Making Total Market Mainstream

From Toyota to Clorox to Wells Fargo, many big brands are realizing the business benefits of the total marketing approach to marketing communications

By Michael J. McDermott



Part one of a four-part series on multicultural marketing


The total market approach (TMA) is a relatively new addition to the dictionary of multicultural marketing communications, although some of its underlying concepts have been used for years by marketers targeting ethnically and demographically diverse segments. It was officially memorialized at the 2014 AHAA Annual Conference, when the national trade organization representing the entire Hispanic marketing, communications, and media industry released this definition of TMA:

"A marketing approach followed by corporations with their trusted internal and external partners which proactively integrates diverse segment considerations. This is done from inception, through the entire strategic process and execution, with the goal of enhancing value and growth effectiveness. In marketing communications, this could lead to either one fully integrated cross-cultural approach, individual segment approaches, or both in many cases, but always aligned under one overarching strategy."

In a 2015 CMO Council whitepaper, " Activating the New American Mainstream — Defining, Reaching, and Engaging with the Multicultural Market," 54 percent of marketing organizations polled said they were already deploying their multicultural efforts through a total market approach, but some in the multicultural marketing community question that high level of self-reported participation. "There was certainly an initial torrent of TMA talk, but it appears that some of the buzz has waned," says Andrew Delbridge, co-president and chief strategy and engagement officer at Grupo Gallegos, an agency based in Huntington Beach, Calif. "Part of the reason for this is, perhaps, that it is a concept that is easy to talk about but not so easy to execute."

Luis Montero, president of la comunidad/the community, an agency with offices in Miami, Fla., and Buenos Aires, Argentina, says he personally doesn't like the phrase "total market approach" because it "means too many things all at once." He does, however, support the goals behind it: "The truth is, we're not perfect at it, but we believe this is the right way to approach today's culturally fluid market and are investing heavily to pursue it. And, increasingly, more and more clients — whether we're hired as a cultural agency or the head agency — are starting to agree."

Whatever TMA's current level of penetration, some of marketing's biggest brands are robustly embracing it. They report both benefits and challenges arising from their efforts, and they stress that TMA is best conceptualized as a paradigm-changing approach to multicultural marketing, not a short-term test or project. "There is never a state of arrival for us as far as TMA is concerned," says Michael J. Lacorazza, EVP and head of integrated marketing at Wells Fargo. "We're always doing everything we can to learn from others, as well as innovating on our own, but marketers should think about this as a journey, not a destination."


Toyota Drives TMA

Toyota shifted to a total market approach more than two years ago. "It continues to be a cross-agency, cross-client way to ensure the best possible work, against the strongest insights, focused on the total transcultural mainstream market," says Mia Phillips, national manager of brand, multicultural, and crossline marketing strategy at Toyota Motor Sales USA. "At the same time, we create focused ethnic market work targeted at the insights unique to our ethnic audiences."

All of Toyota's internal product teams are tasked with responsibility for the company's TMA efforts, while the multicultural marketing team acts as a center of excellence, providing overarching brand strategies, insights on best practices, and in-depth research to support the goals of the teams. Toyota works closely with its partner agencies when conducting research to unearth the consumer insights that will drive its TMA creative briefs. Some research targets specific ethnic/demographic segments, and some focuses on a broader, cross-cultural population sample. "These learnings are synthesized into one overarching total market briefing document for the creative leads," Phillips notes. "Our four creative directors from our four agencies then work together to create the strongest idea platform."

Toyota's total market brief focuses on the shared values of the company, product, and audience, as well as on the key defining communication and anthropological behaviors. Each new strategic brief results in the development of multiple idea platforms, all leading toward a single transcultural mainstream idea to drive all communications. "This is not lowest-common denominator thinking," Phillips says. "Instead, this is about the most compelling shared insight."

The automaker is seeing benefits from its TMA efforts, Phillips reports, noting that it has propelled disparate departments supporting ethnic markets to align strategies and work together toward fully engaging the multicultural consumer.

However, adopting and executing TMA does present some challenges, Phillips admits. One is driving understanding that the total market approach is not a one-size-fits-all solution; rather, it is a dynamic and ever-changing approach to ensure the best, most resonant, and most effective marketing communications. As such, it has to be tailored to meet a number of differing business contexts and objectives. "As a team, Toyota and its partner agencies have had to continue to evolve our approach to fully reflect the ever-evolving nature of the U.S. marketplace and to reflect Toyota's strong belief in the power of diversity and collaboration," Phillips stresses.


Clorox Hits the Mark

Evolution and optimization are also central to The Clorox Company's TMA efforts, which it began about three years ago. According to David Cardona, director of shopper marketing, category advisory, and multicultural capabilities, Clorox defines TMA as "the organizational and business strategies that most effectively market to all target consumers in a multicultural nation by moving beyond silos to more holistic, integrated approaches to brand plans, consumer insights, and go-to-market programs. It's our best attempt to effectively market to a target audience."

In working with ethnic groups, Clorox goes deep to understand and weigh differences from, and similarities to, other non-ethnic audience groups. "By doing so, we grant our teams the freedom to decide what is best for their audience groups," Cardona explains. "As a result, we may end up with a campaign that feels similar regardless of the audience, or we may end up with one that, while staying true to the brand DNA, delivers against another strategy that is better suited for the audiences based on their current behavior or attitudes toward the category."

"For us, having a total market approach is a business imperative."
— Michael J. Lacorazza, EVP and head of integrated marketing at Wells Fargo


Wells Fargo Keeps It Real

Another company that has been notably proactive in adopting TMA is Wells Fargo, and its efforts are paying off handsomely. For example, its "Done" campaign, a deposit-relationship effort targeting millennials that runs in both English- and Spanish-language versions, has returned an average 15-point lift in consideration in each of its flights over the past three years. Both versions feature very similar narratives but with subtle adjustments to reflect insight for the Hispanic community — a notable one being a scene showing access to a 24/7 phone banker in the Spanish-language version, reinforcing the high importance Hispanic depositors place on around-the-clock access to a banker.

"For us, having a total market approach is a business imperative, and it starts with the massive transition in demographic trends taking place in the U.S.," Lacorazza says. For example, about half of new deposit relationships in the brand's retail community bank business are coming from millennials, and 40 percent are from diverse segments within that group, with Hispanics being the largest. "If we're not going to market in a culturally relevant way for these audiences, who live in two worlds, then we're not going to be in their consideration set."

In deploying TMA, Wells Fargo looks for the common themes, drivers, and customer needs that cross all segments, but it also infuses multicultural insights into the process at the very outset of the creative brief. "We're starting with those insights at the center of the brief, and then, as the work evolves, you can see it come through," Lacorazza says. "Oftentimes, the best ideas that we get will come from our multicultural agencies."

Wells Fargo's marketing communications ecosystem involves multiple agencies working on large-scale projects, but Lacorazza stresses that collaboration, not competition, is the underlying principle. "When we have a win, it's a team win for all of us. It doesn't matter where the original idea comes from, we just want the best ideas in the most collaborative fashion," he says.

Structuring teams to help ensure seamless execution is one of the biggest challenges brands face with TMA. At the beginning of its efforts, Wells Fargo struggled to strike the right balance between leadership and collaboration. It solved this problem by designating someone from Lacorazza's department (integrated marketing) to function as a quarterback on each project. These team leaders are accountable for the decision-making and impact of all work, including channel planning (e.g., TV, radio, digital, print) and message delivery across touchpoints, Lacorazza says.

BBDO is Wells Fargo's lead agency, but other agencies — like Acento, its Hispanic agency of record — are brought into the process based on the segments being targeted. In the case of the Done campaign, for example, all four of the brand's major diverse segments (Hispanic, African-American, Asian, LGBT) are being targeted, so there are multiple agency partners involved. "There is a bit of both art and science in how BBDO leads through this," Lacorazza acknowledges. "If the process is too top-down driven, there's a risk of leaving good ideas on the table, of not hearing the other agencies or not drawing out the value they can provide. But if you make it too loose, it can result in chaos and lead to less-focused work and clients having to wade through too many different ideas and directions. So the lead agency really needs to keep the team focused and engaged."

Lacorazza candidly admits that TMA is not always the most efficient way to do the work when compared to a traditional top-down approach. So, why bother with it at all?

"We do it because of the impact," he asserts. "We're trying to get the very best work infused with the most relevant insights. The challenge is that sometimes it can take longer to get it right and to get through the whole process. Sometimes it can cost more because you've got multiple teams working on it simultaneously. But what we've seen since we started doing this is that the work it delivers is just so much better that any incremental increases in cost and time are negligible in comparison to the success of the outcomes and impacts we're achieving."



Marketing Best Practices in TMA

  1. Invest the time and resources needed to get the right multicultural insights incorporated into your creative brief at the outset. "A lot of those insights might not come from traditional tools," warns Michael J. Lacorazza, EVP and head of integrated marketing at Wells Fargo. "You might have to uncover them through your own proprietary research and knowledge of your customers."
  2. Find the right way to foster collaboration when working with multiple agencies, but stipulate a lead agency with clear accountability for the ultimate deliverables.
  3. Take a holistic approach with media plans to optimize reach. "Currently, our Hispanic media plans are very diverse," says David Cardona, director of shopper marketing, category advisory, and multicultural capabilities at The Clorox Company. The brand maintains "healthy splits" across both traditional and digital channels, with digital currently accounting for about 25 of its total Hispanic-dedicated budget. Clorox's media buys are device-agnostic, but the overall plan reflects the high level of smartphone engagement among Hispanic consumers. It's also important to consider sub-segments within the broader cohort (e.g., Spanish-preferred, English-preferred, bilingual among Hispanics) for both content appropriateness in programming and audience delivery across the media plan, Lacorazza says.
  4. Advocate for organization-wide embracement of TMA as a long-term strategy, with support and engagement at the highest managerial levels.

— M.J.M




This piece originally appeared in the 2017 ANA Multicultural Thought Leadership Supplement, produced in partnership with Portada.

Image credit: wildpixel/

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