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Getting Real: Ethnic Marketing Strategies for a New Era

We’ve all heard the news reports and seen the numbers; America is getting more and more diverse each year. The old days of advertising, where a simple, singularly-focused targeting strategy would reach the masses, are long gone. We’ve moved beyond the longstanding norm where the vast majority of the consumer buying power in the US fell within one very homogenous audience: middle-class, white, homeowners. The market is much more complex and fragmented, now.

According to the Multicultural Economy Report from the University of Georgia, Blacks, Asian-Americans and Native Americans have an estimated combined buying-power of $2.4 trillion, and all on their own, Hispanics tout $1.5 trillion in spending power in the US. To put this in perspective, if Hispanic-Americans were their own country, their GDP would be somewhere between South Korea’s and Australia’s. White consumers may still make up the largest share of the US market, but they have seen the slowest rate of growth in their buying power compared to other ethnic groups.

What does this mean for your media plan? Well, it’s past time to adapt to diverse consumer audiences in America. By 2050, minority groups will represent the majority in the US. Currently, Nielsen reports that 24% of households in the US are considered multicultural, and this group is expected to increase, especially as Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American communities grow. Simply put, If you aren’t employing ethnic marketing strategies, then your brand is lacking strategies for growth and scalability, as well.

Ethnic Marketing Strategies: Best Practices

As you set out to create your multicultural strategy, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every brand, budget, market and audience is a unique case. Within these very flexible parameters, there are some best practices to follow to ensure that you successfully harness the buying power of multicultural consumers and prevent waste within your media budget.

1. Learn Your Biases, Then Forget Them

Biases and stereotypes exist in all of us, and they exist in all areas of culture. Ethnic identity, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion and other cultural identifiers, especially those that we don’t relate to personally, can provoke these often unconscious influences and feelings. Stereotypes even exist in relation to what state someone lives in or what type of car they drive. These seemingly harmless presumptions are nonetheless false and will have a negative impact on your brand’s messaging if not considered.

For consumers who are at the very least unimpressed by and at the most critical of the portrayal of themselves in media, delivering refreshing, informed creative that they can relate to will increase your favorability in their eyes. The first step to creating relatable content is to identify your own biases and stereotypes and then disregard them. Not all Hispanics love soccer, and not everyone in the Black community listens to hip-hop. Only by clearing this clutter from your creative process can you approach these groups respectfully and authentically.

2. Speak Directly to your Audience

No matter how much money you throw into ethnic marketing strategies, unless you make an effort to truly understand your audience, you won’t see a positive ROI. Familiarize yourself with the problems they face and how your brand is uniquely qualified to address them. This means taking the time to learn about their culture and successfully demonstrating that knowledge in your creative.

To speak to your audience, you also need to find them. Every group interacts with media differently, and you’ll have to do your research to make sure your ad dollars are going to the right channels. African-Americans, for instance, use Twitter and Instagram more - and Pinterest less - than other groups in America. That is one small example, but broad analysis of data such as this will strengthen your multicultural media plan.

3. “Diverse” Doesn’t Mean “Multicultural”

When brands hear that their media plan should reflect the diversity of the nation’s consumer base, brands typically answer this need by introducing more diversity into their total market campaigns rather than dedicating spend to a targeted multicultural campaign. Representing a diverse group of people in your creative is not wrong by any means, but it is not what we mean by multicultural advertising.

Including more people of color in your general creative or showing the same ad in both English or Spanish does not take into account the unique cultural identities of minority groups. Trying to appeal to everyone at once in your total market campaigns inadvertently means that you ignore the need for cultural nuance and instead rely on lip service.

4. Nuance, Nuance, Nuance

According to the US Census Bureau, a multicultural consumer is someone who identifies as Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Native American or as two or more races. However, this definition paints in broad strokes. Within these identified ethnic groups, subgroupings exist, and culture becomes more intricate.

Many things affect cultural identity, including the level of assimilation with mainstream culture, family history, geography, socioeconomics and more. A Puerto Rican family in New York and a Mexican-American family in Arizona would have many cultural differences, for instance - anything from the music they listen to to the food they eat - but both families are a part of the Latino community in America. Ethnic marketing strategies seek to tap into this nuance when advertising to specific groups.

In the pursuit of nuance, improved analytics in digital advertising have enhanced audience targeting tactics. By providing more information and greater accuracy, we can successfully create and distribute ads to a narrowly defined and attentive audience. However, in order to nail all the subtleties of multicultural advertising - the cuisine, the attire, the appearance, the music, the language or dialect - research must be one of your foundational multicultural media plan objectives.

5. The Value of Non-Traditional Media

Multicultural consumers tend to be younger than the average age of your total market audience. In 2017, 42% of American millennials identified as multicultural, and the group is invariably growing. 53% of Generation Z identify as multicultural. With this in mind, ethnic marketing strategies should utilize less traditional channels to get your message out.

Non-traditional media falls outside of your typical advertising channels (television, radio, print or traditional out-of-home). Some examples include transit ads, digital signage or strategic brand partnerships with other brands firmly embedded in the target market.

Non-traditional approaches to advertising - especially those utilizing technology - appeal to a younger audience more than say, an ad in a newspaper. Whether you’re seeking out spaces online or in real life, remember that different groups of people consume media differently. Part of a successful media strategy is to determine the best way to get your message in front of them.

What is Your Multicultural Media Strategy?

A multicultural approach may not always be a necessary component of your campaigns, but if it is, the media stewards at The Ward Group will help you establish and implement a media plan to reach your chosen audiences. We take the time to gain a firm grasp on your brand, your message and your target market, including the unique cultural identifiers that will help us leverage this advertising tactic. We can utilize audio, video, digital, print and out-of-home channels to best reach your audience where they are, using analytics and thorough research to strengthen our efforts.

Whether investing in ethnic marketing strategies is the right move for your brand or not, the fact remains that you still need a solid media strategy in place in order to milk the most out of your budget. With over three decades of experience, our media planners and buyers will help you determine your objectives, your audience, advertising channels and anything else under the media sun. To start planning for your next campaign, connect with The Ward Group today.

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