- More than 20 years experience consulting with clients seeking to engage multicultural audiences through digital technology and social media.
- Clients have included MTV, Discovery Networks, Scholastic, United Technologies, Denny's, The Employment Channel, the Greater Talent Network.
- A leader of efforts to transform Harlem into a center for technology innovation as a way to bring tech companies and startups to upper Manhattan.
- 10 years experience as a cable network executive with Showtime Networks, the Sega Channel and Comedy Central.
- All 8 Best Practices
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- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
Multicultural Marketing and Communications
- Companies fail to comprehend the fact that the mainstream market is now multicultural.
Many companies see multicultural marketing as an optional addition to their “mainstream” marketing effort. They prefer a “total market” approach, pouring most of their resources into a single iconic message, which they then distribute through old media.
These companies are ignoring the fact that the three fastest-growing population segments in the U.S. are Hispanic, African-American and Asian and that the mainstream market is now a multicultural one. They are also ignoring the enormous power and reach of digital media.
- Companies lack knowledge regarding the diversity within the multicultural market.
- To penetrate the multicultural market, companies first need to better understand it. This isn't always easy because the multicultural market is very diverse.
The Latino community on the East coast, for instance, is dominated by Caribbeans, with Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in the majority. They don't necessarily relate to Hispanics on the West coast, who are more likely to be Mexican. There's no one African-American market, no one Asian-American market, and no one Hispanic-American market. Culture goes beyond a person's ethnicity and varies widely according to geography, gender, age, education, lifestyle and interests.
The lines are blurring and subsets are proliferating.
- Digital marketing needs to be a core marketing strategy for reaching multicultural audiences, but it is often seen instead as a low-cost add-on.
- Many companies think of the internet as a low-cost way to gain some added visibility. They think they can just hire a few interns to shape and run their social media content. Big mistake. This isn't something extra. This isn't an addition. This is where most of the population now lives.
It's where we get our news, our entertainment. It's where we socialize. It's the new "word of mouth" and it plays a key part in how we make purchase decisions. We are not necessarily looking at that big ad in The New York Times anymore, and we're fast-forwarding through those pricey spots on TV. We're going to Priceline and Travelocity to book travel arrangements, to Yelp to figure out where to eat, and to Amazon to buy everything from a calendar to a new couch.
This is particularly true with the multicultural market. Even in the communities where not everyone can afford cable TV, everyone does have a smart phone!
- Companies can find it difficult to shape an effective multicultural message.
- Companies that do understand the importance of the multicultural market still face challenges when it comes to connecting with that market in a meaningful way.
In many cases, those trying to shape the message have little or no personal connection to the market they're trying to reach. It's not familiar turf. They do not come from that community themselves. They know there's some sensitivity. They know there's been a legacy of mistrust. There are cultural barriers and often also language barriers.
These companies are anxious to do the right thing but are not sure how to go about it and they don't want to make mistakes.
- Companies don't know how to identify the right digital platform.
- The multicultural market is not only very diverse, but there's an added layer of complexity in the use of digital devices. Various population segments use their devices in different ways. Even companies that recognize the importance of digital and multicultural marketing can have problems matching the right message to the right device.
- Companies fear or lack confidence in their ability to engage in two-way communication with the multicultural customer.
- The internet is a wonderful environment for feedback. It's fast, highly informative, and offers the chance to create an ongoing communication with the community.
With the multicultural market, this is particularly important because there's been a legacy of mistrust. For Latino and African-American audiences in particular, participation is key. But many companies do not yet feel confident enough to invite in this sort of outside participation, or are unsure as to how to best introduce and manage that sort of dialogue.