ANA Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference inspires and encourages, and misses the mark.
MIREMS’ team attended the ANA’s Multicultural Marketing and Diversity conference earlier this month. We were eager to hear from the multicultural marketing industry’s leading experts, learn about where multicultural marketing is heading and see what companies and agencies are doing to connect with these diverse communities.
Experts spoke about the importance of connecting authentically; having diversity within your organization before heading out trying to capture a diverse market; multicultural outreach as a social good; the challenges of “showing the numbers” within multicultural marketing; and above all as P&G’s Mark Pritchard famously said “if you’re not doing multicultural marketing, you’re not doing marketing.”
But there was a lack of attention paid to public and media relations as a means to gain hearts and minds in diverse communities. Because of the very pervasive mantra of "if you can't count it, it doesn't exist," the fact that marketing in a diverse environment is about cross-cultural communication—a two-way street, not one-way advertising messages —is often lost due to the inability to understand cultural nuances.
Disney’s Theresa Cross, Jerry Daniello, Evelyn Livermore spoke about the success of Black Panther and audience’s hunger for content that is “committed” to their community. Roger Solé from Sprint and Jose E. Velez-Silva from Comcast spoke about their respective success in Hispanic markets. These experts spoke about their successes as rewards for risk taking. They made a commitment to the community they were trying to market to and it paid off. They were making grounds in participating in cross-cultural communication's two-way street. Though leaders also spoke of how companies across the country are still hesitant to “commit” to multicultural markets as the standard tools of ROI are lost in translation.
At the root of this fear is what Michael Lacorazza, Executive Vice President and Head of Integrated Marketing at Wells Fargo was talking about when he said: “If I can’t measure it, I can’t get credit for it.” While Velez-Silva and other speakers countered this notion, stressing that this fear is already out-dated: Demographic data trends show the general market/multicultural market divide will soon be a thing of the past.
This difficulty in tracking ROI in multicultural markets remains one of the biggest obstacles for diverse marketing, and though there was plenty of talk about how crucial it is to be authentic in multicultural initiatives, there was no clear answer on how this can be achieved. As on-the-ground insights into multicultural communities is MIREMS’ area of expertise, we were surprised that the country’s top multicultural experts were still stumped.
In our view, the best way to connect effectively with diverse communities is to pay attention to them. While data experts touted spreadsheets and heatmaps with demographics and socioeconomic statistics, few could clearly articulate which languages are spoken by people in their own neighbourhoods; what multicultural holidays are coming up this month; or how local multilingual print, web, radio and TV media was responding to their projects.
We were inspired to hear companies speak about the work they’re doing internally to reflect the communities they are trying to reach, and happy to see them beginning to see the value in looking at incoming population trends. But we challenge and encourage them to put their ear to the ground and bridge the gap between multicultural marketing intent and action.
Local and national ethnic media broadcasts daily, nation-wide. Punjabi, Mandarin, Spanish, Haitian-Creole, French, Arabic and on and on is heard, read and watched and engaged with by these multicultural populations. And there are few things more authentic that someone’s mother tongue.
Monitoring this media solves the echoed questions of “how do I connect authentically?” and “How do I track my authentic success?” And indeed, as the multicultural market becomes less of a unique fight-for-dollars segment, this understanding will certainly pay off. The two-way street of cross-cultural communication is essential to understanding and capitalizing on a multicultural market.
Asian diversity still an afterthought: