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Media Planning and Buying Agencies Need to Think Multiculturally

According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), advertising to multicultural consumers in the U.S. made up just over 5% of total media investments in 2019. That is incredibly low when you consider the percentage of Americans who fall into one of the multicultural groups of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans. In 2016, Statista reports that these Americans made up almost 40% of the population. By 2060, these groups are expected to make up more than 55%. Therefore, the fact relatively small marketing budgets are dedicated to pursuing these consumers is a huge mistake.

Even when advertisers do recognize the need to market to these groups, they usually approach planning and buying in nearly the same way they look at the general market. Case in point, it’s not uncommon for brands to repurpose the same creative on English and Spanish-language TV networks with little or no adaptations. Media planning and buying agencies need to think more critically about the changing culture of America and what they can start doing now to begin the pivot to a future media strategy.

In the future, multicultural marketing will just be marketing; if you get into that mindset now, you’ll be better equipped later.

Understanding Notions of Culture

In the US, multicultural groups tend to be very acculturated, but many characteristics they possess are still distinct from the general market. The general market can be synonymous with a generic consumer, while Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans along with other groups have unique psychographic and behavioral differences that need to be understood.

These consumers do not lag behind general market trends, but in fact are at the forefront of social and demographic shifts in America. Therefore, it is important to understand our evolving culture and use this knowledge to inform your tactics for communicating more effectively.

For instance, multicultural consumers tend to be younger. The Pew Research Center found that 48% of Gen Zers are from communities of color. For these consumers, identity and personalization are very important, and they are very sensitive to any creative that does not seem to be authentically speaking to them.

Multicultural marketing is not simply about targeting a general area or even a single household. These groups may be just as fragmented as the media they consume. Within a single household, there are several layers of media consumption that you can utilize to put your messaging in context, including the platform someone is using to access content, the service they’re streaming content on, the type of device they’re using, the room they’re in, the time they’re accessing content and if they are with others or alone.

Utilizing Streaming and Social Media

Streaming and social media should be at the core of a successful multicultural strategy for media planning and buying agencies. These may be newer considerations for marketers relative to other media channels, but multicultural consumers are leading the charge in their usage. As they tend to be younger consumers, most are very tech savvy and comfortable regularly engaging with these platforms and services. If you can learn how to harness these media channels, you’ll be able to intercept multicultural consumers where they live, work and play.

We’ve been hearing about and learning how to deal with the fragmentation of digital media channels for some time, and it’s not different with multicultural consumers. You won’t find them all in one place or all behaving the same way, but there are some general behaviors that you can use to inform more nuanced, granular planning and buying practices.

MAGNA and Vevo conducted research examining how Black, Asian and Hispanic Americans stream video content to see how it differs from a general market consumer. They found that Asian and Black Americans are more likely than other groups to seek out videos on mobile devices or connected TV (CTV), and when they do, they lean into sports and music content the most. Black Americans in particular are more likely to stream content for longer durations and are more attentive to ads they see on CTV.

Hispanic Americans are also more likely to view videos on mobile devices than other platforms, especially those consumers looking for Spanish-language content. English-speaking Hispanic consumers are more likely to engage with content for longer durations compared to Spanish speakers, and they prefer watching on CTV. They are also more receptive to ads viewed in this format. Their preferred content? Latin music, of course.

The goal of this type of research is to not only understand how your target consumers are using social media and streaming services, but to help you better utilize these channels to connect with them. You need to understand the context of each media channel and how it speaks to a specific group.

Think Beyond National Buys

America is a huge country with many different regions and subcultures coexisting alongside each other and sometimes overlapping. This makes geography more than just a location to target but part of cultural identities. Hispanic Americans in New York are very different than Hispanic Americans in Los Angeles, for example. Our major cities are at the center of these geographic identities.

According to Census estimates, nearly one third of US consumers live in the top 10 US markets, and this coverage extends to over 44% of multicultural consumers. These areas are the origins of trends in mainstream culture, either buying or creating what the general market soon adopts. In a multicultural strategy, these metro areas are the place to start. Media planning and buying agencies should make a point to pursue local placements that are both independent of and in conjunction with national ad buys.

Reap the Long-Term Benefits

Advertising is at an important pivot point in its history. As more consumers move away from traditional channels such as TV and print, brands have definitely suffered by relying on these channels for short-term gains instead of focusing on building strong, enduring connections. Couple that with a progressively younger and more diverse consumerbase, and it’s no surprise that older brands such as Wal-Mart, Progressive or McDonald’s are having such a difficult time staying relevant.

Media planning and buying agencies need to understand the context in which they are creating their multicultural marketing strategies. Which consumers are you interested in? How do they access content? Where can you meet them? If you can answer these questions, you’ll be in a much better place moving forward because multicultural consumers aren’t going away. They’re only accumulating more buying power and influence in the market.

By planning for a multicultural market now, you’ll be ready in 2060 when brands are trying to figure out how to advertise to the first Martian generation. And if you’re looking for a little assistance, The Ward Group is here to help! As one of the top media planning and buying agencies in Dallas, our media stewards have spent several decades watching the market evolve, so we’re ready to help. Planning for the future should happen now. Contact us to get started!

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