Strategies for Engaging America’s Multicultural Consumers

March 3, 2016

By Kathryn Martinez, president and CEO of Avalon, ANA Faculty

There are 115 million multicultural consumers in the U.S. Multicultural students now make up over half the country’s public school population. Multicultural consumers are driving the country’s growth and producing sub segments that need to be addressed.

These new American realities pose big challenges for marketers. How can a brand reach various multicultural sub segments effectively without fragmenting its message? What multicultural marketing practices still hold true and which ones need to be refined or replaced? How can brands target consumers who do not neatly fit into singular buckets? 

Here are some suggestions that may help: 

  • Rigorously analyze the landscape. Not all consumer segments are equally important and not all trends align with your brand or corporate strategy. Understanding the facts and the nuances of the marketplace, consumers, competitors, and advertising platforms will help brands prioritize and focus efforts.
  • Change the way you think about and categorize consumers. Consumer segments are increasingly fragmented and traditional roles are changing. More women are becoming primary wage earners. Biracial and multiracial populations are on the rise. Understanding how to acknowledge and blend multiple traits and characteristics into meaningful segments is essential.
  • Think beyond broad cultural characteristics. Each multicultural group has general psychographic traits that define it. But in many cases generational and nativity factors are more germane. Dig deep into multicultural segments to uncover what matters most for your brand.
  • Adapt marketing tactics to fully engage multicultural consumers. Multicultural consumers are super consumers — high consumption users who are highly engaged with and vocal about brands. Understanding their social media habits, and the interactive nature of their media consumption will lead to a more robust marketing plan.
  • Be true to your brand. With the seismic demographic and psychographic shifts that are occurring, it is tempting to modify brand positioning to take advantage of opportunities. This can be a fatal mistake. Routinely update consumer insights and look for ways to make meaningful connections to your brand while maintaining its essence and unique value proposition. 

Kathryn has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and has worked at preeminent marketing companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola. She is considered an expert on multicultural consumer groups in the U.S. The ANA offers workshops that help participants better navigate the U.S. market and optimize their marketing efforts.

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