Aiming for Marketing Success? Take a Multicultural Approach

The world of marketing is constantly changing and evolving. As the demographics of the target audience changes, the focus of marketing also changes. In the past, the majority of marketing targeted white, non-Hispanic Americans, but a closer look at current marketing material indicates this is no longer the case. Brands are embracing a much more multicultural approach to their marketing efforts, with giants like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s leading the charge. Here’s a look at why multicultural marketing is a trend that is going to continue to expand in 2017 and beyond, as well as why today’s marketers need to take notice in order to stay relevant and profitable.

A Changing Demographic Requires a Changing Marketing Tactic

One of the primary reasons a multi-cultural campaign will be essential in 2017 is that our national demographic is changing. According to Nielsen, between 2000 and 2014, 92 percent of the total growth in the U.S. population was due to growth in multicultural groups. Of those multicultural groups, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics are the largest growing demographics.

Previously, the sheer size of the Caucasian audience meant that this group was responsible for a great portion of spend, and therefore was often the target of marketing and advertising. Now, companies need to take notice of shifting demographics and make marketing changes to address their evolving audiences.

Multicultural Demographics Garner Tremendous Buying Power

In a 2015 article titled “The Making of a Multicultural Super Consumer,” Nielsen indicated the buying power of multicultural consumers in the United States increased from $661 billion in 1990 to $3.4 trillion in 2014. This growth has not stopped since 2014, and thus, bringing multicultural insights into core business strategies and marketing decisions is essential to tapping into this buying power and pushing businesses towards success.

Millennials Are Asking for a New Approach

Image credit

Part of the reason for the change in marketing is also due to the makeup of the millennial cohort. Millennials comprise one third of the population, and according to Pace, 42 percent of that age group identifies with a demographic group other than “white”. Since marketers know the power of connecting with a young, prosperous buyer who is in the beginning stage of the consumer cycle, this demographic becomes one of the most important to target.

In addition, millennials are specifically leaning toward brands that have multicultural marketing tactics. In 2016, Buzz Marketing Group performed a Multicultural Millennial Study. This online survey targeting the 21 - 36-year-old demographic researched the attitudes millennials had toward advertising, influence, media and social activism.

Among other findings, the study found that millennials are spending their money with brands that have a clear multicultural focus. These individuals want to spend their money with people who are targeting their specific ethnic group. Millennials also understand their buying power, and they are not afraid to leverage that power to support businesses with a multicultural focus.

Brands Are Switching to a Total Market Approach

These changes are not new, and in previous years, several well-known brands have recognized the demographic shift and taken steps to adjust their marketing strategies. This requires what the industry calls a “Total Market” mindset, which means a mindset that embraces a diverse audience rather than targeting one majority audience and hoping the others will follow.

Coca-Cola was one of the first to make national headlines with this change. In its 2014 Super Bowl ad, Coke showed a choir of Americans singing “America the Beautiful.” How did they utilize the “Total Market” mindset in this ad? They were singing in seven different languages. This led to displeasure among those who are not in favor of the global mindset the ad reflects, but Coke stood behind its decision. The company noted that it was marketing to its total market, which is a multicultural one. Coke even aired the ad again during the 2017 Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola continues to monitor demographics, and since its controversial Super Bowl ad, Coke has changed its marketing tactics once again. Instead of targeting a number of different demographics in one global campaign, the brand focused on specific demographics within its different branches. For example, Coca-Cola ads in 2016 targeted values in line with the Hispanic-American community, while the Minute Maid products that Coke offers targeted dads and African-Americans. In addition to these market-specific strategies, Coke featured an over-arching slogan, “Taste the Feeling,” across its global campaigns. This attempt to both reach the multicultural markets while also maintain a sense of unity has proven to be effective for the soft drink giant, especially in terms of brand perception.

McDonald’s has also applied the “Total Market” approach to its marketing campaigns. In 2015, McDonald’s won the “Marketer of the Year” award at the American Hispanic Advertising Association’s annual conference, and Upfront Analytics indicates the fast-food king has continued to increase its marketing efforts to Latinos. But Latinos are not the only demographic that fits into McDonald’s “Total Market” approach; recent ads have starred Asians and African-Americans.

Former McDonald’s CCO Marelena Peleo-Lazar indicated that McDonald’s carefully targeted the points of view of a variety of ethnic customers. In 2013, AdAge quoted her as saying, “We’re not in Kansas anymore. The general market doesn’t look the same.... When we take the time to invest our resources to understand the points of view of the ethnic customers, we make smarter decisions that promote our brand in the best possible way.”

These are just two examples of the many companies that are realizing the relevance of the multicultural approach to marketing. These companies have implemented this multicultural focus early, and they are seeing strong results. In 2017, brands that wish to see continued growth are going to need to carefully consider these growing ethnic groups and determine how they can better reach and serve them.

An Online MBA Degree With an International Focus — an Asset in Multicultural Marketing

For today’s business leaders who wish to embrace this multicultural marketing strategy, the right training is important. Earning a business degree online from a fully online program with an international and multicultural focus can provide the right direction to allow business leaders to see beyond the traditional majority demographic.

Washington State University and the Carson College of Business offer an online MBA program that provides this international focus, specifically with (optional) travel opportunities in Asian markets. To broaden your horizons in a multicultural marketing and sales climate, consider enrolling in this program.

Recommended Reading:


Multicultural Marketing: McDonald's Commericals