Marketing to a multiethnic audience

Appealing to a multiethnic community takes more than simply printing brochures in different languages or hiring a bilingual salesperson.

Appealing to a multiethnic community takes more than simply printing brochures in different languages or hiring a bilingual salesperson. It takes a commitment and a willingness to adjust business practices to meet the unique needs of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and others.

The combined buying power of racial minorities (African-Americans, Asians and Native Americans) will rise from $1.6 trillion in 2010 to $2.1 trillion in 2015, accounting for 15% of the nation's total buying power, according to a report by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. The study projects that minority markets will continue to grow much faster than the majority market, where buying power increased by 49% over the past decade. And as whites head toward minority status by mid-century, according to Census Bureau projections, Hispanic, Asian, and African-American populations are growing faster. That said, is there any wonder why major brands have begun taking their cues from minority communities when creating PR and marketing campaigns? 

But first things first: all Latinos, all African-Americans, and all Asian-Americans are not the same. Shocking, I know, but it's true. Economic, education, and life conditions separate individuals within the same culture. Many media relations and marketing firms believe they can box in African-Americans, or box in Latinos, and then run a general market campaign, or what's worse, craft a message touting age-old racial stereotypes with the hope of the audience finding relatable factors. In order to craft a “Latino-focused message” or an “African-American-focused” message, a company must identify key commonalities within communities, study buying patterns and interests, and assess what works and what does not by connecting directly with members of each community – scaling the economic lines. This is obvious to some, but not a common knowledge shared by many.

And once the message is crafted, the delivery must reflect an equal appreciation for and understanding of the culture. What's more, as evidenced by brands such as McDonald's, minorities have influenced mainstream preferences. That said, instead of spending the majority of the marketing budget on general marketing efforts, companies should take campaigns geared specifically towards Latinos or African-Americans and put general marketing dollars behind them.

And where should they put their money? Traditional media may not be the answer. Find out more on Wednesday in the next blog post in this series.

Megan Smith is the principal of Philadelphia-based media relations firm Brownstone PR. Find her on Twitter at  @BrownstonePR and @MeganRSmith83

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