David Wellisch on Gaining Cultural Fluency to Win in Multicultural America

When studying the demographics of the country, you see that all the growth is being driven by diverse America.  

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April 5, 2023
David Wellisch – CEO and Co-Founder

When you then go into these segments, what you learn is that they think about the world differently. Their values are different, their passion points are different, and their memories are different.

Applying this to marketing and response rates, 1 percent of a response rate in these marketplaces is worth a ton of money. So, it ends up that there’s nothing more powerful from a marketing perspective. The more you help corporate America and brands truly understand diverse America, the better they will serve and amplify diverse American voices. It’s a win-win.

So, after my time at AOL, I left to launch the first incarnation of Collage, which was the Latinum Network. It was a very similar company, focusing on the U.S. Hispanic segment. Fast forwarding a bit—several years ago we were continuing to expand our scope and changed our name to represent the collage of consumers in America.

It’s been a great adventure studying consumers from a race and ethnicity standpoint, from a gender and sexual orientation standpoint, from a generational lens and, more recently, parents and kids.

The growth in America is coming from diverse consumers, and now about 42 percent of America is multicultural, so we’re driving toward a minority majority country. So, you pause and ask the question, “Okay, now what? How do we market to American consumers?”

That is a difficult puzzle. The difficulty is not helping people get it—I think most marketers get it, and they acknowledge the demographics. Many marketers are concerned that the cultural resonances won’t translate, or that they even may cause some kind of backlash. Or, when speaking to Hispanic consumers, do I run an LQBTQ+ campaign?

The fact is that marketers are concerned that what works with one group might alienate another. This is especially true for many older brands that have long-established brand equity among white consumers. Marketers consider whether a multicultural-themed ad will turn off these segments, especially the older white consumer. They have limited budgets, so the stakes are high.”

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David Wellisch

David Wellisch

David Wellisch is CEO & Co-Founder of Collage Group, the leading source of cultural intelligence about diverse consumers. Since the inception of Collage Group in 2009, David has led the company through growth, now serving more than 300 brands in across 12 industries. David is passionate about entrepreneurship and company building, and often works directly with members to help guide the integration of diverse consumer insights and marketing strategies.

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