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Your Solutions to Multicultural Marketing: A Perspective from Advantage Communications One Step Forward … Two Steps Back By: Michael Steele, President and CEO Advantage Communications, Inc.

Date: Jan 10, 2012

For years, I’ve been a proud innovator of multicultural marketing. In fact, I can remember when this discipline initially birthed itself upon the shoulders of consumer equality pioneers such as D. Parke Gibson, author of the legendary $30 Billion Negro and $70 Billion in the Black: America’s Black Consumers. Mr. Gibson was a revered pillar amongst African American and business communities as he was not shy about voicing his expertise on the need to diversify corporate America. As a result, he essentially revolutionized the art of marketing.

Beyond Mr. Gibson, several advocates have spoken up on behalf of diverse audiences including Hispanics (now the largest ethnic consumer segment), Asians and the LGBT community – all in keeping with the need to adhere to diversity in the marketing arena.

At its early inception, multicultural marketing was centered on speaking to the needs of diverse communities, which were at the time called “Special Markets” or “Market Development”. As time progressed, several organizations and corporations witnessed substantial growth within these consumer markets and began to realize that such growth could greatly affect their bottom line.

Today, multicultural audiences represent billions of dollars in total consumer spending. According to The Buying Power of Black America, “In 2009, black households spent an estimated $507 Billion in 27 product and services categories.”

As of 2010, black buying power equated to nearly $836 Billion. Hispanic consumers also hold significant spending power. According to a whitepaper published by Mercury Media entitled The Power of the Hispanic Consumer, “By 2017, the Hispanic consumer’s disposable income will have grown 76% to $1.83 trillion.”

I would be remiss to not mention that the Asian market is also growing at a rapid pace in its current and forecasted purchasing power. According to a 2009 Selig Center report, “Asians’ buying power will reach nearly $700 billion in 2014, when their percentage of the population will only spill a little over 5 percent.”

Understanding this power of multicultural consumer spending, today’s marketers are more comfortable in the multicultural marketing space. I even applaud modern-age CEOs/CMOs as they appear to understand the importance of multicultural marketing to their respective businesses and brands. However, what they fail to understand and remain confused about is how to manage multicultural marketing as a successful, functional group within their organizations.

This confusion was further uncovered by a recent survey conducted by AdAge amongst chief marketing officers, senior VPs of marketing and other manager/directors from a variety of consumer-based disciplines. The high-level results were discussed in an article entitled “Marketers: We Don’t Get How to do Diversity.” And by the way, I can’t think of a more appropriate title!

The article noted, “While 84% of the marketers believe multicultural marketing is ‘critical to my business,’ almost 40% said they don’t know the financial value of multicultural groups to their companies.”


Click here to read Advantage Communications’ perspective on how to structure multicultural marketing for success!


Whitney Albert
Account Executive
Advantage Communications, Inc.