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Best practices for multicultural marketing

AUTHOR

Mike Driehorst
Senior Editor, Media, Retail, Tech & Telecom

PUBLISHED

June 6, 2024

TL;DR

To excel in multicultural marketing, focus on three best practices: research, representation, and respect. Thoroughly understand your audience's cultural nuances and avoid stereotypes. Ensure your marketing materials feature diverse, authentic representation to resonate with various communities. Show genuine respect by engaging with your audience in a way that values their unique identities and experiences. These strategies foster trust and loyalty, essential for effective multicultural marketing in an increasingly diverse society.

A survey of SmartBrief readers offers 3 best practices for multicultural marketing.

Multicultural marketing in the US is expected to grow 8% in 2024, per PQ Media, though it’ll still account for less than 6% of total marketing spending this year.

While 8% growth is definitely not bad, it’s still underwhelming, considering the US Census Bureau expects the country to be “minority white” in about 20 years. And, you don’t have to wait that long for some age groups. Research spearheaded by the Hispanic Marketing Council* says the multicultural majority already exists for those age 25 and younger.

As any good marketer knows, if you can develop brand affinity for consumers while they’re young, you have a solid chance to retain them as they get older. 

Last year, SmartBrief conducted a survey among our readers and gathered best practices in multicultural marketing. Here’s a look at three core best practices our readers shared with us.

Research

Get to truly know your audience, before and even during your marketing campaigns and outreach, to ensure content is on target.

“One of the most important tips for successful multicultural campaigns is to understand and incorporate cultural insights that are relevant to the target audience,” Plan C Agency CEO and founder Giancarlo Pacheco said. “This means going beyond basic demographic information and taking into account factors such as language, values, beliefs, customs and traditions.”

Also, if you don’t have someone on your team who is a member of your targeted demographic, be sure to check content elements with members of that community.

“Double and triple check with those who live and work within those groups to ensure it’s clear, correct and positively impactful,” says Elizabeth Scarborough, a marketing and branding consultant.

More than one respondent said nuances are key.

“Do not use stereotypes,” said Lagrant Communications CEO Kim Hunter. “Key messages must be culturally relevant and culturally sensitive.”

Target 10 Vice President of Client Services Matt Wagner said those extra efforts to look at nuances will be noticed.

“Too many multicultural campaigns leverage the same people and themes, which creates a sea of sameness. Going deeper and identifying specific opportunities and partners shows you’re paying attention and generates increased resonance and engagement,” Wagner said.

Represent

Research, messaging and other behind-the-scenes activities and nuances will demonstrate your commitment to true multicultural marketing, but there are some obvious best practices that should be included, according to our experts.

They all boil down to this: Representation matters.

“Using multicultural images in marketing helps readers and users of that specific race or culture to see themselves using the product or service,” says Covington Travel Director of Marketing Beverly McLean.

Other advice includes using the same language as your target audience and even using simple things like country-specific formats for dates and times.

Respect

The above-mentioned efforts — research and representation — are the building blocks of a good multicultural strategy, but our marketing experts say that showing respect is vital.

“Always lead with dignity and respect of those about whom you are marketing,” says Neighborhood Family Practice Vice President of Marketing and Communications Andrea Lyons. “Be careful not to stereotype or ‘other’ people in the community.”

Dunn Marketing CEO and Chief Brand Strategist Laura Dunn says, like any type of marketing, multicultural marketing is about relationships.

“The public today is too savvy about, overexposed to and therefore distrustful of the old-school, one-way style of marketing, and that’s doubly true for marginalized populations who’ve been stereotyped or altogether overlooked by those approaches,” Dunn says.

“To me, the beauty and the challenge of modern marketing is that we live in an age where it can – and must – be personal, and that requires an authentic desire and effort to learn about, understand and actively communicate with your audience,” Dunn says.

To stay up-to-date on multicultural trends, news and campaigns, subscribe to the AAF Mosaic Center SmartBrief and the Hispanic Marketing Council SmartBrief.

*HMC is a SmartBrief publishing partner.

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