Audience engagement is the key ingredient in any marketing strategy, as it is the consumer who plays a part in driving the success of a brand. Considering the United States is a very diversified country, it becomes even more essential for brands to take into account multicultural marketing efforts and be mindful of who they are messaging and how. Multicultural marketing, however, is not just about advertising to ethnic consumers. It’s about addressing multicultural audiences with tailored messaging to ultimately lift response and build brand loyalty.
It’d be a challenge to ignore the fact that the United States is comprised of over 320 million people, all of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. According to the 2010 census “while the non-Hispanic white alone population is still numerically and proportionally the largest major race and ethnic group in the United States, it is also growing at the slowest rate”. Asian, African American and Hispanic populations are rapidly growing in the US and continue to grow, further validating the importance of brands taking the initiative to, firstly, understand the multicultural population and, secondly, apply that knowledge to their marketing strategy.
The Hispanic population, in particular, has become a very influential consumer market in recent years. According to the Association of Hispanic Agencies, in conjunction with Nielsen Monitor Plus, the top 500 US advertisers increased their Hispanic (Spanish-language) ad spending by 63% in 2014 from 2010, while their non-Hispanic ad spending increased by 3%, which speaks volumes. One thing to call out from the preceding statistic is that the numbers reflect Spanish-language advertising. Although Spanish is the dominant language spoken among the Hispanic community, it should also be noted that the majority of the US Hispanic population stem from multigenerational and bilingual households. Thus, it takes more than just changing the language of a general market ad from English to Spanish. Research has been conducted to show a Spanish-speaking person does not exclusively consume Spanish-language content – Millennials and Gen Xs alike. It’s less about the language and more about the story/content.
What may appeal to one person and prompt them to engage with a brand may not appeal to another, based on their culture and beliefs – even though the benefits of the product or service may be the same for everyone. A brand showing they understand their audience’s culture and passion points further motivates consumers to incorporate the brand into their lifestyle and into their own social conversations. And there are a few steps for marketers to keep in mind to make this happen:
Education & Training
Marketers do not have to be a specific ethnicity or have a specific cultural background in order to successfully implement a multicultural campaign. It’s more about having the appropriate tools and team put in place, whether it’s on the agency side or the brand side.
Research & Insights
Research should consider any cultural and geographic barriers and use it to identify the multicultural consumer and the brand’s position in key markets.
Providing content that is valuable and relevant is key – whether it is brand-produced content or aligning messaging with publisher-produced content. With mainstream media embracing the “trend” of appealing to the multicultural audience, sponsoring relevant content is becoming more and more feasible.
Reaching multicultural audiences is about building brand loyalty that transcends ethnicities, cultures, beliefs and family traditions while simultaneously creating an environment that provides the opportunity to connect with the brand.
It is every advertiser’s responsibility to ensure any advertising message is appropriate for the diverse consumer pool, where the “one size fits all” way of thinking is no longer acceptable. Just how brands make a conscious effort to adjust their advertisement when trying to reach certain audiences – women versus men, moms versus dads, and millennials versus baby boomers – the same tactful approach should be applied when targeting ethnic consumers. Of course, a multicultural marketing approach is only fitting if it is relevant for the brand. Let’s face it, there are some brands that are not meant for all audience segments, which is understandable. But a huge business opportunity would be wasted if multicultural audiences were not a component of a brand’s marketing efforts.