NEWS14 March 2023

Try harder to reach ‘hard to reach’ communities, hears panel

Inclusion Insight Alchemy News UK

Some communities being hard-to-reach is a “lazy narrative” and the research industry must make more attempts to speak to people from diverse communities, a panel heard at the Market Research Society (MRS) conference Insight Alchemy 2023.

Tunring up the sound panel

Kenny Imafidon (pictured far right), co-founder and managing director at ClearView Research, said that he entered research as he saw a lot of work that was “talking about people like me” without engaging those communities.

“I don’t like the lazy narrative of ‘hard to reach’,” Imafidon said. “The issue is that the industry hasn’t taken responsibility and hasn’t bothered to engage.”

Imafidon added that more work needed to be done to engage people in research, rather than simply accepting the issue and charging clients more to research among diverse communities.

More participatory research is key, he added: “A lot of people will do research about people without ever engaging with them. That’s where a lot of insights are lost.”

He concluded that work needs to be done to maintain focus on addressing diversity issues in the industry.

“It is not about ticking boxes,” said Imafidon. “It is understanding this is a never-ending journey.

“You have to keep up the momentum. And people are on different places on that journey.”

Rebecca Cole (pictured centre), managing director at Cobalt Sky and chair of the MRS Representation in Research Group, told the panel that there had been progress in making nationally representative samples include factors such as ethnicity, disability and sexuality.

Traditionally, including as recently as 2018, nat rep samples focused on gender, age, region and occupation, and occasionally social class.

However, recently there has been work to expand this list of demographic characteristics to include race, gender preference, disability and sexuality.

Cole called for a “principles-based approach” to more diverse research, including practices such as avoiding assumptions and involving people in the design of research programmes.

Also speaking on the panel, Peter Totman (pictured centre left), director at Jigsaw Research, said there was “work to be done” on tackling preconceptions of Brexit voters.

However, he said he was “unfashionably optimistic” that things are moving in the right direction on diversity, adding that clients were specifically asking for more diverse research.

Aadit Shah (pictured centre right), insight manager at Sony Music UK, said his research had shown the value of representation – including heritage, ethnicity, nationality and sexuality – in how it helped people connect to musicians.

He added this had made a positive impact on how music artists were marketed.