A comprehensive guide to conducting culturally competent market research

Acuity Knowledge Partners
4 min readMar 30, 2023

Businesses seeking to navigate and expand into new markets in today’s global economy should conduct market research that is culturally competent. Culturally competent market research can be defined as the practice of conducting research that takes cultural differences into account and studies the nuances of the target audience. This approach is based on the principle that people from different cultural backgrounds may have unique experiences, attitudes and value systems that impact their behaviour and may influence their purchasing decisions.

Examples of culturally competent market research:

  • Multilingual surveys to ensure all members of a diverse target audience are included in the survey
  • Focus groups with diverse participants from different cultures/backgrounds to gauge insights from various perspectives
  • In-depth interviews with cultural experts (key informants) to gain deeper insight on cultural values, norms and practices
  • Ethnographic studies to observe and document the behaviour of the target audience in their natural environment
  • Collaborating with local organisations with expertise in working with the target audience to ensure the research is culturally appropriate and respectful

Culturally competent market research is beneficial, as target customers and employees are becoming more and more diverse in this digital era. By understanding cultural differences and tailoring their marketing and business strategies accordingly, organisations can build strong relationships with their customers and employees, resulting in increased revenue and productivity, and long-term success. Benefits of culturally competent market research include the following:

  • Helps create culturally sensitive marketing strategies: Researching cultural differences can help businesses avoid making insensitive or offensive marketing communication decisions and help prevent reputational damage. It enhances a brand’s reputation and connection with the target audience, enhancing engagement and sales.
  • Helps identify untapped markets: Culturally competent market research can reveal new markets and opportunities that businesses may have overlooked. By understanding the needs and preferences of different cultural groups, businesses can create products and services that meet these needs and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Promotes inclusion and diversity: By conducting such research, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to inclusion and diversity, helping build brand loyalty and attract new customers.

Culturally competent market research needs a thoughtful and systematic approach for successful implementation. Considerations include using culturally sensitive language appropriate for the target audience, considering the cultural context, for example, beliefs and traditions in the region in which the research is being conducted, and using diverse and relevant research methods.

Steps in conducting culturally competent primary research:

Define the research objectives: It is important to define the research objectives prior to initiating the research, get clarity on identifying the target audience, gain an understanding of the cultural context and carefully formulate specific research questions in line with the objectives.

Select the relevant research methods: Researchers should be careful when selecting relevant research methods, due to the number of options available, including surveys, focus groups, interviews and observation. It is important to select appropriate and relevant research methods based on research objectives, cultural context and target audience.

Recruit a diverse sample: This is essential to ensuring that research findings are, in fact, representative of the target audience. This could include selecting participants from different cultural backgrounds, ages, genders and socioeconomic strata.

Develop culturally appropriate research instruments: Research instruments such as surveys, interview guides and focus group protocols should be developed with cultural sensitivity in mind. This could include using appropriate language, avoiding cultural stereotypes and ensuring the questions are culturally relevant.

Training the research team: The research team allocated should be trained to conduct research in a culturally competent manner. This could include training on the cultural context of the target audience, increasing awareness of and sensitivity to cultural differences and avoiding cultural biases.

Analyse and interpret the data: Once the data has been collected, it is important to analyse and interpret it in a culturally competent manner. This could include understanding the cultural context of the data, identifying cultural themes and interpreting the findings considering cultural differences.

Report and disseminate the findings: The research findings should be reported and disseminated in a culturally appropriate manner by using appropriate language, visual representations and dissemination channels that are culturally relevant to the target audience.


Culturally competent market research is valuable for businesses seeking to navigate and expand into new markets. By understanding the cultural nuances and preferences of different groups of people, businesses can gain valuable insight on the target audience that would inform effective business and marketing strategies. By taking the above-mentioned steps, businesses can avoid costly mistakes, build positive relationships with customers and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help

We are an end-to-end market research consultancy with more than two decades of experience in helping businesses understand the market. We are sector-agnostic and can work across the value chain of a particular sector to deliver value and trustworthy data.

We provide support on functions such as end-to-end project management, questionnaire analysis, comprehensive sample access, data collection and data processing.

About the Author

Akanksha Singh is a Delivery Lead within the Survey Programming and Data Processing line of business at Acuity Knowledge Partners (Acuity). She holds a PGDM in Marketing and Communication and has over 8 years of experience in business development and content marketing for various industries including IT and ITES, Finance Tech, Healthcare Tech, Environmental services and the Insight industry.

Originally published at https://www.acuitykp.com



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