CHICAGO: US marketers need to stop thinking in terms of how to do multicultural marketing and instead focus on simply doing good marketing in a multicultural nation, an industry figure has said.

There is a big difference between the two approaches, explains David Burgos, SVP/Cultural Strategy at Kantar, in a Warc Best Practice paper – How to market effectively in a multicultural nation.

Most brands started their multicultural marketing efforts following a siloed approach, with for example, an African-American targeted advertisement, bilingual product packaging for Hispanics or a local market event for Chinese-Americans.

And while this may have delivered good results, it was missing a key dynamic of the real world in that "ethnic consumers do not live in silos".

The shift to a "total market" approach makes more business sense although a failure to properly appreciate what this entails – total marketing looks a lot like general marketing, but isn't – means brands are struggling to implement it, Burgos argues.

He observes that it is still very common to see brands do their foundational research and focused on the so-called general market – which tends to be synonymous with the non-Hispanic White consumer – before developing their marketing programs and only at the end of that process looking at how to adapt things to specific ethnic segments.

Far better, says Burgos, to incorporate the ethnic perspective early on in foundational research and then consistently throughout the marketing cycle.

That way, not only can marketers understand the real role of race or ethnicity within the context of all other human dimensions – such as life stage, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, etc – but they can also identify similarities and differences across and within the different racial or ethnic groups, including non-Hispanic White consumers.

But there is no one-size-fits-all total market strategy, Burgos cautions, while cross-cultural and targeted strategies are not mutually exclusive practices.

"In fact, combined approaches are often needed to be successful in today's marketplace. The challenge most marketers face is to find the right balance between the two."

Data sourced from Warc