2020 ends the ‘General market era’ glorified by Madison Ave. where my career started, and Minority-Majority is officially an oxymoron. The states driving our economy are already majority-Multicultural, Gen Z will be in 2020, Millennials by 2025, Gen X before 2030, the U.S. by 2040.The Census will only reinforce the urgency of revisioning these high value super-consumers who will account for $4.2T buying power next year and all future growth, while Non-Hispanic-Whites decline at an accelerated rate as deaths exceed births, putting brands that don’t do proper Multicultural marketing at risk.
Multicultural marketing spend, currently at $27B or 6% of ad spend vs. 40% of population, will increase to $30B with more investment, cyclical events (political, FIFA, Olympics) and doubling of English-cultural efforts given MCM represents a majority or sizable share of English viewership and even Hispanics watch over 55% of their content in English – but inexplicably, spend will remain below 10% of ad spend, underscoring marketers’ lack of maximizing their brand growth. However,
Multicultural focus in Video content, digital platforms, research, and agencies will accelerate. GM agencies will step up their cultural intelligence and staffing, as ethnic agencies better position their cultural marketing leadership and innate understanding of segment differences and commonalities.
I have a ‘pendulum’ theory that applies to even Multicultural marketing, of paradigms going to extremes before self-correcting in the middle. It is neither about the obsolete ‘siloed’ in-language models in the ethnic womb, nor blended ‘vanilla’ TMA approaches eroding effectiveness and growth. Revitalized MulticulturalCOE experts will proliferate – with deep segment understanding, sales growth and P&L accountability, and cross-functional team synchronicity.
D&I will be 100% table stakes, and this unequivocally benefits the workplace on so many levels, but being housed in HR, it does not replace a multicultural marketing business growth imperative nor linked to the larger priority of quantifying the value of Multicultural targets, and business strategy, metrics, product, offer and customer journey strategies to maximize performance. Then, and only then, does the right marcomm approach and cultural framework matter, which will assuredly have the cultural fluency across the proper combination of marcom efforts in English or in-language that logically materialize – whether unique, universal and/or cross-cultural efforts aka Bicultural, Polycultural, Intercultural or Trans-culturalTM (our word).
But one thing’s for sure, it is not about blending. Most Multiculturals self-identify as hybrid-Americans and want to belong to ‘their’ ethnic community. 69% of Hispanics and AA ‘feel and act differently than their American friends’. This is because Multiculturals’ access to their unique world of media, people, experiences, codes and references sets them apart, increasingly fueled by technology – and this cultural lens shapes their identity, values, influencers, how they socialize, make choices, and respond to marketing. Cultural ties and pride bind communities, with Black consciousness and Hispanics culture/language retention at an all-time high.
Multiculturals prefer brands who showcase their culture and community in mainstream ads in an authentic and empowered manner, and reject stereotypical or assumptive portrayals. Culture is at the core of driving response, with 75% of Hispanics and Blacks’ deeply connected’ to their heritage, even more than five years ago, and 69% ‘want ads featuring people who look like me’. And this applies across generations.
How culture is defined varies across ethnicities even at the lowest common-denominator view, and while significant common cultural values and traits uniquely differentiate each community, it goes much deeper than that. It’s about authentic ‘Bespoke’ representation, and there are many granular ways to analyze and dimensionalize the cultural tenets based on the business, goal, need or insight, and this will continue to increase in complexity. The key is that cultural relevance will remain a critical factor in today’s ever-more personalized marketing environment, and Trans-culturalTM proficiency and targeting will determine what brands win or lose.
We are a Trans-culturalTM
society of young people defined by both ethnicity/culture and individuality, who celebrate diversity, and don’t put differences in a corner. We are all one, and we are all separate. We are all the same, and all marvelously different. This is quintessentially American. By Liz Castells-Heard, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer, INFUSION, 213-688-7217, 213-305-4129, email@example.com, adcastells.com.
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