Why Do Some Brands Get the Total Market Approach Wrong?

May 9, 2016

By Jeffrey L. Bowman, ANA Faculty

The total market approach was reintroduced to the industry in 2010. Since then, brands have tried variations of the approach and provided perspective on what it is and what it is not.

For some within the industry, there is fear of the approach and the potential for dissolution of multicultural marketing service providers.

However, change is required for brands when marketing in the new, multicultural America. This fact should not create fear, but rather should pique curiosity.  

How did brands get to a place where they fear what is new? The graphic below  illustrates the total market approach in simple terms, showing how it is separate from both the general market and multicultural marketing approach. 


For insights development, the cross-cultural discipline is used to develop a marketing strategy and tactics that are similar and dissimilar across multiple cultural segments.

A brand has to mature into being able to implement the total market approach. It requires change management. Often, this change is not lead by the advertising agency. This is where many brands get it wrong. 

For brands to evolve, there has to be communication and transparency within their organization — with marketing leading the change across agency partners, talent, diversity and inclusion, and procurement, while establishing new organization capabilities that accelerate enterprise maturation. 

After numerous total market brand engagements, I’ve found that the most effective change management system is one that first seeks to understand the brand’s stage of organization maturity before choosing a path for future-proofing the brand.  

The industry is at a crossroads with this topic. 50 years of buying power is up for grabs. Knowing where your brand is on the maturation curve is crucial to developing a sustainable outcome for the total addressable market.

Jeffrey is an acclaimed author and founder of REFRAME: The [Brand], a business acceleration platform. At his upcoming ANA innovation workshop, he’ll cover the Total Market approach, including assessing appropriate approaches, necessary tools, and new concepts to raise effectiveness. Attendees will gain knowledge with proven concepts and evidence-based case studies.

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