Consumer Insights needs an inclusive approach too

Consumer Insights needs an inclusive approach too

Data & Insight
5 minute read

Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, so brands need to ensure they are getting insights from everyone. Corrine Moy, Council Member of ESOMAR – the global insights community – explains.

Article details

  • Author:Corinne Moy
    Council member, ESOMAR
29 November 2022

It is widely accepted that inclusion is a huge driver of business success and innovation and without it, brands can get things seriously wrong.

A big part of recognising and meeting the needs of all types of consumers – ethnically diverse, differently abled and with different perspectives – is understanding.

In a webinar organised by the WFA with ESOMAR, we looked at how consumer insight can be a key tool in developing effective marketing and advertising content and campaigns. To be truly effective, however, such insight must also be inclusive, ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard and that their opinions are respected and taken on board.

This requires brands and research partners to open out the whole process, through all the elements of recruitment, design, execution, analysis and reporting.

Getting this right means addressing four key areas:

Inclusive samples

Typically, research samples are balanced in terms of age, gender and sometimes socio-economic class. We frequently leave to chance the inclusion of ethnic groups, LBGTQ+ communities, people with physical disabilities or mental health conditions. If we are to be truly inclusive, we must ensure these sectors of society are included by design. To do this, marketers and researchers have to include quotas in the quantitative sample for key groups of interest. Boost samples may also be desirable for key groups of interest.

When dealing with online panels marketers need to understand the recruitment strategies of panel providers. Check that suppliers have recruitment strategies that ensure diverse sample – and understand which groups are still likely to be under-represented. Where this is the case, it may be necessary to consider supplementary recruitment strategies to cover these groups, social media interest channels, advocacy groups and niche panels are all good sources of insight.

Making research accessible to all

Best practice for survey design is paramount – keeping interview length short and questions short and direct enables everyone to take part. Consider the research journey for participants with different impairments, needs or adaptive approaches. The best way to do this is to design any project in consultation with those who have ‘lived experience’.

Locations for qualitative groups, for example, should be accessible for those with physical disabilities, as well as the neurologically diverse. Ensure that questionnaires are designed to accommodate disabilities by using accessible survey formats and platforms. Online surveys need to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

Researchers should also be open to mixed methodologies to accommodate different needs such as mixing online and face-to-face interviews. Use plain language in invitations, screeners and questionnaires, while ensuring that the latter are available in relevant ethnic languages. And always allow people the option to self-declare and offer a ‘Prefer not to say’ option.

Develop your skills at commissioning inclusive research

Marketers and their insight teams should develop a roster of agencies that they know have experience/expertise in Inclusive research. They need to evaluate agencies’ capabilities around diverse recruitment and methods as well as assessing the methodological accommodations they have available – in terms of both technology and survey content. They should have a clear understanding of how their approach to analysis and reporting might maximise inclusion.

A central element is the need to be clear in the research brief – what does inclusion mean – balanced sample, multi-mode and/or sample boosts for example. Clarity of objectives will produce a clearer and more focused response from agencies. At the same time, marketers need to be realistic with respect to time and budget requirements. Inclusion takes time, it might involve multiple interview modes, phased recalls or accommodations for interview. Inclusion also costs money – cheap online panels wont’ deliver.

The best quality approaches will require more resource and your procurement partners need to understand that agencies cannot deliver inclusive research at rock-bottom prices. Train teams to understand what inclusion requires and to properly assess proposals.

Right questions and right interpretation

Research associations and interest groups produce recommendations for inclusive research and question formats. National Statistical Offices produce harmonised questions sets as well, all of which can help ensure you are approaching audiences in an inclusive frame of mind.

It’s also important to interpret research results with inclusivity in mind.Researchers need to be aware of our own biases and ingrained beliefs when interpreting results and reporting insights. The best solution is to ensure diverse teams in the entire analytics and insight process.

The journey towards truly inclusive research is ongoing. A lot of best practice recommendations are not yet perfect. But doing something is better than doing nothing, and we can iterate together by sharing our experiences and progress.

ESOMAR is building a repository of best practice guidelines and tools, drawn from across the global research industry, from national research associations and interest groups. These can be a great starting point for marketers and agencies to commission and deliver more inclusive research and so better represent all consumers.


A widely renowned expert in the Marketing/Data Science space, with a track record for innovation and excellence, Corrine Moy is Council Member of ESOMAR, the global consumer insights community. Corrine worked for GfK for more than 20 years, holding more recently the position of Global VP of Marketing Science.

WFA Insight Forum is a unique global peer-to-peer community dedicated to senior Insight & Analytics leaders from WFA membership. The 600-strong group meets regularly to exchange knowledge. In June 2022, members met to discuss common challenges and identify solutions when it comes to building more diverse insights. Read more in the meeting overview and get in touch to find more. WFA members can also engage in other dedicated communities, such as Sourcing Forum or the D&I Taskforce.

Article details

  • Author:Corinne Moy
    Council member, ESOMAR
29 November 2022

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