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Meet Mario Carrasco of ThinkNow in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mario Carrasco.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mario. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always been interested in human behavior. I studied English literature in school because I was fascinated by other’s people stories and felt that literature was the best way to understand different perspectives. I taught high school English after graduate school because I had no idea what else I could do with an English degree. I quickly learned I was not a good teacher and Googled, “what can I do with an English degree?” and marketing was the first thing that popped up. I cold emailed a publication called, Hispanic Business, whose founder was a Ph.D. in literature and pulled on his heartstrings being Latino and an English major. I was hired as an entry level marketing manager and worked my way up to marketing director. It so happened that this position combined my passion for human behavior through marketing, my English/Spanish bilingual background, and burgeoning passion for representing the underrepresented through marketing. I found myself gravitating towards the market research aspect of marketing as that was the clearest picture of human behavior and its implications on everyday decisions. After Hispanic business, I worked at MSN Latino briefly and then got a dream position at a small market research firm dedicated to multicultural consumers in the U.S. That firm was purchased by a large firm in 2010 and my business partner and I decided not to go along for the purchase and started ThinkNow in 2011.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. The first several years were smooth, we were doubling in revenue year over year without any outside investment. In 2015 we lost one of our largest clients and recovering from that was a long hard road. However, flash forward and we learned from the mistake of concentrating too much revenue in one client and development of our marketing and sales. This year we are already on our way to a record year.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ThinkNow – what should we know?
Our Mission: Amplifying the Voice of Multicultural Consumers

ThinkNow was founded in 2011. Both Roy and I came from a boutique Hispanic market research firm that was purchased earlier that year. We had the opportunity to join the new purchasing entity as executives but decided against it after careful consideration. We were passionate about multicultural research and felt that going along with an acquisition to a much larger company would minimize the amount of multicultural research we’d be doing.

Furthermore, Roy and I believed that multicultural research shouldn’t be relegated to a multicultural department within a multinational corporation or the Hispanic research “person” within a company. The impact of multicultural consumers is bigger than that. They make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, fueled by younger generations, like Gen Z, who have the honor of being the first majority-minority generation in the U.S. We believed that multicultural consumers were better served by creating a market research company whose sole mission was to debunk misconceptions and elevate understanding of multicultural consumers.

The Vision

The company we envisioned and went on to build would help organizations understand the cultural nuances that influence purchase decisions, like those from the Latino family interested in family-focused features in a vehicle (as they are more likely to have children in the household) to the Asian-American household looking into retirement planning services for their parents (as they are more likely to live in multigenerational households).

While our value proposition has always been our ability to expertly help organizations tap into this audience’s tremendous buying power, the mission was built on our personal obligation to help traditionally marginalized voices be heard in the boardrooms of organizations and see that those opinions have an impact on the products and services that affect their lives every day.

Our Approach

Our approach to achieving these goals have evolved to include cutting-edge technologies. For years, the market research industry did not apply now common methodologies such as online surveys and mobile phone research let alone more disruptive technologies like behavioral tracking and AI enabled qual boards to multicultural respondents. But now, multicultural consumers are more connected than ever before. Applying innovative methodologies to multicultural audiences was a core objective for us not for technology’s sake, but for the fact that it enables the voices of multicultural consumers to be amplified more quickly and at a lower cost than traditional methodologies, expediting adoption of multicultural research as a critical part of the marketing mix among Fortune 1000 companies.

While amplifying the opinions of multicultural consumers through market research is the core of what we do, data quality and representativeness is just as essential to helping us live out our mission. And we are often reminded of its importance. We have worked with many clients who have thought they received data from a representative sample of U.S. Hispanics only to find out through probing that the survey was fielded just in English, thus missing over 30% of the Hispanic population. To provide high-quality and representative research, we embarked upon a less conventional track for a full-service market research company by creating a proprietary Hispanic online panel. Having a proprietary panel in-house allows us to control all aspects of the sampling process from ensuring representativeness from a recruitment perspective to meeting strict data quality standards set by ESOMAR.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’m lucky to have friends and family who have supported me along the way. My wife is my biggest support and cheerleader and I couldn’t have made it through the ups and downs without her.

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