Why Multicultural Marketing is Key to Your Brand’s Success

If you didn’t already know, marketing segmentation and targeting have drastically evolved in recent years.

Now, we can identify and even predict future customer purchasing and engagement behaviors (see: cookies, geo-location, browsing history and social listening) and learn what tactics and messaging points drive conversions. Scary? A little. Cool? Definitely.

With a plethora of customer data at our fingertips – or disposal, to some – us marketers have a holistic, 360º view into the lives of those we do – and don’t – want to target.

And as technology has evolved, so has the diversity of these potential customers. As the last decade has seen a stark rise in multicultural consumers, some brands have evolved, while others, well, haven’t.

Let’s talk about multicultural marketing, its significance, and how you can build strategies that seamlessly evolve with the times.

What is multicultural marketing?

You’ve heard of DEI before – diversity, equity and inclusion – and how these components shape workplaces, equality, opportunities and so much more. While DEI is more concerned with corporate cultures, it plays a key role in what multicultural marketing is.

Multicultural marketing is the conscious investment in research and robust strategies that authentically market to people of multiple races, ethnicities and genders, oftentimes encompassing people with intersectional identities.

Look at Gen Z, for example. Like we’ve talked about before, this generation, who is as old as 25 and as young as 9, is more diverse than any preceding generation.

Multicultural marketing addresses this diversity through established goals, objectives and strategies backed by tactics that heavily lean into insights – not stereotypes – from these audiences.

Multicultural consumers don’t feel represented.

According to survey results released by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, 54% of respondents don’t feel culturally represented in online marketing and advertising. Of these consumers, 71% hold brands to the standard of promoting and advocating for DEI in their online tactics.

Numbers aside, it’s time for your brand to act.

General market strategies are out.

For so long, marketing has been laser focused on the dominating (*cough* white) culture. Marketers have relied on blanket assumptions and lumped almost 40% of the US population together, ultimately not connecting with the vast majority of these multiculturally identifying consumers.

Sure, the “general market” is still – and always will be – a major focal point for brands and organizations, but the shift toward a more specific, realistic and human audience is imminent.

What are some benefits of multicultural marketing?

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to marketing. Or almost anything. And while we just crunched the numbers proving why multicultural marketing is necessary, we need to talk about why it’s important, for your brand/organization and in general.

1. It shows you understand your entire target audience.

Everyone wants to feel understood, yet most don’t, especially when it comes to ads. Ultimately, people want to see themselves reflected in the brands and services they buy and interact with. And by leaning into specific nuances and consumer pain points, diversifying your audience and focusing on hyper-specific targeting, your brand will definitely be in customers’ good graces.

2. Multicultural marketing accurately reflects society

Like we talked about earlier, the population is more diverse than ever before, and is increasingly becoming more and more so. Your marketing efforts should definitely reflect that and so much more. With so many disparities impacting non-white consumers and audiences, speaking to these issues in an honest and non-opportunistic way is always the best route to take.

One key thing to remember? Maintain authenticity. No one likes a performative panderer (re: Kendall Jenner ending years of racial disparities with a can of Pepsi).

The long-short: diversity is becoming increasingly diverse.

According to The Drum, people of color comprise some 40% of the US population, were responsible for 100% of the national population growth between 2010 and 2020, and continue to climb the rankings in buying power. And since 2016, the white, non-Hispanic population has been on the steady decline, followed by their buying power.

For example, by 2024, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) consumers are projected to reach a buying power of $1.6 trillion, Black consumers are projected at $1.8 trillion, Hispanic consumers are projected at $2.5 trillion and LGBTQ+ consumers sit at just over $1 trillion. Talk about diverse dollars!

In terms of statistics, 20.6 million people in the United States, or 6.2% of the population, identify as AAPI, 47.8 million, or 14.6%, identify as Black or African American and 62.1 million, or nearly 20%, identify as Hispanic.

3. You’ll actually engage with the right audience.

Broad language and vague connections no more! Instead of speaking to a “general market” audience whose buying and engagement habits are a shot in the dark, you’ll open up a world of conversation and, in turn, brand loyalty.

4. Your brand will be exposed to a much larger market.

You’d be surprised who engages with your brand, even from afar (i.e. other countries). When you dip your toes in the waters of multicultural marketing, you’re traversing land and sea and reaching – and hopefully connecting with – more and more of your target audience.

More specificity means more audience members will relate and engage, which means increased brand awareness and market shares for you in the long haul.

5. The potential for ROI is…more than potential.

Reinventing your marketing wheel as a multicultural one is the absolute best thing you can do. In fact, it gives you a leg up on the competition. How? By showing your target audience(s) that you’re willing to go where other brands won’t or haven’t before, and that means a lot.

When you’re willing to invest and elevate unique voices, you’re sure to see the returns.

What is the difference between multicultural marketing and inclusive marketing?

Ideally, your multicultural marketing is inclusive.

While multicultural marketing targets specific segments of the population based on race, culture, and ethnicity, we are seeing plenty of brands evolve. The new strategy is more focused: connect with people of all backgrounds on a more personal level. Go beyond “reaching out” and “targeting” and hone in on making genuine connections between the world and your brand. This is where collaboration with your DEI team — or investing in DEI training — is critical.

Just look at the numbers. According to survey results provided by The Female Quotient, consumers are more likely to purchase products or services if they are perceived to be diverse and inclusive.

In fact, 64% of respondents converted after seeing a DEI-forward ad, and 69% of Black consumers are more likely to make a purchase from brands or organizations that positively reflect their race or ethnicity.

And who doesn’t want to see themselves reflected in what they consume? When you create a multicultural marketing strategy, you’re looking at a lot of potential benefits. But when you work to include all demographics (like gender identity, socioeconomic status, healthcare needs, and language) your connections grow exponentially.

5 steps to a powerful multicultural marketing strategy

More connections, more opportunities, more revenue. Sounds great, right? While your decision to diversify your marketing mix, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

1. Lead with research.

As marketers, the best thing we can do is make data-informed decisions that help us set attainable goals, define our objectives, build beautiful strategies and nail down impactful, disruptive and connection-building tactics. Enter: market research.

Collect as much data as possible, and never dismiss it. Insights are key, nuance is everything and that initial message is your establishing factor. Make it count.

Looking back at that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, which reduced years of racism and violence against Black Americans to a single can of carbonated sugar water,

2. Go beyond stereotypes.

This one’s a doozy. Don’t use the round blocks to fill the square ones. While you should clearly avoid cutting and pasting current language with a dash of flavor,

And no, your Latinx and Hispanic audiences don’t want to “taco ‘bout it.” You could, however, lean into the nuance of growing up between two cultures – a “one language at home, another at school” approach, cooking as a form of togetherness or the generational desire to pass traditions on. There are so many beautiful, tender moments to be felt that don’t need to rely on a stereotype and a dream.

3. Show, don’t expect.

I’ve said it at least 3 times across this blog, and I’ll say it 3 more times: multicultural audiences want to see themselves reflected in your work. So show them people who look like them, experiences they can relate to, and solutions that meet their unique needs. Don’t show your audience people who don’t behave or relate to them and expect them to simply connect the dots.

Multicultural marketing is more than telling the same story and swapping out the characters to fit your ideal mold. Go deeper. And continue digging.

4. Commit, don’t commercialize.

Opportunistic brands? They’re very, very real, unfortunately. But fortunately for your brand, you can avoid this pigeonhole. How? By committing to diversity, on and off camera, when that paid ad isn’t running anymore and, most importantly, when there isn’t a national month or day to post a black screen with that vague message of solidarity. You know the one.

Stay committed and keep doing the work, even when you don’t think your audience is watching. Smile and mean it.

5. Give your customers a voice.

Again, people with multicultural backgrounds historically don’t have a voice. We desire and want to be seen, beyond white gazes and eurocentric standards of beauty, consumption and behavior. Start creating work that calls out the evolution of multicultural identities from the margin to the center, and pay sincere homage to these key stakeholders. It’s called allyship, friend! Now, how do you do it?

User-generated content. What’s that, might you ask? It’s a low-cost (essentially free) way of showcasing your brand’s use cases and impact on the desired consumer. This age of increasing diversity means that unheard voices need to not just be heard, but amplified. And you have the platform to make that happen, even if you don’t think you do.

3 incredible examples of multicultural marketing

We’ve talked about multicultural marketing done wrong, but we haven’t touched on some groundbreaking examples of work that transcends excellence and lives on the vanguard of the new age of marketing. Now’s the time. Check it out.

1. When I See Black | Adobe

2020 was the year of enough, and it was a long time coming. Adobe tapped into the insight that America isn’t America without Black creativity (no, seriously, it’s time to pay up), and honed in on many black communities’ diaspora-spanning excellence through their When I See Black campaign. Check it out here.

Facebook post from Adobe's "When I See Black" multicultural marketing campaign

2. Gift Like You Mean It | Etsy

Nuance, nuance, nuance. In 2020, Etsy proved they could tap into hyper-specific experiences with this beautiful and tender campaign about foreign families, the mispronunciation of names (for all those people who have never seen their own on a placard) and the tenderness that comes from gift giving and feeling seen. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.

3. Bring More Meaning to Every Moment | Target

The holiday season of 2020 was a strange one, but Target released their campaign with true nuance: one ad in English and the other in Spanish. As nearly 41.75 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home, these ads did more than repurpose the same message across two completely different audiences living in the same country.

They chose different music, lighting, cultural focal points and even nuanced messaging (in Spanish, the campaign was titled Cada momento vale más, or “Every moment’s worth more” to drive home togetherness. It’s a prime example of outreach done right).

Get in touch with an agency that has real multicultural marketing experience.

At Big Sea, we’ve conducted in-depth research and built robust, multicultural strategies for clients like the Asian American Journalist Association, Fitlife Foods, Metropolitan Ministries, Digital Women Leaders, Champions for Children, and so many more.

If you’d like to get started, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get your multicultural marketing game up and running.