As the Black Lives Matter movement continues throughout the United States and beyond, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on how Opinions4Good can best support the Black community during this time. Our mission has always stemmed from supporting nonprofit organizations across the nation, and we believe that this is where we can start. To this end, Opinions4Good will endeavor to foster relationships with charitable organizations that serve the Black community and the fight against racism, both to encourage donations to these organizations and to benefit market research insights from these historically marginalized voices in society.
The recent protests are part of a larger movement to root out systemic racism towards those in the Black community. Such racism takes many forms, and to a certain extent even exists in the world of market research.
There are several possible reasons why market researchers neglect or discount Black voices. For one, “there is a lot of pain and…shame associated with Black history”[I]. Some researchers are too uncomfortable to shine a spotlight on race, or deem it “impolite”[II]. Others choose to focus on different “cultural identifiers” like language. For instance, some researchers roll the African-American segment in with white Americans because both groups primarily speak English (in contrast to the Hispanic community)[III].
Whatever the reason, discrimination against African Americans in market research can have real consequences. Businesses can fail to attract Black consumers, who account for an impressive—and growing—$1.2 trillion in spending. They can alienate existing clients through ill-conceived products (like the Blackface Gucci sweater or marketing blunders (like the Dove lotion ads). And, most importantly, African Americans can end up woefully underserved, lacking products/services that meet their needs and preferences. [For a rough comparison, look at the 2010 U.S. Census: the survey undercounted African Americans by almost 1 million people, reducing their share of $400 billion in government programming].
But the market research community has the power to correct its mistakes. Among other actions, it can ensure that at least 15% of research panelists are Black, reflecting the broader U.S. population. It can pose questions related to race, rather than shying away. It can foster a welcoming and respectful environment where Black panelists feel comfortable sharing their views. It can amplify Black voices in analysis reports.
Moreover, market researchers can openly acknowledge and celebrate the differences between Black and non-Black panelists. After all, “When you really understand how someone is different without judging it, you have an opportunity to come closer…that's where the insights come from”[IV].
Do you also want to be part of the solution? Please support the Black community by donating to nonprofits like The NAACP, The Urban Institute, Erase Racism, The Center for Black Equity, The Loveland Foundation, and Color of Change.
Or the following Op4G partners:
Chicago Tutoring Connection provides tutoring and mentorship to economically disadvantaged 7th -12th grade students, many from Cabrini-Green (a Black majority neighborhood). The Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center provides free legal education and representation to victims of crime, including hate crime. Finally, the Fervent Hearts Foundation, established by a chapter of the historically Black Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, awards scholarship/fellowship grants to worthy women in need.