Multicultural marketing is fast becoming a pressing concern for brands everywhere. As more minorities seek representation in media, marketers too are seeking to represent minorities in their campaigns in order to connect with these minority consumers.
But as many brands as there are attempting this, there are dozens more failing in their attempts. To learn more about this discipline to guide your own strategy, read on for a beginner’s guide to multicultural marketing.
What is multicultural marketing?
Multicultural marketing has many monikers: ethnic marketing, cultural marketing, or diversity marketing, to name but a few.
But at the root of all these names is a shared definition. Multicultural marketing refers to the practice of advertising and communicating with consumer demographics whose cultural history differs to that of the country in which they reside.
Successful marketing appeals to individuals on a personal level. It speaks to them as humans, connecting them with a brand, product, or service.
But of course, in an increasingly global market, consumers are diverse and varied. Consequently, the way you speak to one group will differ to the way you speak with another.
Why does multicultural marketing matter?
Appealing to specific consumer cultures in a way that is thoughtful and delicate is good for your brand.
Firstly and, arguably most importantly, it shows that your brand is progressive. In this day and age, brands are thrust often the spotlight on a regular basis, held accountable by consumers for their ethics and business policy.
Taking a stand on social causes delivers immense PR for brands. One need only look at Nike’s high-profile (and ultimately beneficial) signing of Colin Kaepernick for an example of how ethical alignment can impact a brand.
By creating inclusive and sensitive multicultural branding, your brand is seen as modern and forward-thinking. It’s valuable PR that translates ultimately into sales and engagement, no small boon for your business.
Of course, there is a financial incentive for multicultural marketing — it drives business growth. Those brands that appeal to specific cultures and communities open a conversation, making their product or service accessible and ‘friendly’.
It encourages minority cultures to connect with a brand that understands them on a personal level, fostering a relationship with real longevity.
How to do multicultural marketing (right)
Multicultural marketing is easy to get wrong. To avoid the mistakes, follow the tips below to create a diverse marketing campaign that is sensitive but successful.
Identify the cultures that matter to your brand
As I mentioned earlier, multicultural marketing doesn’t just refer to nationalities and ethnicities. It could be any culture, including sexuality, religion, youth subcultures, and even age demographics such as millennials.
Identifying the cultures you’re marketing to early on provides a foundation for your multicultural marketing, helping guide every strategic decision you make along the way.
Of course, this can get complex. You might market your products to a variety of different cultures.
But your product is universal and many can benefit from it. But your marketing connects individual cultures with your brand, opening channels with new consumer segments.
Acknowledge differences by celebrating nuance
It’s important to remember that even within a culture there are dozens of distinct subcultures, each with its own defining characteristics.
Take the US Hispanic market for example. This isn’t one single culture: it’s comprised of Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans, to name but a few. And even within these subcultures, first-generation immigrants will have a different worldview than second- or third-generation immigrants.
The rise of ecommerce and the availability of comprehensive consumer data through digital has blown open the possibilities for highly targeted multicultural marketing. Brands can build up intricately detailed pictures of their customers to help them craft their marketing.
If you’re starting an online business, consider what data and analytics options are available to you. Apps such as KISSMetrics or RetentionGrid provide in-depth consumer data that help you better understand who your customers are.
And if you’re buying a new business, first see what consumer insight infrastructure is already in place. A strong business is one that both has a comprehensive bank of customer data, and a marketing strategy that capitalizes on this.
Multicultural marketing is all about nuance. Exercise nuance in your campaigns and you will create sensitive campaigns that work.
Know your cultures inside and out
This is absolutely crucial. Don’t go in blind with your multicultural marketing. There are countless examples of brands attempting multicultural marketing, only to end up delivering hackneyed, reductive ads.
These ads only serve to embarrass brands, even potentially damaging them. Consequently, it pays to take the time to understand your consumers’ cultures in depth.
The most rewarding multicultural campaigns are those that celebrate the true reality of life in a minority culture, rather than reducing them to clichés or stereotypes. This means knowing your target culture inside and out rather than from an external perspective.
Conducting this kind of research means reaching out to your target cultures and speaking with them. Discover their pain points and their perspectives, and embrace them in your marketing.
Multicultural marketing is more than a financially-savvy move for your business. It is a sign of progress that gives your brand powerful PR. When you create your multicultural strategy, follow the tips above to craft one that is sensitive, thoughtful, and genuine.