Relate & Don’t Speculate

Multicultural audiences are the fastest growing population segments (now about 34% of the U.S. population), and by 2017, they will have an estimated combined buying power of $3.8 trillion. Yet, creating ads for multicultural audiences is very difficult, and often doing it wrong is worse than not doing it all. Relying on stereotypes or specials times of the year (Black History and Hispanic Heritage months) rub minority consumers the wrong way and often trigger negative feedback.

So, how do you reach these consumers? Pamela Marsh, group director-primary research and insights at the Omnicom media agency states, “Ad relevancy is more about communicating in kind than speaking in language.” Meaning, you reach these consumers by researching and understanding consumer values, then creating ads that are culturally relevant with multicultural cues, such as ethnic characters, phrases, expression and values.

Many companies are turning to social media platforms to target multicultural consumers because of the audience’s influence and presence in the social media sphere. For example, 19% of all online adults use Twitter. Of this audience, 26% are African-American and 18% are Hispanic American. Along with presence on Twitter, Hispanic Americans adopt new media technology quicker than non-Hispanics and visit social networks 3.6 times a week on average. This trend towards constant technology integration in daily life along with the presence of multicultural consumers on social media provides an opportunity for companies to engage with theses consumers in an authentic approach.

Along with its effectiveness in reaching multicultural audiences, social media also allows for the micro-targeting of specific co-cultures within diverse communities so that companies can move beyond strategies targeting general ethnic categories and specifically engage with the co-communities that exist within these groups. For example, instead of just targeting Hispanic Americans, companies can now target Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, etc.

By researching and understanding cultural values and then including the multicultural tactics in your overall marketing strategy, you can use social media to engage multicultural consumers. Remember, seasonal or one-off approaches or simply translating content, do not resonate well with multicultural consumers. But, if done successfully, social media provides the opportunity for companies to connect with multicultural consumers on ideas, products and services.


2 thoughts on “Relate & Don’t Speculate

  1. I love your title for this post! Consumers of different ethnicity and cultures most definitely know when you are truly invested in gaining their business. Companies that are learning and studying the culture and values of these multicultural consumers before implementing a marketing strategy are doing it right. As you stated above, diversity is on the rise in America and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the near future. It is so important for marketers to get in tune with these individuals if they want to have any chance of growth and survival in the future.


    1. Thanks for the additional thoughts! It’s clear that marketers targeting ethnic minorities have not yet tapped the full potential of their brands with minorities and need to develop better consumer insights to support their marketing efforts. Part of the reason for the slow progress of targeting minorities is a failure to do the right kind of research that uncovers effective cultural insights and helps marketers properly understand the needs, culture and lifestyles of ethnic consumers. Which, unsurprisingly, effective cultural insights are necessary when creating effective advertising ideas and to avoid stereotyping.


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