Aligning Multicultural Marketing to the Evolution of the American Consumer

A 7-Step Guide for Creating An Engaging Multicultural Marketing Strategy

Reading Time: 16 minutes

August 09, 2023
Sudipti Kumar – Director of Cultural Insights

In today’s era of increasing cultural diversity, consumer research professionals play a crucial role in unlocking the full potential of Multicultural marketing. They empower marketers to create impactful campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences and drive business growth.

In the U.S. Multicultural consumers make up 42% of the population, with a staggering 140 million individuals – a figure set to grow. In fact, the United States is set to become majority Multicultural by 2042 – and some states have already made that leap. As the U.S. consumer landscape evolves, there’s a need for brands and agencies to improve their understanding of culture – across race, ethnicity, generation, sexuality, family relationships, and more – to evolve their marketing strategies for authentic engagement.

With this in mind, Collage Group provides valuable insights into Multicultural marketing to help you understand its evolution and best practices. And by implementing these insights, your business can enjoy the benefits that come from doing so.

Here, we offer a 7-step guide to help you create an engaging Multicultural marketing strategy. This guide is designed to be used by consumer insight professionals and marketers together in a collaborative process.

Our guide showcases what successful Multicultural marketing campaigns look like, drawing inspiration from leading brands such as Nike and Coca-Cola, while also highlighting the crucial role consumer research data plays in driving marketing success.

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Multicultural marketing is the practice of targeting diverse consumer groups with tailored marketing strategies that account for different cultural backgrounds, values, and preferences.

Multicultural marketing creates opportunities from diverse cultural referents – such as language, traditions, celebrations, religion, and other concepts. The aim is to connect with diverse populations, form long-lasting and positive consumer relations, and break advertising norms by highlighting people or groups that may be underrepresented or misrepresented.

The widespread adoption of Multicultural marketing began to emerge in the late 1960s when the potential of addressing consumers by their racial and ethnic identities was first acknowledged. Since then, Multicultural marketing has gradually evolved, with the 1990s marking a significant peak as businesses increasingly recognized the value of reaching out to different ethnicities. Notably, major companies like Coca-Cola have implemented dedicated Multicultural marketing strategies after realizing the growth potential it holds for their business.

Today, marketers must understand the diverse nature of societies, with many countries characterized by a rich blend of multiple cultures rather than being dominated by a single group. By embracing Multiculturalism, companies can tap into the immense purchasing power of historically underrepresented people, build brand loyalty, and foster long-term customer relationships. 

Multicultural marketing ensures inclusivity, meaning marketing campaigns resonate with diverse audiences, and also helps brands stay relevant in an increasingly interconnected and culturally diverse world.

The success of any given Multicultural marketing campaign depends on Cultural Fluency – characterized by the ability to connect with shared experiences and understanding intersectionality, to form positive relationships with today’s diverse consumers.

Representation alone is not enough to prove that your brand cares about consumers across cultures. Does your brand truly understand America’s cultural diversity? And are you effective in authentically engaging with each consumer segment?

In an impactful collaboration with Ad Age for the event, “Ad Age Next: Multicultural Marketing“, Collage Group had the pleasure of joining other leading brands, including Unilever, Twitter, BET Networks, and PepsiCo, to delve deeper into Multicultural consumer engagement strategies. Collage Group’s Vice President of Client Services, Zekeera Belton, participated in a panel focusing on the term “Multicultural” and the state of Multicultural marketing – how it’s evolving, best practices, and lessons learned.

The following includes key insights discussed during the panel and covered in Collage Group research your brand needs to understand to remain relevant and drive growth across diverse segments. Before delving deeper into our findings, here’s a topline summary:

Multicultural marketing research key insights:

    1. Multicultural marketing insight #1: Collage Group research shows that Multicultural Americans are increasingly interested in supporting brands that support them.
    2. Multucultural marketing insight #2: Multicultural Americans are largely unsatisfied with portrayals of their own racial and ethnic identities in advertising. This comes at a time when cultural identity is more important than ever and backlash against inauthentic representation is as big as ever. There’s clearly more work marketers can do to improve. 

 

The majority of Hispanic (60%), Black (76%), and Asian American (58%) populations want to support those brands that support them. However, these racial and ethnic segments are becoming less satisfied with how they’re portrayed.

Hispanic (+8pp)
60%
Black (+13pp)
76%
Asian (+15pp)
58%

(% of respondents who say they’re more likely to buy from a brand that supports their race or ethnicity.)

A large proportion of Hispanic (50%) and Black (45%) populations stated they weren’t satisfied with how their race and ethnicity were portrayed in advertising.

Our results indicate a disconnect between brands and Multicultural communities, stemming from a lack of understanding and depth of cultural intelligence. Thus, conducting consumer research is vital before devising any Multicultural marketing campaign, underscoring the need for collaboration between consumer research professionals and marketing teams. Our 7-step guide supports such collaborative efforts and is presented later in this article.

Acculturated Bicultural Unacculturated
47% (-9pp)
51% (-1pp)
61% (+29pp)

With the above insights in mind, Collage Group has developed a range of solutions to help brands succeed. Our shared-cost syndicated research model embedded into our world-class Cultural Intelligence Platform gives brands access to more than 10 years of diverse consumer insights with new reports weekly. Our members also have access to our CultureRate reports that assess the Cultural Fluency of brands and ads – our database is the largest of its kind, growing annually by more than 200,000 responses. 

Leveraging consumer research and cultural intelligence data will help you build a successful Multicultural marketing campaign. This is why consumer research professionals and marketers must work together when devising a marketing plan. When done right, Multicultural marketing helps businesses better align with their customers, which brings about immense benefits, as discussed below.

Multicultural marketing responds to evolving consumer trends as minority populations expand

Recent population projections conducted by Census highlight the significant role Multicultural Americans  play as the primary driving force behind America’s future growth. The statistics indicate that the U.S. is projected to transition to a “minority White” status by 2045. In that year, White Americans are estimated to make up 49.7% of the population, while Hispanics will account for 24.6%, Black Americans for 13.1%, Asian Americans for 7.9%, and multiracial populations for 3.8%. These figures underscore the evolving demographics and the increasing influence diverse racial groups will have in shaping the nation’s market.

Multicultural marketing harnesses the economic influence of diverse communities

According to a 2021 report from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, it’s evident that Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics possess substantial economic influence, emphasizing a need for companies to move beyond a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. That is, the buying power of African American, Asian American, and Native American consumers has witnessed a remarkable surge over the past three decades, escalating from $458 billion in 1990 to $3 trillion in 2020, while their combined share of the nation’s total buying power grew from 10.6% to 17.2% during the same period. The buying power of Hispanic consumers has also experienced significant growth, reaching $1.9 trillion in 2020, accounting for 11.1% of U.S. purchasing power, up from 5% in 1990. This diversification in the U.S. consumer market can be attributed to factors such as population growth, favorable demographics, entrepreneurial activity, and increased levels of educational attainment, among others.

Multicultural marketing fosters stronger brand loyalty by embracing diversity

According to Microsoft Advertising, 70% of Gen Z consumers trust brands that portray diversity in their advertisements more than those that don’t. Adding to this, findings from Adobe’s research reveal that 38% of consumers, spanning across generations, are more inclined to trust brands that effectively showcase diversity in their marketing strategy. Consequently, a substantial 71% of audiences expect brands to actively promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising efforts.

To devise an effective Multicultural marketing plan, consumer research professionals and marketers must be aware of three key principles before collaborating. These principles serve as guiding rules for crafting a strategy that resonates with diverse audiences:

    1. Embrace Cultural Specificity: The scope of diversity in the United States makes it impossible to represent all people at all times in marketing and advertising. But, by telling cultural stories that are rich in nuance and detail you can bring a sense of inclusion to the given target audience while also simultaneously communicating the value of this inclusion to all consumer audiences.
    2. Harness Cultural Intelligence and Consumer Research: Engage in consumer research to attain cultural intelligence. Partnering with the Collage Group is instrumental to this endeavor. We offer valuable resources, such as market insights, consumer trends, and segmentation analysis, helping businesses make informed decisions and to develop effective strategies that engage with diverse audiences. This information will help marketing teams align content and communications with the values and behaviors of different cultural groups. This ensures your messaging is culturally relevant and resonates with your target audience on a deeper level.
    3. Foster Cohesion Across Marketing Channels: Analyze marketing campaigns for consistency in messaging across various channels to create a unified brand experience. By aligning your messaging and ensuring coherence, you enhance brand recognition and strengthen connections with Multicultural audiences.

Adhering to these principles will pave the way for an effective Multicultural marketing strategy. In the following section, we provide a comprehensive 7-step guide that serves to combine the expertise of consumer research professionals with a marketing team’s knowledge to help you create a powerful Multicultural marketing strategy.

Step #1: Hire a diverse marketing and consumer research team

Employees should have an understanding of what it feels like to be in their customers’ shoes. Without someone on your team who can contextualize your marketing campaign to a particular ethnicity or race, any content produced may come across as lacking authenticity.

Hiring a diverse team for developing Multicultural marketing campaigns brings several advantages. It ensures cultural perspective and understanding, enables accurate and effective communication with diverse audiences, fosters empathy and cultural sensitivity, sparks innovation and creativity, and expands reach in Multicultural markets, giving businesses a competitive edge and the ability to connect with diverse consumer segments.

Step #2: Leverage consumer research and cultural intelligence software

Conduct comprehensive consumer research to understand the diverse cultural groups within your target market. Identify their demographics, preferences, behaviors, and cultural nuances. This will provide valuable insights that, when relayed to your marketing team, will help tailor marketing efforts. Conduct interviews by reaching out to people in your network, social circles, or family and ask them questions about the challenges they face due to their culture and ethnicity.

When conducting consumer research, ensure that the surveyed groups represent your entire audience, including each cultural subset you intend to reach. Carefully analyze your research findings to accurately identify trends. For example, if you distribute a survey across three target markets globally but overlook the fact that the majority of respondents came from one market, your resulting strategies may not be effective in the other two markets. Since different markets often require distinct approaches, consumer research should be segmented, enabling personalized and targeted marketing for each community you aim to engage.

Leverage the cultural intelligence and consumer research solutions offered by Collage Group to bolster your brand’s efforts during this phase of information gathering. With our expertise, Collage Group enables brands to effectively segment and target Multicultural audiences. We’ll deliver actionable insights and trends, and provide consulting services to guide your team in developing impactful Multicultural marketing strategies. Overall, our platform will empower your brand to navigate diverse markets and connect with Multicultural consumers in a meaningful and sensitive way.

Step #3: Understand and define the goals and objectives of your brand’s marketing efforts

When collecting consumer insight data, it’s important to understand the goals of your marketing campaign. Is it to increase brand awareness, expand market share, or drive sales within specific cultural segments? Setting goals will not only focus your marketing strategy but will also guide consumer research processes, helping you collect the most relevant information.

Once you’ve identified these goals, incorporate them into every aspect of your strategy and communicate them across teams.

Step #4: Segment your audience and refine your understanding to achieve cultural fluency

Divide your target market into meaningful cultural segments based on relevant factors such as race or ethnicity, language, values, and traditions. This segmentation allows marketing professionals to tailor messaging and tactics for each group.

As a consumer research professional, you must develop a deep understanding of the cultures you’re targeting and communicate this understanding to ensure any marketing materials produced are culturally sensitive and authentic. Challenge stereotypes and aim for genuine representation that resonates with your audience. It’s a common misconception that only individuals from a specific race or ethnicity can understand that community. It’s your job to ensure marketers adopt a Multicultural mindset that transcends their background and embraces diverse perspectives. Step #1 will help here – ensuring diversity in employees.

Cultural fluency refers to the ability to effectively navigate and understand cultures, norms, values, and behaviors. This goes beyond basic awareness and is characterized by a deeper level of understanding and sensitivity. As consumer researchers, it’s your job to provide enough information to establish cultural fluency across teams. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the various meanings and nuances associated with the term “Multicultural” and communicate this. 

Step #5: Create marketing content that resonates across culture

It’s now time for your marketing team to apply your consumer research insights to develop relevant content that speaks directly to each cultural segment. Work with your marketing team to create campaigns, visuals, and messaging that align with the values, traditions, and experiences of each segment. Integrate cross-cultural thinking into the core strategy of your brand. Make the Multicultural customer a central focus ensuring inclusivity and relevance.

Your advertising materials and brand imagery must reflect the diversity of your target audience. Represent different cultures by featuring diverse models, stories, and experiences to promote inclusivity. 

Once your marketing content has been created, it’s now time to promote it. Marketing teams can reach people across the globe by adopting digital marketing tactics. Having an open mind to learning and leveraging the appropriate channels is key for brands to expand their reach and connect with audiences using an omnichannel approach. For instance, your marketing team must recognize that Multicultural audiences are at the forefront of social media usage and mobile technology. Hence, marketers need to adapt by actively engaging and mobilizing their presence on these platforms.

 

Before content is promoted, consumer research professionals must review content to ensure it remains authentic and avoids the pitfall of being self-serving or masquerading as social justice. Your expertise enables you to assess whether the content genuinely reflects the values, experiences, and aspirations of the Multicultural audience. Look for cultural sensitivity, respect, and engagement to prevent any perception of insincerity or opportunistic marketing tactics.

Step #6: Ensure marketing content is inclusive

While consumers may not consciously base their product choices on seeing themselves represented in marketing visuals, they subconsciously pick up on signals indicating whether a product is intended for people like them or not. 

To cater to diverse audiences, many companies are going beyond using generic photos and actors in their videos. For example, incorporating well-known Spanish-language music can resonate with the U.S.-based Hispanic audience, aligning creative assets more comprehensively with this target market. And by opting for Multicultural images that reflect a global brand instead of exclusively featuring individuals from a single culture, you’ll expand your customer base and reach. 

When your creative assets acknowledge the role of your product or service within different cultures, people are then more likely to perceive your offering as relevant and inclusive of their own experiences.

Step #7: Measure and adapt to how diverse consumers respond to your brands and ads

Your marketing team must continuously monitor and measure the effectiveness of your Multicultural marketing efforts. As consumer research professionals, it’s your job during this stage to collaborate with the marketing team and support the necessary adjustments to optimize your brand’s strategy over time.

You can also engage with customers who respond to your marketing campaigns. Assess how they interact with your brand’s strong ethical stance. Work with your marketing team to create content that encourages community engagement and inclusion through campaigns that foster discussion and participation. Leverage Collage Group’s CultureRate database and custom solutions  to analyze how your cross-cultural customer base engages, helping you determine the success of your approach and identify areas for improvement in future campaigns.

Stay innovative by exploring and utilizing new media platforms and marketing channels. As consumers embrace new technologies, be open to experimenting. Your marketing team should adapt and evolve alongside the changing media landscape to maintain relevance and maximize reach.

Leading brands such as Nike, Visa, and McCormick have launched successful Multicultural campaigns, which require a deep understanding of their consumers’ pain points, values, and desires, as well as cultural fluency. In the next section of this article, we present these brands as examples of successful Multicultural marketing, as identified by College Group’s team of analysts. Our findings underscore the crucial role consumer research data plays in driving success for any marketing endeavor.

Case study #1 – Nike celebrates diversity across Hispanic communities

Collage Group conducted a survey within the Hispanic community to better understand their perceptions of the foot apparel brand, Nike. The results are as follows:

    1. 72% agreed that Nike’s branding personally resonates with their group identity (relevance).
    2. 69% agreed that Nike offers a personally desirable product (fit).
    3. 63% agreed that Nike’s branding evokes positive past experiences (memories).
    4. 53% agreed that Nike’s branding aligns with their personal values (values).
    5. 69% agreed that Nike’s branding has earned their trust (trust).
    6. 69% agreed that Nike’s branding is worthy of positive word-of-mouth (advocacy).

Based on our findings, we can deduce that Nike’s branding effectively connects with Hispanic consumer values of resilience and optimism, thereby driving relevance and brand fit. For instance, a significant 81% of Hispanics indicated they actively seek solutions to overcome setbacks, reflecting their resilience. Furthermore, 78% expressed confidence that their life will improve, highlighting their optimism. In this context, Nike’s strategic focus revolves around empowering Hispanic communities by accentuating these shared values.

For instance, Nike has established a network called “Latino and Friends“, an initiative that not only facilitates professional growth but also seamlessly integrates community passions for art, friendship, and music into their everyday working life. By proactively engaging with Hispanic communities and various groups on both local and national scales, Nike not only fosters trust within the community but also solidifies and enhances the brand’s reputation. The success achieved by Nike underscores the potency of their campaigns in Multicultural American.

Case study #2 – Visa establishes a meaningful connection with the Asian American community

The American multinational financial services company, Visa, offers essential resources and tools that cultivate a sense of trust among Asian American consumers. To gauge the perceptions of the Visa brand within this community, analysts from Collage Group conducted a survey that yielded the following results:

    1. 77% of respondents affirmed that Visa’s branding deeply resonates with their group identity (relevance).
    2. 70% acknowledged that Visa provides a personally desirable product (fit).
    3. 52% recognized that Visa’s branding triggers positive recollections of past experiences (memories).
    4. 56% concurred that Visa’s branding aligns with their individual values (values).
    5. 78% confirmed that Visa’s branding has successfully garnered their trust (trust).
    6. 65% agreed that Visa’s branding deserves positive word-of-mouth endorsement (advocacy).

The effectiveness of Visa’s Multicultural marketing approach is demonstrated through its ability to genuinely listen and respond to the values, aspirations, and concerns of the Asian American community. One illustrative example lies in Visa’s provision of swift and user-friendly digital remittance services that cater specifically to the needs of Asian Americans, capitalizing on the cultural duality intrinsic to this group.

Collage Group’s research unveiled that within the past year, a significant 30% of Asian Americans utilized international money transfer or global remittance services to send money across borders, surpassing the rate of 21% among the overall population. This underscores the community’s distinct financial behavior. Moreover, the research highlighted that 46% of Asian Americans prioritize the speed of transfer when choosing a bank or service for international money transfers/remittances, a proportion higher than the general population’s rate of 38%.

As Nick Moiseff, EVP of North America for Remitly, aptly illustrates with a practical example:

 “The customer sent the money to an eligible Visa debit card because it’s a faster experience. The funds were in his mom’s account in India fast and she was able to get her surgery.”Nick Moiseff, EVP of North America for Remitly

Similar to Remitly, Visa’s services align seamlessly with the immediate and critical needs of the Asian American community, showcasing a prime example of successful Multicultural marketing.

Case study #3 – McCormick understands Black American’s cooking preferences

McCormick and Company, the American food giant, champions effective Multicultural marketing that caters to the Black American community, as demonstrated by Collage Group’s research, that has yielded the following results:

    1. 67% of respondents affirmed that McCormick’s branding deeply resonates with their group identity (relevance).
    2. 70% acknowledged that McCormick provides a personally desirable product (fit).
    3. 63% recognized that McCormick’s branding evokes positive memories (memories).
    4. 51% concurred that McCormick’s branding aligns with their individual values (values).
    5. 70% confirmed that McCormick’s branding has successfully earned their trust (trust).
    6. 70% agreed that McCormick’s branding deserves positive word-of-mouth endorsement (advocacy).

Addressing the needs of the Black American community, McCormick’s comprehensive range of spices and home-cooking recipes resonate deeply. For instance, a notable 64% of respondents express a preference for cooking at home over dining out (compared to 54% in the total population), and 63% actively seek novel experiences and activities (such as trying new flavors). McCormick aptly addresses these preferences by offering a meal planner option featuring virtual shopping lists, recipes, and cooking tips that cater to all.

Trust is a cornerstone of McCormick’s connection with the Black American community. As such, the brand establishes partnerships with revered food and cooking influencers that hold a special place in the hearts of Black Americans. An illustrative example is McCormick’s collaboration with renowned chef Millie Peartree, which pays homage to the history and significance of soul food by transforming conventional charcuterie boards into “Soul-Cuterie ” boards as a tribute to Black History Month 2022.

For deeper insights into multicultural marketing and how leading brands effectively meet the needs of Multicultural America, you can sign up to work with us at Collage Group. On doing so, you will gain access to the latest consumer insight trends and our cultural intelligence platform.

Leverage Collage Group’s diverse consumer insights for effective Multicultural marketing

Multicultural marketing is a crucial strategy for businesses to be noticed in today’s diverse and interconnected world. Our research findings indicate that Multicultural Americans are increasingly interested in supporting the brands that support them. Hence, by understanding and tailoring marketing efforts to diverse cultural groups, companies can tap into the growing purchasing power of Multicultural consumers and foster long-term brand loyalty.

However, our research also indicates that Americans are becoming less satisfied with how they’re portrayed. For this reason, consumer research professionals must work alongside and collaborate with marketing teams to create effective Multicultural campaigns. Our 7-step guide to creating an effective Multicultural marketing strategy has been designed with this approach in mind.

For instance, your business must hire a diverse team, leverage consumer research and cultural intelligence, define clear goals, segment your audience, create culturally relevant content, ensure inclusivity, and continuously measure and adapt a given marketing strategy based on feedback and data. By following these steps and implementing best practices, businesses can unlock the full potential of Multicultural marketing and drive growth in their target markets.

Collage Group is a market research and consulting firm that specializes in Multicultural consumer insights. We can assist your business in creating effective marketing campaigns by providing in-depth research, cultural intelligence, and strategic guidance tailored to diverse cultural groups, helping your brand better understand and connect with your target audiences. Contact us to learn more about how you can gain access to our diverse consumer insights embedded in our Cultural Intelligence Platform.

Contact us at the form below to learn more about how you can gain access to these diverse consumer insights and much more in our Cultural Intelligence Platform.

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Sudipti Kumar

Sudipti Kumar

Sudipti is a Director of Cultural Insights on Collage Group’s Product and Content team. She is a graduate from NYU’s Stern School of Business where she studied finance and marketing, and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where she received her Masters in Public Administration. In her spare time, Sudipti enjoys reading, cooking, and learning to crochet.

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