitive landscape, improve the product and grow market share. Tracking of customer satisfaction over time helped establish a system of continuous feedback and improvement thereby refreshing its product line and identifying potential new categories.

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