Editor's note: Pepper Miller is president of the Hunter-Miller Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is adapted with permission from a chapter in Miller’s new book “Let Me Explain Black Again.”
The market research industry shamefully lacks diversity and inclusivity. According to Media Post,1 the breakout of race and ethnic representation in the research industry is: 68.9% white; 13.2% Asian, 10.2% Latino, 4.9% Black American, 0.2% American Indian and Alaska Native.
This lack of representation leads to a deficit of insights. Diverse talent and relevant tools and practices would direct recruiting and interviewing of underserved segments and help brands understand and better communicate with them. Business leaders must unlearn the one-dimensional traditional practices to fix the deficit and incorporate a new approach.
I am grateful for the clients who invest in Black studies and the respondents who participate in them. Yet, comparatively speaking of the industry at large, throughout my market research career, there has been little designated research conducted with Black Americans by Black Americans.
Most of my work has been conducting qualitative research – focus groups, ethnographies, one-on-ones, executive interviews, listening sessions and the like with Black Americans. What I love about my work is the opportunity to converse with respondents – real people – who, in addition to sharing their opinions about particular products, services or advertising, talk about their dreams, hopes, experiences and challenges as Black Americans. I’ve learned so much about the Black community and myself from these conversations. I live in a Black community in Chicago and appreciate how daily interactions with it have served as my lab for observations. But it’s the research projects, combined with my personal experience, that has been a major resource of Black insights for my work over...