5 multicultural marketing pitfalls to avoid

Cambridge Group's Eddie Yoon lays it out at the Ethnic Consumer Marketing Conference

Multicultural marketing campaigns are a great opportunity to connect with growing market segments, but making a good impression can be complex.

Between 2006 and 2011, 1.2 million people immigrated to Canada. Under that umbrella, there are more than 200 subgroups and subcultures that have different behaviours and expectations. So how do you successfully reach these undersupplied groups?

And, how do you reach these groups without offending them (like this), and without making over-generalizations?

At this year’s Ethnic Consumer Marketing Conference, Eddie Yoon, a principal at the Cambridge Group in Chicago, offered a few key tips to create successful multicultural campaigns.

Look beyond demographics
Yoon said demographics can’t tell the whole story about any ethnic subculture. Culture can’t fit into a box you check off on a form. You may be both Japanese and Caucasian, or Indian and Hispanic.

Instead, you have to look at more specific math to discover cultural trends. For example, instead of relying on the assumption that all members of a particular generation behave in the same way, consider behavioural data and case studies to discover where the demand truly exists.

Cultural overlaps exist
Behavioural data can also show that your evolved consumer base may be different than your original target market. Yoon gave the example that while the American television show Empire was targeted at African-Americans, a large percentage of viewership continues to be members of other ethnic groups, such as Hispanics or Caucasians. In other words, don’t assume that a mainstream audience will only consume mainstream products and services, and don’t assume niche markets will only consume niche products and services.

Rely on super consumers
Super consumers are the people that represent 10% of your consumer base but can account for 30% or more of sales, said Yoon. This group generally has strong emotional feelings about their favourite products, and because of that, they derive more insight from their consumption.

Someone who is a super consumer in one category is likely a super consumer of several others, Yoon said. If you understand the super consumer, you can understand many aspects of the market and the popular trends.

Discover latent demand
Latent demand (the idea that a consumer want is unsatisfied because the product or service doesn’t exist) can be a clue as to what multicultural markets might respond well to. Yoon said only 15% of Korea’s DramaFever streaming service’s regular consumers are Asian because other ethnicities aren’t adequately supplied. This also relates back to the idea that there will be overlap between mass and niche markets depending on where demand exists.

Meet the demand strategically
Yoon said there are three strategies to reach underserved niche markets. First, you can redefine mainstream. Bud Light Lime, for example, was created to offer a niche spin on a mainstream product.

Second, you can rely on authenticity. Corona is an authentic product that is commonly served with lime, and appeals to the same niche market as Bud Light Lime.

Or third, you can create a mash-up of mainstream and authentic products. Yoon’s example of Bud Light Lime-a-rita was a brand new product that served both the lime flavour segment as well as the mixed drink and beer segments.

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