Psychology and Ethnicity: Two Great Tastes

Reeses_Peanut_Butter_CupsWhen launching any product, good market research is key. Pharmaceutical company marketing strategies have many stakeholders: doctors and regulators, those that pay and those that consume.  Physician interviews and focus groups offer quantitative and qualitative information to identify the best positioning for capturing market share but often the patient is secondary in the conversation.

As the new Health Care Act moves into place, market research from the patient’s perspective needs to be a focus.  Understanding how patients travel through this new system of healthcare, the decisions they face and how they make them will provide an edge to any brand team wishing to drive uptake.

There are many articles touting the advantages of a psychological approach to qualitative market research.  Knowing the thoughts and feelings behind patient decision making creates deeply effective research.

There are also many proponents of ethnic market research that encourage marketers to reach minority consumers in their native tongue.  These more isolated groups are often untapped sources of valuable information.

Both approaches are great tools on their own but combining them would be the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup of market research.

Asking a young Chinese mother superficial questions about her hepatitis in Mandarin is no longer sufficient.  You need to understand how she mentally approaches a fork in the road.

In the US, most minority individuals are trapped between the traditional values of their parents’ culture and the mores of their new American life.  Psychological probing with cultural sensitivity and grace will uncover the deeper issues driving how this person decides when to go to a doctor, what kind of treatment they desire and if they will adhere to that treatment.

Our Chinese mother needs to be greeted in her own language, made to feel at ease and questioned with an understanding of her deference to her father in decision making, respect for those in authority and her need to avoid conflict.  Both verbal and non-verbal communication should be monitored as her responses will be influenced by both her mindset and her culture.

The understanding gleaned from this combined approach will provide the best analytics necessary to formulate a marketing strategy that includes the patient voice while capturing the best market share.

Combining an understanding of culturally different views with the breadth of psychological processes: two great approaches that work best together.

Sherry Dineen

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