Where The Ad Industry Stands on Multicultural Marketing

October 27, 2017

By Ryan Dinger

Gilbert Dávila at the 2016 ANA Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference. ANA


Working for major brands like P&G and Disney, Gilbert Dávila has more than 30 years of experience in multicultural marketing. These decades of experience have made him an expert on all things multicultural. Ahead of the 2017 ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, Dávila, who also chairs the ANA's Multicultural Committee, sat down with us to provide an update on where the industry stands on this critical discipline. See what the marketing veteran had to say below.


What broader trends are you seeing in the industry that suggest the importance of a smart, robust multicultural strategy?
Clearly the fast pace of change — fueled by technology — and the fickle nature of consumers continues the proliferation of media. But we're also seeing that the growth in corporate America is, across the broad, fairly anemic at 2-to-3 percent a year. There is clearly an opportunity for companies to put forth efforts that are going to help fuel further growth. I believe that one of the areas that will help is for companies to be very focused on reaching the entire potential audience, which in today's world has a huge portion represented by the multicultural groups. When you add Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, and other multicultural groups, you're looking at well over 40 percent of the U.S. population. And certainly over 50 percent in many major metropolitan areas. There is a huge opportunity for corporations to really prioritize multicultural and inclusive marketing in a way that is very relevant, very targeted, very culturally-nuanced, and be able to get the full level of engagement from these consumers. That's where multicultural marketing plays a huge role.


You have a lot of experience with multicultural marketing. What advice would you give to a brand that knows it needs to get better at it?
First, it's important to initiate the process of understanding the importance of multicultural groups to practically any and every brand in the U.S. from the business strategy perspective. It really begins with a seizing of the opportunity, and invariably when you do this exercise — whether you do it internally or whether you have help from external partners — it becomes very evident very quickly that these groups are important. Once you have that understanding, it really helps inform the brands on not only the importance of multicultural groups, but also what kind of engagement, what kind of efforts, and ultimately what kind of funding should be allocated in order to engage these consumers. Then you consider how to use that budget and decide if you're looking for awareness, looking for engagement, or looking to take it all the way to creating brand ambassadors.


Do you believe we are far off from a time where multicultural marketing is seen simply as marketing?
We're not there yet, but that is a conversation we are having throughout the industry. It is important to understand that multicultural marketing is, in fact, marketing. It follows the same principles. In so many ways, multicultural marketing is segmentation marketing, which the entire industry understands in terms of how to approach engaging groups of people that have certain affinities or cultural nuances. When you understand that multicultural marketing, in so many ways, is segmentation marketing, I think that really helps to hone in on how to best approach the opportunity. Ultimately, folks who are involved in multicultural marketing really need to understand what is happening broadly and be able to apply those strategies to attract multicultural groups. So yes, ultimately multicultural marketing is all about marketing. And for some companies, multicultural marketing is so important that they lead with multicultural insights. It's only a matter of time until the others catch up.


The 2017 ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, presented by Time Inc., will be held November 5–7, in Miami Beach, Fla. View the full agenda.

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