In this article, we critically review the importance of multicultural marketing and how important it is to have a multi-pronged marketing approach to appeal to the new generations. “Multiculturism”, “Diversity”, “Inclusion”, “Representation” are terms that you will often hear in everyday conversation – in real life and on the Internet. These are important terms because they resonate with a large number of Millennials and Gen Z’s.
Right now, 40% of the American consumers identify themselves as multi-cultural who look at brands, businesses, services, and products differently. Since they come from different ethnic backgrounds their expectations from brands vary. Most importantly they expect brands to recognize and value their ethnicities and diverse cultural backgrounds. If a business is unable to recognize the diverse cultural ethnicities that make up the American population, they are missing out on a significant target audience. It is this population that already drives consumer behavior to a large extent and will continue to assume more significance in the coming years.
Multiculturism in the US
Multicultural groups are growing in numbers in the US. If predictions are to be believed then by 2030, only 55.8% of the American population will be white while 21.1% of the population will be Hispanics. There will also be a significant rise in the percentage of the population of Asian Americans and Blacks by 2030. This means that by the time this decade ends, the Whites may no longer be in majority in the US and the multicultural population will continue to rise. Right now, the Millennials are the largest adult generation but Gen Zers (population born after 1996 and aged between 7 and 22) are slowly rising. As these two generations rise in numbers, America will become more diverse, with more ethnic minorities and varying racial structures.
As the racial and cultural structures change, it will have a huge impact on the majoritarian social and political views which will eventually shape the world. In a society where there are diverse races, ethnicities, and cultures living in close proximity, the opinions tend to be more liberal. This is something we are already seeing with the Millennials who are more likely to have liberal opinions and wish to see the world being less judgmental and more open to newer ideas and values. They do not believe in compromising with their views¸ nor do they hesitate in voicing their diverse opinions. In the long run, this will have a vast impact on how businesses function and how society restructures itself.
Multiculturism in Marketing
According to Wikipedia, “the practice of marketing to one or more audiences of a specific ethnicity – typically an ethnicity outside of a country’s majority culture, which is sometimes called the general market” is multicultural marketing. The core of this type of marketing is to look deeper into target demographics to understand consumers’ motivations, purchase drivers, and aspirations.
The new-age consumers – viz-a-viz the Millennials and Gen Z’s – more often base their purchasing decisions on value systems. As a brand, unless you acknowledge their changing value systems and beliefs, you will not be able to make an impression. This is where multicultural marketing and its nuances become so important.
Consumers of these generations are more likely to align with a smaller brand that has inclusive campaigns and acknowledges different identities and ethnicities. According to a report published in Publicis Media’s Moxie, out of every 10 Gen Z’s, 7 align their beliefs and thoughts with causes that are related to identity. 74% reiterate the importance of being comfortable expressing oneself which is a stark increase from 37% of millennials feeling so. Another interesting piece of data shared by this research highlights how Gen Z tends to be more frugal in their expenses (83%), saving more and spending only on practical products and services that have a high value. This exclusive and detailed study further recommends that brands who want to successfully reach the Gen Zs must first aim for transparency and speed.
In multicultural marketing, breaking stereotypes while representing ethnic communities and racial identity is important. You must adopt a strategy where you convey messages after genuinely understanding consumer needs, their social-economic, and cultural background, and so on.
If we are to define the core of multicultural marketing, then it would be to strategize marketing plans that are based on empathy.
Recognizing the Effects of Covid-19 in Multicultural Marketing
Another factor that will play a defining role while addressing the younger audience in the coming years is the effects of Covid-19 on their formative years. We must address the socio-cultural impact that the persistent lockdowns and restrictions will have on the young minds who will in a few years be making purchasing decisions. Their social media and digital usage will have accelerated, and they will be more aligned to social movements such as #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and so on. This section of the audience will explicitly support brands which value lives, cultures, and honor inherent differences. Their long-term loyalty will be shaped by their opinions that are formed by social media and digital consumption.
Reaching The Tech-Savvy Hispanics – A Step in The Right Direction
We already know that the younger generation is more tech-savvy and is willing to accept new ideas, trends, and messages than the older generation. If relevant messages are incorporated in advertising, they can reach Millennials and Gen Zs faster.
But if we talk about ethnicities and how quickly they adopt new messages, then we must talk about the Hispanics who are usually the early adopters of technology. From smartphone usage to streaming videos on smartphones and tablets, they are always ahead of the non-Hispanic community. There is a 90% more chance of Hispanics streaming video content on their smartphones or tablets than a non-Hispanic consumers. Irrespective of their age, Hispanics tend to rely on and believe in digital platforms for information and entertainment. According to a report, almost half of the Hispanic millennials use Snapchat which is 20% more than how non-Hispanic millennials use the social media platform. Moreover, Hispanics across generations are more likely to recommend digital content to their friends and family – something that doesn’t happen so much among other American communities.
All of this indicates that targeting Hispanics with digital content and marketing can be fruitful in the long run as their purchasing decisions are built on what they see online.
Keeping this in mind, targeting the Hispanics with fresh and progressive marketing strategies can work well for your brand. In fact, according to a PwC report, a majority of first, second, and third-generation Hispanics are automatically drawn to content that reflects their language and culture. If brands can cohesively tap the diversity that exists within the American community, they can make a huge long-term impact. Similarly, it is important to note the diversity that exists within the Hispanics and to mold marketing strategies according to different language preferences, age, culture, and nationality.
Content amplification across digital platforms is a must if you are targeting the Hispanic population. Here, you may use Spanish to disseminate information or mix English and Spanish to target a wider section of multi-generational Hispanics.
Research conducted in the last couple of years highlights how consumer behavior is driven by what consumers see online. The global social media ad spends reached $84 billion in 2019 – the first year in advertising history when social media spend was more than print media spend. In the US alone, Facebook ad spend reached $25.56 billion the same year – a 107% increase from 2016.
Why Inclusivity Matters in Multicultural Marketing
While targeting the multicultural ethnicities in America, it is important to not stereotype them according to conventions and accepted norms. This is a tricky path to tread especially for smaller brands and businesses. But if you play your part of a conscientious business well, you will value the nuances that differentiate cultures and ethnicities (even when they are broadly put under a single umbrella) and develop your marketing strategies accordingly.
How you address and look at the multiple ethnicities is important. You must recognize that every Hispanic is not Spanish and every Asian is not Chinese. According to a Pew Research Center study, one-quarter of US Latinos identify themselves as Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, or with roots in Latin America. According to the research, a large section of Latinos is more likely to identify themselves as Afro-Latinos or Afro-Caribbeans. This information is of strategic importance for brands as each type of Latino will have different cultural references and understanding which may differ from your broad ‘Latino’ stereotype. Moreover, if your business is based in Latin America, understanding the specific demographics can play a deciding factor in how you reach them.
Though stereotypes indeed exist in marketing and advertising, norms are being broken every day – and positively. Major brands have acknowledged the nuances that exist in multiculturalism and are using them to share stories and messages that can have a deeper and more far-reaching impact.
Adidas’ “Here to Create” ad was an acknowledged celebration of diversity that brought many celebrities such as Aaron Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Lionel Messi, Von Miller, and others to a roundtable. The “Calling all Creatives’ was an attempt by the sports brands to start the conversation about creativity amidst diversity. Adidas successfully managed to emphasize the point that when it comes to creativity, there is no gender, no border, and no race. This digital marketing campaign attempted to unite everyone while acknowledging the diversity that exists in any ‘roundtable’.
Similarly, many other brands are using digital platforms to start conversations regarding diversity, ethnicity, and inclusivity. Nuances that make people different yet similar are now being openly discussed and it is a welcome change in the marketing world when ideas and messages were painted with a single brush stroke.
Cross-racial and ethnic representation in advertising and marketing is what will make you stand out today. If you are talking about multiculturalism in your marketing, you need to show that it’s just not talking but also genuine action. This is something that consumers expect from brands and businesses today. According to the Deconstructing Diversity study which studied responses from 3500 US citizens, 80% believe brands can play a huge role in cultural identification. The study also revealed that 75% of Hispanics and Blacks expect brands to precisely represent their culture. The study further stated that multicultural audiences are 4.6 times more likely to be affected by visual media messages.
Ethnicity is playing a huge role in defining an individual today. A young Gen Z wants to know all about their heritage, wants to see a proper representation of their culture in popular media because they are proud of their heritage. This is something that brands must keep in mind while devising marketing strategies.
How Multicultural Marketing Can Impact a Business
Talk about diversity, ethnicity, and inclusivity isn’t something happening just now. This conversation started a few years back with many big brands aligning their marketing with popular, multicultural sentiments. Of course, it is easy to think that brands align with causes because they are popular at that moment. But when it comes to multicultural marketing, businesses are simply not trying to capitalize on trends like Black Lives Matter. Today brands want to showcase their humane side, they want to become people-friendly, they want to be ‘in with the times and thus they align their marketing campaigns with multicultural sentiments.
But it’s important to note that just campaigning around any Pride Month, Black History Month, or Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t enough. Consumers expect more than just solidarity. They want brands to continuously work for their representation.
According to research, 61% of Americans consider diversity important in advertising while 38% are more likely to trust brands that showcase inclusivity and diversity in their campaigns. This also means that a large number (one-third) of African Americans, Millennials, and LGBTQ+ consumers go-to brands that showcase diverse ads. Failing to represent identities can make consumers boycott brands.
These numbers are significant considering that 37% of the US population right now is made up of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. If they feel they are not properly represented by brands and media, their rejection can cost a business. Brands that are not aligning their campaigns with these sentiments are missing out on opportunities and traction.
The best way to appeal to the diverse American population today is by optimizing your campaign by making them diverse, inclusive, and multicultural. In certain verticals, representation is already quite diverse. For example, 33% of campaigns in the food industry, 30% in healthcare, and 30% in the retail segment are showcasing diversity as we speak. Banking, automobile, and insurance are sectors where multicultural representation is very low.
Seriousness of Multi-Platform Multicultural Digital Campaigns
Consumers are now on multiple digital platforms – be in social media platforms or OTT platforms – they are deciding where to go and what to consume. Since they have so much control (than they ever had before), they are informed, consumers. 80% of consumers are likely to attach their sentiments with businesses that offer personalized experiences. Messaging today cannot be limited to one channel. If consumers are on multiple platforms, so must you be.
Omnichannel campaigns have shown 18.96% more engagement compared to single-channel engagement at 5.4%. It isn’t just major companies that are investing in multi-platform campaigns but even government agencies. The Census Bureau recently invested $500million in marketing campaigns to target audiences in 13 languages. Targeting on digital platforms means businesses must have different campaigns running at different platforms (maybe with similar messages) but targeting nuanced consumers expecting something different from brands.
In digital marketing, serious studies are being made on how ads are portrayed and perceived by groups. The Cultural Insights and Impact Measure created by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) is an attempt at this direction.
It is no longer a secret that if you want to target the Millennials and the Gen Zs you must campaign on digital platforms. Moreover, your campaigns cannot be unilateral or one-directional. Your approach must be to target audiences on multiple platforms and in more than one language. You must also keep in mind the multicultural diversity that exists within the community while strategizing.
To do all this, you need a digital marketing company that understands the nuances and emotions of the new generations and can live up to their renewed expectations. Cyrusson Inc. is a boutique marketing agency that helps local businesses reach their goals with effective online marketing tools and solutions. If you think you need to target the new generation with a multi-pronged approach, get in touch with us. We surely have some cool ideas up our sleeves!