LOS ANGELES: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is taking a "total and targeted" approach to multicultural marketing in the US, reflecting the changing demographics now reshaping the country.

Lauventria Robinson, the firm's vp/multicultural marketing, North America, told delegates at the 2013 ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference that this balanced outlook provided the best of both worlds.

"Our perspective is that it's not an either/or situation - it's both. Our approach is what we call 'total and targeted,'" she said.

"So if you look at how we work with the brand teams, it's about driving that inclusiveness in what's considered base marketing. But we're not walking away from very deep, targeted marketing for specific multicultural segments."

This has become a hot topic of conversation among marketers as more organisations adopt a "total market" model, which subsumes multicultural communications within the general strategy and budget.

"I think why this area is so controversial is that many companies have gone from multicultural marketing, and made this huge shift over to total marketing," said Robinson.

To enhance its multicultural marketing practices, Coca-Cola has "tiered" its various brands depending on their distinctive requirements.

Sprite, for example, has a core customer base of multicultural – and especially African-American – teens, but needs little help from specialist marketers, as the appropriate ethos is deeply embedded in all of its output.

Coke, by contrast, has a potentially universal audience, and so often employs bespoke messages and initiatives layered on top of overarching campaigns.

"The multicultural team spends a lot of time working with that brand," said Robinson.

Supporting these efforts are a centre of excellence, expert divisions focusing on African-American, Asian and Hispanic shoppers, and a cross-cultural team covering youth, teens and millennials.

Together, they help achieve an essential goal. "Find that one area where multicultural consumers really do behave differently, and own that space for your particular brand," Robinson advised.

Data sourced from Warc