Shattering the Myths of Multicultural Marketing

B-to-B campaigns that challenged conventional thinking about diverse audiences

By Matthew Schwartz



As multicultural marketing becomes synonymous with mainstream marketing, B-to-B companies not only have an opportunity to attract new customers and build more diverse relationships but dramatically change their creative mindset. "B-to-B marketers focus on selling their individual products or services, instead of connecting with people, and that makes their marketing boring," says Carla Johnson, president at Type A Communications and co-author of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. "But with multicultural marketing fundamentally changing a growing number of business sectors, B-to-B marketers need to shed traditional approaches and get more creative about how they engage audiences."

B-to-B companies taking a different creative tack in their communications is a function of a country that's more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. Some of the nation's largest states, including California and Texas, already are "minority-majority," where one or more racial and/or ethnic minorities comprise a majority of the local population relative to the entire country's population. The business landscape reflects the demographic trends: From 2002 to 2013, for example, Hispanic-owned businesses more than doubled, to roughly 3.16 million companies, according to

Yet, despite the growing purchasing power among multicultural groups, B-to-B companies tend to view multicultural marketing through a relatively small lens. "Multicultural marketing sometimes stands alone," says Lisa Skriloff, president of Multicultural Marketing Resources Inc. "There needs to be a presence throughout the company, and multicultural thinking needs to be integral to the organization."

With that in mind, here are four examples of B-to-B marketing campaigns that help to dispel some of the myths surrounding multicultural marketing.


Myth 1: Multicultural Audiences Are Not Valuable Enough for Business Marketers

In July 2016, Nielsen rated Univision Deportes Network (UDN) the No. 1 cable sports network in prime-time among men ages 18 to 49, Univision Communications reports. Univision parlayed that metric to send a strong message to ad buyers, challenging conventional thinking about the Hispanic market and demonstrating the value of Univision's media outlets to drive marketers' business goals.

UDN's marketing campaign, titled "The Rise to Futbol in America," included full-page ads in Advertising Age and The New York Times, as well as sponsored social posts on Twitter and LinkedIn. One ad proclaimed, in green letters, "The American Sports Fan Has Spoken," with the words "In Spanish" written in white letters below it. The ad was accompanied by a picture of a triumphant soccer player. "We were able to show that brands' media plans do not reflect the power of UDN's audience or its reach," says Amy Caplan, SVP of sales strategy and communication at Univision. "Spanish-language media is not an easy sell. We start by educating buyers. If you're a CMO, you know how to market to the general market, but as demos change the general market, brands have to include Hispanics and other multicultural groups in their marketing plans." Viewership for UDN's primetime programming grew 33 percent among adults ages 18 to 49 in 2016.


Myth 2: Multicultural Markets Are Monolithic

Prudential wanted to dig a little deeper to engage with its African-American audience. Through a series of research initiatives conducted over several years, the insurer identified six emerging sub-segments and growth opportunities within the African-American market — such as female entrepreneurs and faith-based organizations — and built campaigns stemming from the research.

Take the "dfree" campaign, which rolled out in 2014 and was named after an initiative started by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in New Jersey, that helps individuals change their financial behavior. Over the course of 12 weeks, Prudential's program with dfree deployed from more than 560 churches and was heavily promoted on social platforms, with one Facebook Live video garnering 200,000 views. Another dfree campaign, focused on entrepreneurial and faith-based women, generated 120 million social impressions. For Prudential, the campaigns resulted in a 14 percent boost in new customer acquisitions and 60 percent of its event leads.


Myth 3: The Same Marketing Channels that Appeal to Traditional B-to-B Audiences Appeal to Multicultural Audiences

Aon, which provides risk management, insurance, and reinsurance brokerage, was having a tough time getting out of a transaction-based business model. That changed dramatically in April 2013 after Aon signed an eight-year, $240 million sponsorship of the Manchester United soccer team. "You don't necessarily equate a big B-to-B brand with a sports team, but that's exactly what [Aon] did," says Type A Communications' Johnson. Phil Clement, CMO of Aon, told AdAge: "We needed something that we could rally around internally and also engage clients in the conversations that we needed to have. But first they needed to know who we were."

The sponsorship has been highly beneficial for the Aon brand, with particular resonance in developing markets that are key for the company, such as Korea and Brazil. The partnership has also played a key role in communicating the value of Aon and the sport in several ways. For instance, Aon took three balls from a Manchester game and flew them to the southern-most points in the world where Aon has offices (the tip of South America, the tip of South Africa, and the southern side of Australia). The balls were passed from employee to employee all the way back to London, where Manchester United is based.


Myth 4: Multicultural Markets Are Not Financially Sophisticated

Multicultural audiences are just as sophisticated as traditional sectors when it comes to engaging them with financial services products, according to Sean Salas, CEO of Camino Financial, which helps minority-owned businesses secure loans and funding. "The issue is not the sell, but one of trust," Salas says. "These are customers whose banks in their country of origin rejected their families' requests for loans for generations, so there's this myth that Latinos think the system doesn't work for them. [But] they do want to get the loan." To earn that trust, Salas says, you have to make trust an inherent part of your marketing communications.

Take Camino Financial's "Community Letter," a monthly feature/online resource that launched last summer on the company's blog, Camino Insights, and caters to minority-owned small businesses. A recent issue features information about what the Trump presidency will mean for Latino businesses, ranging from corporate tax cuts to immigration policies. "We start with the personal and then get into how we help clients and the community," Salas says. "It's never a hard sell."




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