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The Urgency of Multicultural Marketing

Multicultural groups represent $4.3 trillion in consumer buying power. Welcome to the new super consumers.

October 30, 2018

Across 21 of the 25 major U.S. markets, 84% of consumers are multicultural. This equates to an enormous $4.3 trillion in consumer buying power. By 2044, the nation’s three largest multicultural groups — Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians — will become the new majority within the U.S. population.

This multicultural shift is more than “skin deep.” When marketing to these consumers, brands must consider age, language, unique shopping habits, and establishing a local cultural connection. A total marketing strategy must include a multicultural approach, or marketers risk selling their brands short and leaving opportunities behind.

It’s time to effectively market to the new super consumers.

Traditional Marketing Evolves
The traditional marketing attitude toward the consumer landscape is classified into two broad but distinct segments: the general market (GM), also known as the mainstream, and other niche markets that are categorized as Hispanic, African American, and Asian.

Most companies and agencies are familiar with these segments. Their approach inevitably starts with the research and insights into the general market, and from there a general market strategy and media plan are born. Once the budget and campaign have been approved, and if the product or service warrants enough consideration, only then will separate niche campaigns follow the same process — although they may not necessarily integrate with the general market strategy.

Even though research shows that 67% of chief marketers support multicultural marketing efforts, they may not understand the distinct cultural nuances. For that reason, CMOs often opt for a one-size-fits-all solution for niche campaigns.

Embrace the Cultural Shift
The traditional marketing attitude used to make sense, particularly because of the high number of non-Hispanic whites and their buying influence within the GM culture. However, because of incredible growth of ethnic populations, the assimilation of cultures, and distinct shopping habits, the “mainstream” marketing strategy simply can’t continue to be the mainstream.

Here are some quick stats on how the multicultural consumer landscape is growing:

  • 92% of the total growth in U.S. population within the last 15 years came from multicultural groups
  • 15% of all U.S. marriages are mixed/interracial
  • 42% of millennials are multicultural, and more than 87% use smartphones
  • Multicultural millennials influence more than $1 trillion in consumer purchasing power

Just how much of an impact do these figures have on industry-level growth? A whopping $360.9 billion in additive growth between 2006 and 2016 from multicultural trends, according to a Consumer Expenditure Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Implementing a Total Market Strategy
The message is clear: Marketers must begin to engage consumers with an integrated total market strategy with rich multicultural insights. This approach is positioned to deliver a greater customer experience and potentially exceed the core business objectives.

For example, within the food industry, most national brands have embraced the diverse communities they serve because they face intense competition from independent ethnic grocers. Traditional supermarkets are striving to stay relevant by recognizing their local community demographics and meeting the growing demand for an ethnic product mix.

The integrated total market strategy should also consider multicultural millennials and the younger generations. Because of their long life expectancy, the multicultural youth equates to decades of consumer purchasing power and a significant power of influence. Brands have a prime opportunity to build loyalty early. The result: the potential for a longer return on investment (ROI).

Understand the Why Behind the Buy
Marketers must approach the integrated total market strategy with both quantitative and qualitative data to glean crucial universal and local cultural insights. The marketing research goal should be to understand the why behind the buy, as well as the multicultural relevance for each targeted local geography.

Marketers should look beyond traditional research hubs and data to seek influencers, events, and stories that aren’t covered anywhere else to qualitatively understand and what they want. These insights help shape comprehensive briefs for creative teams so they have the information they need to develop unique, relevant, and local connections through tone, imagery, and cultural nuances for various diverse backgrounds.

Media teams should also be a part of the discovery process. This data would then inform the execution of powerful campaigns. When media is delivered on the right device, and in the right geographies, brands can expect higher engagement, increased loyalty, and greater ROI.

As local communities continue to grow increasingly diverse, multicultural marketing becomes more critical for brands. Marketers must meet the rising demand for culturally relevant brand experiences with an integrated total market strategy to drive business growth and build brand loyalty for years to come.

About the Author

Trinidad Aguirre
AVP, Strategy

​With a natural curiosity, attention to detail, and a commitment to never settle for the status quo, Trinidad helps clients across industries find revenue-maximizing solutions.

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