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Marketing strategy: Use Multiculturalism to reach every customer

America is known as a melting pot for all cultures and multiculturalism is an evergreen topic across many different fields. From representation in popular movies, to equality of opportunity within the workplace, to forging equity in higher education admissions policies, every facet of our society must be transformed to foster multiculturalism.

Marketing is no exception. Marketing and advertising have always intersected with the racial issues of the time, from Pepsi’s niche marketing strategy to Tibor Kalman’s famous use of visual diversity in the United Colors of Benetton campaign. As demographics and cultural paradigms are constantly changing in America, we’re long overdue for a fresh conversation about multiculturalism and marketing. Optimizing your marketing strategy using a multicultural approach means new audiences, new customers, and new heights for your business.

The untapped potential of multiculturalism

Multiculturalism in marketing doesn’t get the respect and attention it deserves. All too often, multicultural marketing strategies are not given their own budgets—instead, marketing to diverse audiences is considered a tertiary factor in a general marketing strategy. Within market segmentation strategies, there is a big emphasis on demographics—black audiences, Latino audiences, Asian audiences, etc. These sweeping categories lack specificity. Instead of appealing to the unique Chinese cultural experiences in America, a lazy general marketing strategy would just run the same ad dubbed in Mandarin. This dumbing down of multiculturalism to small token gestures doesn’t give multiculturalism the credit it deserves, and more importantly, it has created a well of untapped potential for companies that are smart enough to engage earnestly with multiculturalism in America.

How to optimize your multicultural marketing approach

Since multiculturalism hasn’t been effectively integrated into most marketing strategies, many companies wonder where to start. Luckily, savvy marketing professionals all over the world have made serious strides that combine research and technology.

Social media can be a huge boon to your multicultural marketing approach. By using analytics tools offered by Google and Facebook, you can look at your brand message, see how it’s resonating with different communities, and test and refine accordingly. It’s important to note that social media habits vary according to race. For instance, as Jeremy Bradley writes for Chron, black Americans have a greater presence on Twitter compared to other social media platforms. So, if you’re looking to see how your message could resonate with young tech-savvy black Americans, a robust Twitter campaign could be hugely important.

There’s also no substitute for real-world research. In order to truly create an effective multicultural marketing strategy, demographics data and analytics simply won’t cut it. Go out and meet people who are members of your target community. Conduct surveys, host events, and start recruiting in diverse neighborhoods. By going the extra mile, you’ll start to understand your multicultural audience on a personal level—their needs, expectations, interests, and experiences—which will lead to a much more nuanced strategy.

Putting it all together

As it exists right now, mainstream discourses about multiculturalism in marketing have a flattening effect. Nuances between generations, countries of origin, and linguistic differences are all swept into clumsy categories. This is the “legacy model”—marketing according to demographic and just leaving it at that. Marketing professionals should consider the complexity of multiple experiences—not just dealing with race, but with gender, sexuality, age, class, personal interests, and more. Ultimately, there are no losers with this strategy. Through an effective multicultural strategy, you open up your company’s brand to more communities, make them feel welcome, and expand your audience.

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