Let's Stop Over-thinking Total Market

December 10, 2015 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

The Total Market continues to cause confusion and discussions regarding the “right” definition and execution of this relatively new concept that has taken the multicultural marketing ecosystem by storm. At the center of the controversy is, perhaps, the definition itself, which defines Total Market as:

A marketing approach followed by corporations with their trusted internal and external partners which proactively integrates diverse segment considerations. This is done from inception, through the entire strategic process and execution, with the goal of enhancing value and growth effectiveness.

This definition, crafted by The Association of Hispanic Ad Agencies, or AHAA, is the best currently available. But in my opinion, the complexity of it reflects an even bigger issue at hand.

Similar to many of the other definitions of total market floating around, all with varying interpretations in execution as well as outright denials of its efficacy, one commonality emerges, and that is this: by definition, Total Market is too complicated.

Is it possible that we’re all making this too hard? Could we take a more Nike approach to it, and “just do it”? Believe it or not, some things really are that simple. And in my opinion, that is what Total Market needs to succeed as a marketing philosophy.

So how does one, “just do it”? We need only look to Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix show, “Master of None,” to see a great example of Total Market from a content perspective. Ansari and his team didn’t strategically integrate diverse segment considerations; they seamlessly weaved diversity into the DNA of the show.

As we know from our research, Millennials are acutely aware of diversity and living it every day, which is likely how Ansari was able to create a show that embraced a Total Market viewpoint almost flawlessly without it feeling forced. This is not to say that only Millennials can execute Total Market strategies, but embracing the inherently diverse millennial mindset is key to reaching diverse segments through Total Market efforts.

Another current artist exemplifying Total Market thinking with ease is the multi-platinum recording artist, Drake, a Toronto native of African-American and Jewish Canadian descent. Drake takes hip-hop and weaves in elements of Jamaican, Afro-Cuban, and salsa rhythms, appealing to a diverse mass audience. Lyrically, he has rapped in Spanish and given nods to the Asian community. A quintessential Millennial with a mixed-ethnic background, Drake embodies Total Market at its best by weaving in diverse segments throughout his music and breaking rap sales records along the way, proving that Total Market is not a nice to have, but a “must have.”

So I have pointed to a couple artists doing Total Market right. But what about companies? My choice to highlight only artists at “peak” Total Market performance was intentional because not many companies have reached this level. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the type of marketing approach defined by AHAA, which takes us back to the problem.

We need to stop over-thinking Total Market.

Let’s take a page from the artist playbook and “just do it.” There is no lack of inspiration as diversity is all around us and continuing to grow. Using the definition of Total Market is a great start, but when attempting to create an effective and meaningful Total Market campaign, don’t let the confines of the definition keep you from just going for it.

This blog post was originally published on Media Post Engage Hispanics, where you can view other publications about Hispanics in America.