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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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Gen Z: Brands Need To Prioritize DEI And Gender Liberation

For someone who has been working in multicultural marketing for almost two decades, the past few years have been transformative. Diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and representation in public and private organizations are works in progress. But the momentum is stronger than it’s ever been. The entrepreneur and somewhat skeptic in me, however, wonders if this is just a phase. Will corporate America move on to the next big thing? There are already murmurs that ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) will be the new focus as DEI demand wanes.

Then I think of Gen Z, the post-millennial cohort which precedes Generation Alpha, born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s. These forward-thinking digital natives have turned our society’s perspective on identity upside down. As such, I am confident that the principles of diversity and inclusion will remain and evolve in the future, creating a true sense of belonging for everyone.

What Makes Gen Z Views So Different?

Gen Z is the first minority-majority generation (if they are the majority, why do we use “minority”? That’s another blog post ...), so it makes sense that their views on diversity and inclusion will be markedly different from past generations. One example illustrated by a Pew Research study shows that 62% of Gen Zers see increased diversity as good for society.

Their views on diversity extend to the companies they show support for through their purchases. A study conducted by Quantilope reports that of 630 Americans surveyed, nearly 80% of Gen Zers said that it’s important for brands to address diversity and inclusion. And their demands go beyond representation and DEI efforts to what is perhaps the most significant catalyst for sustainable change within organizations: corporate leadership. The same survey shows that more than half (53%) of Gen Zers want to see more diversity in senior leadership.

Advocates For Gender Liberation

Race and ethnicity are not the only factors defining Gen Z’s view of diversity. Their opinions on gender are reshaping societal norms, too. According to Pew Research, Gen Z is by far the most likely to say forms or online profiles should include more than the standard binary options of “man” or “woman.”

This young demographic also embraces concepts like neurodiversity and advocates for greater accessibility for the disabled. In a recent article, Forbes contributor and neurodiversity expert Nancy Doyle writes: “For many Gen-Z people, ethics, equity, diversity and inclusion are their motivation and their calling. Workplaces sticking to rigid definitions, mining identity politics for skills that can be exploited without embracing intersectional diversity are going to gain a bad reputation, losing talent.”

This sentiment is echoed in my agency’s diversity and inclusion study, where 54% of Gen Z indicated that D&I should be inclusive of disabled equality. That’s higher than all other groups, with millennials at 45%, Gen X at 48% and boomers at 39%.

So, will corporate America eventually tire of doing the hard work it takes to create more diverse and inclusive cultures, products and services? It is likely. But will Gen Z allow them to pull back their investments? The data says “not a chance.” Gen Z is bold and vocal, and this generation has only known diversity and will demand it with their dollars and their actions.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

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How to Create and Measure Successful Multicultural Marketing

Corporate spend on multicultural marketing is expected to grow in 2022. Some of that budget is likely motivated by a long overdue cultural reconning with racial injustice, and some of it boils down to simple demographic realities. The 2020 Census revealed that the non-Hispanic White population shrank in real numbers for the first time in U.S. history. Minorities accounted for all the population growth over the past decade. Our consumer economy is becoming ever more reliant on multicultural spend, and those consumers expect to see themselves reflected in the media. (more…)

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Coming Into Focus: 2021 Year In Review

This time last year, America was fresh off the high of a change in executive leadership. Americans started rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccinations, and the nation was undergoing a racial awakening generations in the making. Then a week into the new year, democracy was breached, and the ensuing fallout would test the ideals of what it means to be American. In our 2021 ThinkNow year-end report we examine the economic highs and lows of the past twelve months, and how consumers, in their resilience, have weathered the storms by tapping into their power and wielding it to demand a fair and just society for all. (more…)

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Norwalk Brew House, Craft Beer On Purpose

Craft beer brands are carving out a significant niche in the beer industry. Mass market favorites like Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Michelob have dominated grocery and convenience store shelves for years but are now making room for craft beer alternatives targeting a growing contingent of beer drinkers preferring the nuanced flavors of local brews.

But it’s not just the taste of craft beer that’s driving demand among enthusiasts. (more…)

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America Goes Multicultural, Get Ready For The New Norm

In port cities like Miami and New York, it’s common for people of Latin American or Spanish descent to identify with their countries of origin. However, the term "Hispanic” becomes more prevalent the further inland you go, as immigrant communities assimilate to the American way of life defined by labels.

The label “Hispanic” represents a diverse mix of cultures, traditions, and ideals that define this young consumer group wielding its purchasing power in support of culturally sensitive brands. (more…)

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Is Online Sample Ignoring Gen X Consumers?

Sandwiched between silver sneakered Boomers and digitally savvy Millennials, Gen X gets lost on the consumer continuum, only to be upended again by youth, as Gen Z becomes the next media darling. Described as the “ignored generation,” Gen Xers, born between 1960 and 1982, are often accused of contributing less to culture and society.

But is that true? (more…)

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