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Beyond Stereotypes: Embracing Specificity for Authentic Multicultural Marketing

Multicultural marketing has emerged as a critical strategy for brands seeking to reach and engage a broader audience in today's interconnected, global marketplace. However, the days of generic, one-size-fits-all campaigns are long gone. Today's discerning consumers demand authenticity and cultural relevance, and it's up to brands to rise to the challenge and meet their needs.

Specificity promotes diversity and increases representation.

Specificity is the cornerstone of effective multicultural marketing. While targeting broader ethnic or cultural groups represents a step forward from the general market, it still fails to address the inherent diversity within these groups. Instead, brands must delve deeper, understanding the nuances, subcultures, and unique experiences that define each audience segment.

Latinx audiences, for instance, are often stereotyped as abuela-focused or reduced to Spanglish catchphrases in hastily translated general market ads. But these tired tropes do not account for the rich diversity, lived experiences and varied levels of acculturation within Latinx communities.

Consumers crave genuine representation and identify with advertising that mirrors how they see themselves and how they live. Whether it's language nuances, celebrating cultural traditions, or portraying diverse family structures, brands that avoid stereotypes will pull ahead.

Consumer scrutiny of DEI remains high.

The rise of multicultural marketing coincides with escalating calls for social justice, particularly in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Since then, companies have woken up to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), creating executive-led initiatives to drive change within these organizations.

However, recent trends suggest that the corporate focus on DEI may be waning. Layoffs within DEI departments and pending lawsuits suggest a decline in DEI efforts, which could impact multicultural marketing strategies.

Despite the corporate ebb and flow, consumer scrutiny of diversity and inclusion efforts or the lack thereof remains steadfast. Consumers are increasingly aware of companies' DEI commitments and hold them accountable through their purchasing decisions.

A recent ThinkNow study found that 72% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that demonstrate genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion. This sentiment is echoed across all demographics, including multicultural consumers.

Multicultural Marketing and DEI have a symbiotic relationship.

Effective multicultural marketing is inextricably linked to a deeply ingrained culture of DEI within an organization. When DEI is embedded in the corporate DNA, it fosters a culture of empathy, respect, and inclusivity, empowering the people behind the brands to create authentic and culturally relevant marketing campaigns that, in turn, reinforce DEI efforts.

The future of marketing is multicultural.

As the election cycle heats up, issues of race and ethnicity are poised to dominate public discourse. Now more than ever, companies need to demonstrate their commitment to DEI.

The future of marketing is undoubtedly diverse. By fostering empathy, understanding, and respect for these audiences, brands will forge stronger bonds, drive growth, and emerge as leaders in multicultural marketing.

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Here's Why Multicultural Consumers Are More Concerned About Privacy Issues

Multicultural consumers, accounting for over 120 million people or 38% of the total population and more than $3 trillion in buying power, are a growing and vital segment of the U.S. population.

Given their significant cultural and economic impact on the market, multicultural consumers are more likely to be concerned about their privacy than White consumers due, in part, to several factors, like discrimination, language barriers, and lack of awareness of consumer rights.

Therefore, it is crucial for businesses collecting and using zero-party data from multicultural consumers to have a robust data governance process that demonstrates a commitment to protecting consumer privacy and using data responsibly.

Data Risk Factors for Multicultural Consumers

Here are a few specific data risk factors that highlight the importance of data governance for multicultural consumers:

  • Multicultural consumers may be more likely to be targeted by fraud. Fraudsters may assume they are less familiar with the English language and societal norms, making them vulnerable or less likely to report fraud because of fear and other external threats.
  • Technology use among multicultural consumers is on par or slightly higher than White consumers, which makes them more likely to be impacted by data breaches. Multicultural consumers over-index on mobile and social media use, which are often targets of cyberattacks.
  • Multicultural consumers may have unique privacy concerns driven by cultural beliefs, which may differ from White consumers. For example, some cultures have taboos about sharing data with medical or government entities and resist it due to fears of how that data could be used against them.

Data Governance Best Practices

Businesses can show their commitment to data governance by taking the following steps:

  • Be transparent about how data is collected and used, and make it easy for multicultural consumers to access, manage, and delete their data. Keep consumers in control.
  • Use data responsibly, respecting the consumer and their right to privacy. Just because consumers are on the internet does not mean their data is up for grabs. This means avoiding fraudulent practices and using data to improve the customer experience, not to exploit it.
  • Businesses should also educate multicultural consumers about their data privacy rights and how to exercise them, making that information easily accessible. That information should also be made available in various languages to reduce barriers to access.

By taking these steps, businesses can build trust with multicultural consumers and demonstrate their commitment to protecting privacy. Data governance is essential for companies that want to succeed in the increasingly diverse U.S. marketplace.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.

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Why Cultural Competence Is Critical In The Age of Multicultural Data

Programmatic media buyers know that multicultural audiences are a rapidly growing and vital market segment. However, advertisers also know that targeting these audiences can be challenging, especially for those lacking cultural competence. Cultural competence is essential for programmatic media buyers aiming to reach multicultural audiences effectively while avoiding costly mistakes. 

What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence is the ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people from cultural backgrounds, values, and beliefs different from one’s own. While necessary for companies and brands aspiring to reach and engage multicultural audiences meaningfully,  cultural competence is essential for programmatic media buyers who rely on data-driven strategies to target their ads.  

The absence of cultural competence in the multicultural data era can have negative consequences for marketers, so it’s important to remember the following: 

  • Data can be biased. The data that programmatic media buyers use to target ads is often collected from various sources, including social media, search engines, and online surveys. However, this data can be biased, reflecting the biases of the people who collected it and the systems they used to collect and analyze it. For example, a social media dataset might be biased toward younger users, or a search engine dataset might be biased toward people interested in specific topics.  

Advertisers unaware of these biases could end up targeting ads to the wrong people or using offensive language in ads, risking the company’s brand reputation and alienating the target audience. 

  • Different cultures have different values and beliefs. What's considered acceptable in one culture might be offensive in another. For example, direct eye contact is considered rude in some cultures, while others assume that those who avoid eye contact are rude. It is important to be aware of the cultural differences between the target audience and advertisers to avoid causing unintentional harm that jeopardizes brand health.
  • Multicultural consumers are more likely to trust culturally competent brands. A study by ThinkNow found that 63% of multicultural consumers are more likely to trust brands that create ads that reflect their culture. When ads are culturally competent, they signal to the target audience that the advertiser understands them and respects their culture. This builds trust and loyalty, which can lead to more sales conversions over time. 

Programmatic Media Tips 

Wondering how to employ cultural competence when using programmatic media to reach multicultural audiences? Here are a few valuable tips:

  1. Be aware of your own cultural biases. We all have cultural biases, even if we're not always aware of them. So, the first step to becoming more culturally competent is awareness. To do this, consider taking a cultural bias assessment or talking with someone from a different cultural background. Then, embrace accountability.
  2. Research the target audience. Once you have acknowledged your cultural biases, thoroughly research your target audience. Delve into their culture, understanding their values, customs and belief systems. This can be accomplished by immersing yourself in books and relevant articles, conversing with people from the target audience and participating in cultural events. 
  3. Use zero-party data from a cultural research company. Zero-party data is voluntarily shared with companies and organizations by customers via surveys, online forms, applications, polls, etc. Cultural research companies can collect zero-party data from multicultural consumers that deliver insights about their culture. This data can inform programmatic media plans that result in culturally responsible advertising. 

By following these tips, advertisers can use programmatic media to reach and engage multicultural audiences respectfully and effectively.

This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.

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Creating Personalized Marketing Experiences with Multicultural Data

As digital marketing continues to evolve, creating personalized marketing experiences for consumers has become critical to successful marketing strategy. In the past, marketers relied on tools like third-party cookies to personalize the customer journey. But with cookies going away in 2024, it’s more important than ever to collect zero-party data to create those personalized marketing experiences while respecting consumer privacy.

Equally as important, however, is the use of multicultural data. The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse, with much of that growth driven by young consumers. Using multicultural insights helps to personalize their experiences, thus creating stronger bonds that ultimately improve business outcomes.

Diversity is driving personalized marketing.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multicultural consumers currently represent approximately 40% of the U.S. population and are projected to account for 55% of population growth over the next five years. Therefore, brands looking to succeed in the U.S. market must understand the needs and preferences of these consumers. It’s important to remember that people change, societies evolve, and cultures shift. Brands that stay attuned to national population trends and behavioral pivots and make efforts to understand the cultural drivers influencing them are in the best position to engage this consumer market successfully.

Zero-Party Data is permission-based.

Personalized marketing experiences are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity. Consumers today expect to receive messages relevant to their interests and needs, and marketers who fail to deliver such experiences will be left behind. One of the keys to creating personalized marketing experiences is the use of zero-party data. Zero-party data is data that consumers intentionally and proactively share with companies. This type of data is valuable because it provides insights into what consumers want. As third-party tracking tools retire, zero-party data is becoming one of the most sought-after permission-based tools for engaging consumers more effectively.

Multicultural data aids cultural competence.

Zero-party data, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. Another key component of personalized marketing is the use of multicultural data. ThinkNow research shows that multicultural consumers have unique needs and preferences, and understanding these nuances is crucial for creating effective marketing campaigns. For example, diverse cultures may have different values, beliefs, and traditions that can influence their purchasing decisions. By understanding these differences, marketers can tailor their messaging to resonate more strongly with multicultural audiences.

Multicultural data can also help brands avoid cultural missteps that could damage their reputation. ThinkNow research has shown that multicultural consumers are more likely to engage with brands that prioritize diversity and inclusion in their marketing efforts and are willing to stop frequenting a store that does not. From campaign strategy to execution, multicultural data can help brands build a deeper connection with multicultural consumers by helping them market in-culture, avoiding common mistakes that could prove very costly.

To effectively use multicultural data, it's important to ensure that it is collected and analyzed ethically and responsibly. Brands must take care to avoid stereotypes and assumptions when analyzing multicultural data and should work to understand the nuances and complexities of diverse cultures. Additionally, brands should be transparent about their data collection practices and ensure that consumers know how their data is being used.

In Summary

Using zero-party and multicultural data to personalize marketing experiences has become a business imperative. Multicultural consumers are a diverse and rapidly growing segment of the population, and brands that don't consider their needs and preferences risk alienating a significant portion of their potential customer base. Cookies are on their way out, so the demand for zero-party data will only increase.

By using these types of data in an ethical and responsible manner, brands can create more authentic and meaningful connections with their audiences and drive business success.

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How Black Americans Celebrate Holidays and Traditions

Celebrations are positive ways for communities to connect and families to bond. How we celebrate differs by ethnicity, values, traditions, and even geography. In honor of Black History Month, ThinkNow conducted a national study of U.S. adults to understand Black Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward holiday celebrations and traditions and how they compare to other demographic groups. This report is one in a series of reports examining how Americans celebrate popular holidays throughout the calendar year. Here’s what we found.

Civil Rights Holidays

Civil rights holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth are celebrated by 50% and 39% of Black Americans, respectively. This compares to 12% of non-Black Americans who celebrate MLK Day and 7% who celebrate Juneteenth. Black respondents indicated they were most likely to spend time with other family members on civil rights holidays. Click To Tweet
Twenty-two percent report attending parades on MLK Day, and 26% prepare a special meal for Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was enacted. While only 12% of the Total Market celebrates Juneteenth, growing pressure from consumers on brands to be more inclusive has stimulated interest in this holiday since 2020.

Patriotic Holidays

Despite racial divides and systemic inequities Black Americans face in this country, they celebrate patriotic holidays at surprising rates. Over 60% of Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July, which is on par with non-Black Americans. Black Americans, however, are more likely to celebrate Memorial Day (45% vs. 35%) and Presidents’ Day (28% vs. 20%) and slightly more likely to celebrate Veterans Day (29% vs. 25%) than non-Blacks. Most Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July by gathering with family and friends (73%) and preparing a special meal (40%). Memorial Day is also an occasion to gather with friends (56%).

Black Americans’ history with patriotic holidays is complicated, however. Click To Tweet
The idea of celebrating the independence of a nation at a time when the vast majority of Blacks were enslaved rang hollow and still does for some today. Or when history neglects to tell the story of thousands of Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, who paid tribute to fallen Confederate and Union soldiers in one of the earliest Memorial Day observances. Over time, these stories have been written out of history books and replaced with commercialism. Today, Presidents' Day is more known for mattress and appliance sales than the first president’s birthday. Perhaps holidays like Memorial Day over-index with Black Americans because they celebrate individuals over the nation as a whole.

Religious Influence

Halloween was one of the lesser celebrated holidays among Black Americans, with only 40% celebrating compared to 49% of non-Blacks. Relatedly, about 60% of Black Americans identify as Christian when asked about their religion. Christians have a divided perspective regarding Halloween festivities, as shown by the nearly equal halves of those who do and don’t celebrate. Among Black churchgoers looking to join the holiday fun without the pagan elements, “Trunk or Treat” events have become popular, including trick or treating in a church environment with non-threatening costumes and no bubbling cauldrons. Interestingly, Black Americans are only slightly more likely to celebrate Good Friday and Easter than non-Blacks (44% vs. 41%).

Party for One

Black Americans are more likely to celebrate certain holidays, like the 4th of July, alone (21% vs. 10%), according to the research, while non-Black Americans were more often celebrating with partners since only 30% of Black Americans are married vs. the national average of 48%. This, however, leads to more time spent with their extended families. For example, 59% of Blacks celebrate July 4th with other family members vs. 45% of non-Blacks. This was also true on military and civil rights holidays, with nearly half of Black Americans celebrating Juneteenth by getting together with other family members on that day.

Spending

Most spending occurs around Christmas with purchases averaging $439 for Blacks and $469 for non-Blacks. Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras are also very popular spending holidays in the Black community with spending averages around $222 and $167, respectively. Halloween spending of $153 for Black Americans is slightly less than the non-Black average of $161.

Conclusion

When it comes to holidays, Black Americans are surprisingly patriotic. They may be a minority in the U.S., but they have more in common with non-Hispanic Whites than Hispanics or Asians when celebrating America and lead the nation in commemorating civil rights holidays. Their religious affiliation makes them more slightly likely to celebrate Easter than the average American, but it also makes them less likely to celebrate “pagan” holidays like Halloween.

Understanding these dynamics is key to providing goods and services that have the potential to make celebrations memorable for the 47 million Black Americans in this country who wield 1.4 trillion dollars in spending power.

You can download the full report here.

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DEI and Executive Buy-In: Why Hiring and Multicultural Marketing Are At Risk

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been at the forefront of public consciousness since 2020. While these tenants were commonly known in academia, awareness among the general public is relatively new. Many companies and brands, in particular, are now grappling with balancing consumer expectations for DEI and navigating their learning curve.

DEI doesn't exist in a silo, however. It's not a department or a destination – it's a journey that winds through every aspect of an organization. It takes the total commitment of executive leadership for DEI to permeate an organization's culture and show up in its practices, from hiring diverse talent to launching inclusive marketing campaigns. This is particularly pertinent for firms interested in multicultural marketing. Firms with little to no representation of diverse professionals will find it challenging to attract multicultural consumers, and these firms may also find it harder to attract qualified candidates. Like consumers, job seekers want to work for an organization that shares their values, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, who comprise a large percentage of today's talent pool.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dominique Dickson, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at Heidrick & Struggles, explains why executive buy-in is crucial for building an inclusive workplace culture, attracting diverse candidates, and achieving better business outcomes.

About Our Guest:
Dominique Dickson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at renowned executive search and leadership consulting firm, Heidrick & Struggles. She began her career there in 2016 as a member of the Global CEO & Board practice that manages recruitment of the world's top leaders across a wide range of industries. Dominique was promoted to the internal DE&I function at the firm in 2021. Prior to joining Heidrick, she held various corporate operations, communications, executive support and project management positions in the legal, asset management and business consulting industries.

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Brand Allies: Seeing Multicultural Consumers As People First, Not Dollar Signs

Multicultural marketing is finally being embraced as a necessity, not a nice-to-have. Marketers have traditionally been interested in marketing to diverse audiences around the release of Census data when they realized the changing demographics of American consumers.

That’s changed within the last two years. Consumers have been more vocal, taking brands to task for cultural insensitivity and stereotypical themes. In response, there has been a more consistent focus on multicultural.

That focus extends beyond just reaching consumers to engaging minority-owned companies, particularly media companies. It's unlikely that a brand can fully engage a diverse group if they are not supporting companies within that group. For example, it would be beneficial for a brand targeting Black consumers to work with a Black-owned media company with access to Black consumers. Understanding that many minority-owned firms may be smaller and unable to deliver the reach necessary makes collaborating with larger firms essential, opening the door for robust supplier diversity programs.

But it’s important to note that building relationships with diverse audiences is a long game. Loyalty comes over time and engaging multicultural audiences thoughtfully and respectfully builds goodwill. Consumers want brand allies who care about what they value and stand in solidarity with them, not brands that just see them as dollar signs.

Tune in to this episode of The New Mainstream podcast where Marina Filippelli, CEO of Orci, discusses the importance of brand allies to building consumer loyalty and why partnering with minority-owned media companies matters.

Marina drives both business strategy and day-to-day operations for multicultural initiatives at Orci, working closely with her team to deliver engaging, effective campaigns that help global brands like Honda, Acura, Dole, VCA, Anheuser Busch, Chevron and ExtraMile build meaningful relationships with diverse targets in the U.S. and Latin America.

With roots in Mexico and Argentina, she has been passionate about communicating with the Latinx community since she first launched her career at Orci, ultimately returning after leading the multicultural division of Heat and client teams at Zubi Advertising and Conexión.

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