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Three steps to a better grasp of multicultural audiences

Rebecca Chen

As we live in an increasingly majority-minority nation, multicultural marketing is no longer a “nice to have,” but a mandatory tactic for sustained brand growth.

—Rebecca Chen, Strong Roots

At the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in 2017, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard famously stated, “If you are not doing multicultural marketing, then you are not doing marketing.” That was a key light-bulb moment for an entire industry. It spotlighted the necessity of reaching multicultural consumers. Unfortunately, the speed of progress is still much behind where it needs to be.

As the former brand manager at Anheuser-Busch leading multicultural marketing efforts on domestic and international brands alike, I’m a firm believer that everyone should understand the importance of reaching multicultural audiences — and that everyone can do so.

Group of children photographed from above on various painted tarmac surface

Photo: Getty Images

The three steps below should help dispel the myth that reaching multicultural consumers is something that only “multicultural experts” can do. Everyone can achieve a better grasp.

1. Form your own (informed) point of view.
Many agencies and independent consultants will pride themselves on being “multicultural” (or Latinx, African-American, or Asian-American) experts. While it is true that it is always valuable to get the point of view of those closest to the community and culture one is trying to reach, ultimately one person/agency cannot be the spokesperson of an entire community, culture or mix of communities and subcultures. Additionally, as the brand expert, you are the only one who understands how certain cultural nuances are relevant to, and can intersect with, your brand. Therefore, it’s important to form your own — informed — point of view.

2. Become obsessed with getting into the shoes of the consumer.
No different than reaching any target consumer group of any brand, an obsession with understanding the multicultural audience you are trying to reach is imperative. Take advantage of cultural moments and events such as Latinx Heritage Month (which takes place every year from mid-September to mid-October) or Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (every May) to make the most of the ongoing panels, talks, discussions and events in most major cities. Not only will the events be a great opportunity to learn and discuss, but meet relevant stakeholders and influencers in the community.

3. Understand the nuances, but also highlight shared experiences.
In doing a deep dive on Latinx and Asian-American consumers, it was often brought to my attention that one couldn’t simply lump together all Asians or Latinx consumers — especially as country of origin could dictate differences in language, culture, tradition and acculturation. That being said, one should not shy away from highlighting the shared, for instance, “pan Latin,” broader “Asian-American” or “Afro-Latinx” experiences, especially as brands can use their platform to bring together communities. Highlighting shared experiences in a tasteful way will enable the brand to have a powerful message at scale.

Rebecca Chen is the U.S. commercial lead at Strong Roots. Earlier this year, she was recognized as part of PRWeek’s “Women to Watch.”


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