The annual ESOMAR Qual Conference drew to a close on Wednesday. As with most qualitative conferences, it was full of great content. More importantly, it was great to re-connect with many friends and colleagues from 40 countries around the world.
My biggest take-away from this conference was the impact of culture on attitudes and behavior. The culture to which a person belongs has tremendous impact on the choices a person makes and the attitudes a person has toward a product or service. It’s obvious that a culture valuing individualism will view a radical fashion style very differently than a culture that values fitting in with the group. What is less obvious but equally important is what impact the cultural bias of a person’s home, family, neighborhood or area has on their perceptions and behaviors. Several presentations focused on cultural influences and the importance of studying and understanding them.
As qualitative researchers, we often assume that people are mono-cultural. Therefore, we ask their opinion or even watch their behavior, but rarely take cultural influences into account. Failing to take cultural influences into account ignores one of the major influences and leaves our analysis incomplete and possibly even misleading.
As researchers we need to embrace holistic methods that provide a 360 degree view of the consumer and his/her cultural influences if we are to provide an accurate and complete understanding of behavior and potential behavior.