Multicultural marketing needs new approach

03 June 2010

NEW YORK: Brands hoping to connect with Hispanic, African American and Asian shoppers in the US could benefit from focusing on the similarities between these consumers rather than their differences.

GlobalHue, the multicultural adveritsing agency, conducted interviews with some 8,300 adults in these demographics in order to ascertain their current views and preferences.

Overall, it reported that two distinct groups were emerging, the first of which was positive about the future and actively engaged in society, and the second of which was pessimistic and felt disenfranchised.

More specifically, 54% of the contributors to its study were upbeat regarding their prospects going forward, while 46% assessed their personal outlook as being considerably less favourable.

Two-thirds of participants with an Asian background were confident that their circumstances would continue to improve, while 50% of African Americans displayed above-average levels of "engagement".

Attitudes were mixed among Hispanic respondents to the poll, with the most positive members of this audience said to be "those that are bicultural and feel empowered to pick and choose from multiple cultures."

Based on these results, GlobalHue identified a wide variety of different market segments that were argued to cut across its sample as a whole.

One such cluster was the "haves", which represented 71 million Americans, and was said to be the most attractive target for advertisers as it was made up of well-educated, optimistic individuals with high incomes.

Almost a third of this group were Asian shoppers, a total that stood at 21.5% for African Americans and 16.5% for Hispanics.

Elsewhere, many young Hispanic and African-American consumers were described as "techies", a profile that correlates with 20.3% of the total US population.

Alongside an interest in technology and impressive levels of digital literacy, techies are characterised by a resistance to traditional brand communications, meaning marketers must adopt innovative strategies.

One of the most negative communities identified by the report were the "engaged worriers", on 23.1%, who were currently displaying considerable anxiety about their prospects.

Similarly, "downscale wrong-trackers", or 20.1% of the panel, are facing considerable financial challenges and do not believe this situation will change substantially in the short-to-medium term.

"The backdrop to many of the decisions made by the American consumer today is the degree of optimism or pessimism that they feel," Don Coleman, chairman of GlobalHue, said.

"To understand the new America today requires more than a single cultural lens. Instead, it is as meaningful to look for cross-ethnicity similarities as it is to acknowledge cultural differences."

Data sourced from GlobalHue; additional content by Warc staff