Multicultural marketing is not easy, but it is imperative for success when brand messaging needs to resonate in a diverse market.

1. INVEST IN RESEARCH TO UNDERSTAND THE MARKET Allstate Insurance became an early adopter of multicultural marketing after hearing from its more than 10,000 community-based agents across the country, explains Georgina Flores, VP of marketing at the Northbrook, Ill.–based insurance company. “Agents were saying, ‘I have customers coming to my door who speak Chinese or Spanish, and I need to be able to connect with them,’” Flores says. “Our country has populations that change and shift in so many cultures. We recognized the need to provide services to customers from many different backgrounds.” Allstate is a past ANA Multicultural Excellence Award winner in the Asian-American category, and was honored in 2015 for a spot with universal appeal. The ad, which integrates both Hindi and English, shows an Indian father struggling to let go as his small son learns to bicycle through a bustling Indian market — then, years later, the now grown-up son feels the same sense of nervousness as he hands car keys over to his teenage daughter in America. This campaign, like all of Allstate’s multicultural marketing programs, was not conceived ad hoc, Flores explains. Rather it was based upon a research based awareness of a demographic shift. “We realized we were not speaking to the South Asian community, and looking at growth trends, this is the fastest growing ethnic segment in our country,” she says. “We do a lot of research and monitoring needs and preferences of these communities, and we figure out how to adapt our overall marketing strategy for whatever segment we’re talking to.”

2 KNOW WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE — AND MEASURE IT A focus on measurement is a hallmark of all great marketers, and those dedicated to multicultural marketing are no exception. Consider the example of Verizon Wireless, which keeps an eye on a broad range of metrics to stay ahead in the competitive mobile device market. “Our key performance indicators (KPIs) are really what drive us in absolutely everything,” says LaTasha Owens-Hobdy, cultural marketing manager at the Basking Ridge, N.J.–based company. “We measure everything, from how people are engaging with us in the digisphere to interactions at experiential events, and we are able to measure people clicking through to a purchase.” Measurement was a vital part of “#IAm,” a Verizon campaign nominated for a 2015 ANA Multicultural Excellence Award that rolled out in May of that year during Asian Pacific– American Heritage Month. The campaign encouraged users to use the #IAm hashtag to share stories of their success, while a microsite featured videos and statistics on Asian-Americans in non-traditional fields. Meanwhile, live events themed around the Chinese Lunar New Year led people to make a wish on a “virtual wish tree” using Verizon devices. All this engagement was of course measureable — not just in terms of clicks and shares, but also in sales leads. “What’s important for us is not just doing things at culturally relevant time frames, but to do them authentically,” Owens-Hobdy says. “It’s not only thinking through how the general marketing will work for different segments, but also understanding the important nuances that will bring that campaign to life and make it relevant to the appropriate segment.”

3 ASSIGN A QUARTERBACK In 2015, Wells Fargo launched an integrated campaign to convey the company’s appreciation of the many reasons why people work. Executed across multiple channels — from TV, digital video, and radio to in-store and on ATMs — the campaign had a consistent core theme focused on the value of work, but as part of the company’s total market approach, the messaging was adapted for different audiences. One of the commercials depicted the journey of a same-sex couple as they prepared to adopt a young deaf girl. The two women are shown working hard to learn sign language, leading up to meeting their new daughter. The ad was the company’s first national commercial featuring a same-sex couple, and showed that people work hard for different reasons, in this case to grow their family “For any of these campaigns, we have an integrated marketing lead that is the quarterback who is responsible for orchestrating all of the work that we are producing, both from a content perspective as well as the channel planning,” says Michael J. Lacorazza, EVP and head of integrated marketing at Wells Fargo. “They are the nucleus, driving forward all of the work and are ultimately accountable for the decision-making as well as the impact of the work.” Quarterbacking also means ensuring effective coordination of different agency partners, Lacorazza says.

4 LOOK WITHIN FOR IDEAS AND SUPPORT Marketers who are new to multicultural marketing may be overwhelmed by the effort — and budgets — required to get a platform of customized campaigns up and running. A good starting point, says Verizon’s Owens-Hobdy, is to look inside your organization for potential partners. “It’s important to understand who the key champions of multicultural marketing are within your organization,” she says. “It might be HR or a diversity team, or it might be employee resource groups (ERGs), or it might be your [corporate] foundation, because multicultural aligns closely with philanthropic efforts.” Owens-Hobdy cites her company’s sponsorship of the Essence Festival, which brings up to 500,000 (mostly African-American) visitors to New Orleans every year. The company continues to work with past partners like the NFL or NBA to reach cross cultural audiences, but also partners with the Verizon Foundation, which is launching a campaign focused on education in 2017. “We had different talent speak to the importance of STEM in education, and we had students from various different programs come to the festival, and we featured them in our mainstage moments,” Owens-Hobdy says. “That’s an example of how you can partner internally to meet the goals of the various teams. There might be different budgets that you can tap in to, and there are insights you can garner as well. … Multicultural marketing is not for the faint of heart. We often have fewer resources, but be diligent, because it’s very important work, particularly because we are speaking to many underserved communities.”

5 BUILD A TWO-WAY STREET Rather than think about multicultural campaigns as standalone pieces, the best marketers use multicultural campaigns as learning opportunities and testing grounds for their broader efforts. Consider the example of Allstate, which sponsors the Mexican National Soccer Team. Years ago, the company launched a clever campaign that focused not on the offensive goal-scorers, but on goalies, whose job of having “good hands” for purposes of “protection” aligned with the company’s brand purpose. Later, when the company entered the soccer space in the general market, it simply adapted what it had started in the Hispanic market, Flores says. Multicultural research, too, can help inform a company’s broader brand strategy. “When focus groups are more homogenous, you get more insights than when you have multicultural participants mixed together,” Flores says. “The conversation can turn and be different. There have been times when we’ve gained some of our overall strongest insight and brand strategy from listening to our Asian-American, Hispanic, or African-American focus groups — strong insights that help with our general market.”

6 CUSTOMIZE MESSAGING ACROSS — AND WITHIN — SEGMENTS Each market segment includes a variety of sub-groups that have their own needs and attitudes. The challenge for a marketer is to identify these subtle differences — and market to them accordingly. Wells Fargo, for example, launched a campaign targeting the Hispanic market themed around the idea of “Working Together,” to highlight the brand’s relationship-based approach to banking. Designed to connect with Spanish-proficient Hispanic consumers and small business owners, the campaign’s different executions included subtle variations. “Having access to a banker 24/7 via their phone is a really important service feature for the Spanish-preferred audience, so we just inserted that subtle feature into the same execution and you get a double-digit increase in impact,” Lacorazza says. The company adapted its campaign based on an array of insights — for example, that Hispanic culture tends to be more collective than individualistic, and success is often measured by the ability to provide a better life for loved ones. To target individual consumers, the company launched an ad in which a trucker spends time away from his family to pay for his daughter’s college education, something he himself never had. The company specifically cast the trucker to be a Hispanic driver and independent small business owner who was a homeowner. Meanwhile, to target owners of Hispanic family-run businesses, Wells Fargo produced a spot showing a family operating a beauty products business out of their home, switching back and forth between English and Spanish. “We are in a constant state of self-improvement to try and be better at how we do this,” Lacorazza says.

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