The Future Isn't Multicultural, Your Consumers Today Are

March 18, 2021 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

In 2011, we took to pen and paper to ideate an amalgamation of terms to name our market research company and carve out our industry niche.  A year before, the 2010 Census came out. It was clear that the Hispanic population in the U.S. was growing, and companies and brands needed to take notice of this bourgeoning consumer group. More than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was due to an increase in the Hispanic population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Hispanic population grew by 43% during that time. By 2010, Hispanics comprised 16% of the total U.S. population. The Asian population also saw a spike, growing faster than any other major racial group.

Despite the growth, many organizations didn’t know how to tap into the opportunity. Apart from word-for-word translations of English language ads, multicultural marketing was scarce. In response, Hispanic-focused agencies specializing in Hispanic marketing began to emerge. As a market research startup uniquely positioned to pull the curtain back on this consumer group, we, too, saw ourselves as part of the solution. We gravitated to words like multicultural and Hispanic in our naming conventions but quickly realized that doing so only made us sound like everyone else. Those terms represented our focus but did little to convey our company’s mission and values.

We wanted to help organizations understand multicultural consumers as they acculturated to the American ethos. This meant moving beyond mere data points to the cultural nuances driving behavior and purchase decisions. The challenge was convincing organizations that Hispanic consumers were a force to be reckoned with and that those who got in early would be the victors down the road.

It became clear to us that these organizations needed to think about this now, not later. That line was the lightbulb moment, and ThinkNow officially came into being.

Ten years later, tremendous progress has been made in multicultural marketing. Companies have moved beyond translation to include transcreation which humanizes messaging for the audience, evoking the same emotional response the original copy intended but in the targeted language. Yet, we still encounter Fortune 500 companies that do not understand that today's consumers are multicultural and that yesterday's messaging doesn’t resonate.

Multicultural Consumers Disrupt the Status Quo

Here are the facts:

Over 40% of the U.S. population today is multicultural, according to the 2019 U.S. Census. The balance of the population is 60% White, the lowest level in recorded history.

Race and Hispanic Origin in the U.S.

Hispanics comprise the largest Non-White ethnic group in the U.S. at 18.3%, followed by African Americans at 13.4%, and Asians at 6%. While population growth among these demographics, and the broader U.S. population, is slowing down, 1 in 4 U.S. consumers, i.e. buyers, are multicultural.

Asian Americans

Asian American Millennials are rising stars in the cultural influencer market, outspending American Baby Boomers, and emerging as pioneers of technology and innovation.

Having surpassed Hispanics as the fastest-growing minority group in the U.S., Asian Americans’ collective spending power is quickly becoming a focal point for aspiring brands. During an episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Selina Guo from Admerasia sums up this consumer succinctly with the acronym FACT, meaning Fastest-Growing, Affluent, Culturally Confident, and Trailblazing.

Black Americans

Black consumers have been leading a cultural revolution in the states, shedding light on the systemic racism that has plagued our country since its inception, including the biases tucked away in marketing and advertising. They are and have been instrumental in defining popular culture. Brands are starting to acknowledge the power of the black consumer by dedicating resources to help black causes across the country, hiring diverse creative teams, and producing culturally relevant marketing.

The New Normal is Multicultural

The consumer archetype of the past is long gone giving rise to ethnically and culturally diverse segments of the population that wield tremendous power and influence. Cancel culture is thriving, and multicultural consumers are keenly aware of brands just “phoning in” their commitment to culturally relevant marketing. Understanding how multicultural consumers are using and redefining products and services is essential to creating sustainable change and lifelong fans.