Tips to Reach Multicultural Audiences through Digital Marketing
Tips to Reach Multicultural Audiences through Digital Marketing
The landscape is changing, not just in Chicago but the entire U.S. We are, more than ever, a melting pot. People worldwide come to our shores for a better life, better education, and the siren call of the American Dream. If we genuinely believe in a perfect union, we must be mindful and respectful of our multicultural roots and acknowledge them and celebrate them.
We all want recognition and acknowledgment. We look for our likeness, our vernacular, and moments from our lives in television programming, radio commercials, stand-up comedy routines, movies, radio shows, and podcasts. When a young parent, for instance, sees or hears something that acknowledges their struggles to balance home, family, jobs, relationships, and budgets while trying to maintain a sense of self, it resonates. When they see their cultural heritage reflected, they feel validated.
Marketers are starting to recognize the enormous value and impact that including multicultural audiences can have. Market research provides insight into various audiences so businesses can better customize their messages to expand their customer base. Digital marketing allows companies to reach out to these previously underrepresented groups with culturally relevant ads. It can create an instant connection that has long-lasting positive impacts on your brand.
What Multicultural Marketing Is and Why it Matters
Multicultural marketing involves adjusting your advertising to more specific audiences, especially those from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Historically, Hispanic-and Black-American audiences have been un or underrepresented on mainstream media, except on networks like Telemundo or BET. They are far from the only ethnic groups that have experienced that. Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, or groups from South and Southeast Asia, Africa, or Eastern Europe have not seen themselves acknowledged in most marketing.
Why is this important? As America becomes more cosmopolitan, representation is more critical than ever. In Chicago, the Latino population increased by 5%, and the Asian population increased by 31% throughout the 2010s. When you show that you are trying to acknowledge and honor all people, it creates goodwill and a safe space for people of these cultures to acclimate to their new city. Embracing inclusivity and inviting more people to experience your products or services helps you expand your marketing base and, ultimately, your customers.
Learn About Those You Want to Reach
Learning about your prospective customers is the first step in developing a multicultural marketing strategy. Market research lets you dive deeply into your new audience’s demographics, interests, and preferred channels where you can reach them. When you have insight into what is essential or what motivates a specific culture or ethnic group, you can craft meaningful content that resonates. You can also avoid embarrassing gaffes that can backfire and break the connection you tentatively started to establish.
Take, for instance, an ad from the beauty brand Dove that showed women of different races touting the benefits of using Dove on their skin. It was supposed to be a simple before-and-after example of how the product helped improve skin of all races. It imparted the wrong message that black skin was somehow dirty by portraying a black woman under a giant before the sign and a white woman under the after sign. Unfortunately, they did it again in 2017 with an ad that showed a black woman seemingly turning into a white one after using Dove.
Pay Attention to Cultural Details
A common misconception about multicultural or ethnically inclusive marketing is that you can’t make the ads relevant in English. However, many second-generation immigrants grew up as Americans and speak English. That misbelief also ignores that America is one of the few developed countries that don’t teach other languages as part of their required curriculums like many other countries do with English. However, you do need to pay attention to cultural specifics.
You must know which topics to avoid so that you don’t inadvertently alienate your target customers. Acknowledging their cultural norms shows respect, but there can be a fine line between representation and the appearance of cultural appropriation. Ask fashion icon Marc Jacobs about the backlash he experienced in a 2017 runway show where supermodels sported rainbow-colored dreadlocks or Gucci’s ill-advised turtleneck sweater stretched over a white model’s mouth to portray exaggerated lips reminiscent of blackface portrayals. Even the elegant and respected designer Carolina Herrera faced a complaint from the Mexican government when her Latin-inspired dresses seemed to appropriate details from the Tenango de Doria and Saltillo cultures.
Making sure your ads pay attention to cultural differences helps grow your business while creating a more inclusive society. Approaching your marketing campaigns from a place of love and respect helps you prevent making mistakes because you seek understanding for its positive benefit. It enables you to understand what to not use in your marketing by avoiding mistakes that may make it obvious you don’t know and aren’t embracing their cultures. These are typically smaller-level mistakes of not adapting to a culture that still significantly impacts sales and can damage a lasting relationship. Conducting market research into these groups helps you understand their priorities, so you can adhere to your messaging accordingly to help you know which cultures see “low-cost” as “low-quality” or adapt food references to fit varied dietary norms.
Digital Marketing Can Bridge the Gap Between Cultures by Being Inclusive and Respectful
Everyone wants to feel seen for who they are and for their uniqueness. We all want to celebrate our own culture and even our differences. That’s how we learn about more than just our own experiences. Marketers have seen the vast untapped potential of being inclusive in their marketing strategy.
Digital marketing helps you bridge that gap. You don’t have to change the language to connect with those from other cultures. However, you want to make sure you do the appropriate market research and avoid any semblance of cultural insensitivity or appropriation. Doing it right has enormous upside potential, whereas doing it poorly can damage your brand.
The good news for marketers and business owners is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. An experienced media partner can help you find the best strategy for the many cultures of people who make up Chicago with your marketing.
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