Everyone in marketing knows by now the ethnic consumer is an opportunity for their brands. According to Stats Canada, visible minorities will represent over 30% of the Canadian population by 2031. The two largest visible minority groups in Canada are South Asian and Chinese.
While working in this space, we have noticed the majority of organizations approach this opportunity by moving directly to execution, rather than conducting upfront discovery research to drive deeper understanding and empathy for the consumer to inform execution that is more resonant. The concern for many organizations is the perceived lack of ROI when investing in insights for this smaller yet emerging consumer cohort.
In our experience, more times than not, this approach is not successful because marketers do not fully understand ethnic consumers’ attitudes and behaviours or the cultural context in which their categories and brands are viewed.
And when a marketer missteps, it typically results in one of the following 3 responses:
- Marketer will work with agencies to launch a 2nd and potentially 3rd execution to try and crack the code
- Marketer shelves the opportunity because it doesn’t warrant further work
- Marketer identifies knowledge gaps and conducts research prior to beginning another round of execution
We find organizations that invest time and resources prior to execution have better results. A number of our clients have approached us after executing their initial plan and with lack luster results realized they could do better with an insight-led strategy.
Our most successful clients take a consumer-centric approach with a strong desire to build a relationship with the ethnic consumer rather than just gain a transaction. For these clients, we have followed consumers through the path to purchase to understand their journey. Leveraging these insights we have been able to identify opportunity areas that will drive stronger conversion along their path to purchase.
In some cases, what is important to a North American consumer may not be important to an ethnic consumer. In other cases, the benefits they desire may be similar, but the cultural context is different requiring the brand to be served up in a different manner.
Understanding these differences before moving to execution can go a long way to creating stronger, more effective marketing plans. So consider your approach carefully. A little investment upfront can payback many times over.
Susan Weaver is the managing director of Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design.