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  • Isabel Aneyba

Hire a Cultural Expert. Do not get lost in translation

Updated: Jun 11, 2019



For 12 years, COMARKA has provided high quality insights that drive growth. The Anglo and the Latino cultures are different and we can see that difference when we moderate focus groups. General market groups give nice, organized and concise responses versus Latino groups that give cheerful, animated, and elaborate responses. The following points explain why our cultural expertise is a key success factor when we manage a qualitative research project with Latinos:

1)     Moderation is all about cultural interpretation. The Latino culture is a social oriented. They thrive with acceptance. When participants are with a Latino moderator they have a deeper connection because they feel that they can be themselves and be understood. Even for me, when I moderate I need to read between lines and find ways to encourage them to talk about controversial topics. In a recent study, I asked “what are the reasons that you do not use this service?” I got some responses. Then I asked again, “in your neighborhood, what are some reasons that your Latino neighbors do not use this service?” I got different truthful responses. Later, I debriefed the clients about which responses were the most relevant. This was necessary.

2)     Successful analysis comes from cultural expertise. Two advantages that I provide convinced clients to hire me to do the analysis.

The first advantage is that clients will know what participants really said. When the transcriptionist types the English translation (from the Spanish groups), they do not know who said what. Many times what 4 people said is reported as the opinion of one person which makes the paragraph confusing! The meaning is lost in translation, literally. In COMARKA reports the meaning is revealed.

The second advantage is cultural expertise. Connecting your brand or product with a cultural emotional driver could be the biggest source of its success. To do this, you have to understand the target’s cultural beliefs, their attitudes and their rituals regarding the category. Latinos can tell you their attitudes and rituals but they cannot tell you their beliefs. Culture is like Air, you live in it but you do not acknowledge it. That’s why you need an expert who has done research about Latino values. This person usually has lived in that country, has expertise with that culture and its Spanish language nuances. I am from Mexico and I have done research to identify their values and emotions. Let me give you an example: For Hispanics, being a good parent means to please their children. This is the value. This means that Hispanics are more influenced by their children when making purchasing decisions. Studies have shown that children influenced 60% of Latino purchases. A client hired us to discover why their TV campaign generated such great results. After doing ethnographic qualitative research, we learned that their ad really connected with Latino moms and their children and that these children persuaded their moms to buy this food product. The client felt confident running this campaign nationally and grew their sales significantly.


Marketing is cultural. When you are working on a campaign or a product, it is important to acknowledge that to persuade a group of people you need to understand them and truly connect with them. You need an expert in that culture that speaks the same language and understands the groups’ beliefs that influence their purchasing behavior. I hope that in your next study, you consider COMARKA to team up with your company to connect with Latinos and generate growth.

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