Before You Appropriate Black Culture, ‘You Better Ask Somebody’ 10 Takeaways From Multicultural Marketing Conference

Before You Appropriate Black Culture, ‘You Better Ask Somebody’ 10 Takeaways From Multicultural Marketing Conference

More than half the Fortune 500 companies saw revenue declines last year. The Association of National Advertisers has identified inclusiveness, multicultural marketing and talent as key drivers of growth.

Multicultural leaders from top-tier brands took the stage to talk about reaching diverse consumers at the ANA’s annual Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference, held on Nov. 5-to-Nov. 7 in Miami Beach.

These are just a few of the important insights shared by presenters. They are not in order of importance. They are equally important.

10 Takeaways From the 2017 ANA Multicultural Marketing Conference

1. Multicultural consumers lead the way in effective years of buying power

Translation: because the median age of multicultural consumers is younger, they have more years to buy stuff.

2. The veil of the “total market” charade has been pierced.

Marc Pritchard (chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble) in his powerful presentation, outlined the four myths driving marketing to communities of color today:

  • Myth: Multicultural marketing is the job of a separate, specialized group or person.
  • Myth: Our brand’s general advertising campaign is broadly appealing to every ethnic group.
  • Myth: We’ll reach them anyway with our general market media buy.
  • Myth: Our agencies know how to market to multicultural consumers.

P&G’s antidote to reclaim their consumers and their business: doubling down on targeted media and the agencies that specialize in multicultural consumers.

Black Americans Have the Highest Mortality Rates But Lowest Levels of Life Insurance
Are you prioritizing your cable entertainment bill over protecting and investing in your family?
Smart Policies are as low as $30 a month, No Medical Exam Required
Click Here to Get Smart on Protecting Your Family and Loves Ones, No Matter What Happens

3. It’s not either/or. It’s and. The success is in the “and”

“Better serving our multicultural customers better serves all of our customers.”  — Tony Rogers, SVP chief marketing officer of Fortune No. 1 company Walmart.

All of Walmart’s growth is coming from multicultural consumers. In his presentation, Tony Rogers also suggested that it’s not about the total market, but understanding and leveraging what he calls cultural fluency.

4. On the path forward to intentionally creating a diverse workforce and inclusive environment, the client and agency have to be all in.

Roger Adams, chief marketing officer at USAA, and Renetta McCann, chief talent officer at ad agency Leo Burnett, excellently presented their real-time case study outlining the 4-point comprehensive approach of education, recruitment, onboarding growth and retention, and celebration. They also shared the outstanding year-to-date results of their efforts and are now entering the retention phase.

It was a critical business imperative for USAA because at least a third of their customer base, which are members of the U.S. military, is multicultural. The necessity of building diverse agency teams and an inclusive environment was also echoed by Tony Rogers of Walmart and Diego Scotti, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Verizon.

Offering the excuse, “We couldn’t find anyone,” is unacceptable today. (Actually, it’s quite lame for a host of reasons.)

5. Companies that are risk averse are leaving tomorrow’s profit on the table

Stan Little, senior vice president of SunTrust Bank, shared the perspective of a conservative company in a highly regulated industry recognizing and embracing the business opportunity among multicultural consumers and communities. Sun Trust’s most profitable clientele are middle-aged white men who are now retiring and drawing on the assets they were once depositing.  SunTrust’s aha! moment: recognizing that consumers of color are the key to the bank’s future profitability.

There is an urgent need to commit to multicultural communities by aligning relevant business engagement. Activate three distinct and important entry points where consumers live, work and play. But first, commit to do no harm. Do well by doing good.

6. Through whose eyes are you viewing the world?

Change your rule book. Take the time and make the commitment to understand your customer’s world. Surround yourself with people of different points of view, different cultural experiences and lifestyles. Great common-sense advice from both Manoj Raghunandanan, Johnson & Johnson vice president of marketing of U.S. OTC, and Philip Polk, vice president of multicultural strategies at Hallmark.

7.  African American millennials set the trends of pop culture, but they are not as mainstream as data suggests

Marketers need to get permission before appropriating this consumer’s culture and influence, said multicultural market research expert Pepper Miller of the Hunter-Miller Group. In her presentation, “Hiding in Plain Sight,” Miller informed the audience of marketers and agencies of this important distinction. As Stan Little of SunTrust said two days later in his presentation, “you better ask somebody”.

8. Music is key for connecting with multicultural consumers

It is not uncommon for Black and Latino audiences to identify an artist and create the surge that eventually catapults them to trend-worthy hashtags and mainstream popularity. Nidia Serrano, senior manager of Pandora, highlighted this for the pre-conference audience.

9. The total market approach to advertising and marketing has been “misinterpreted and misunderstood”

The total market approach also has a high propensity for failure.  That revelation was shared by marketers at Clorox and Coca-Cola. They have intentionally been left anonymous.

10. The industry seems to still have difficulty grasping that multicultural consumer segments include Asian, African American and Latino.

All three of these segments represent the margin of difference to a brand’s future viability and profitability.

It was particularly interesting to hear clients call for diverse staffing at agencies. That has certainly been a long time coming. It remains to be seen whether agencies heed the seriousness of this or if there will be any consequences if they don’t.

There was also a recurring complaint that there were no metrics or ability to measure success among multicultural consumers. Big data cannot help here. The power and opportunity in multicultural segments is in the nuances and cultural experiences — the very data points that big data anonymizes. However, with the exception of the Asian consumer segment, there is quite a bit of data on what multicultural consumers watch and buy.

At the end of the day, you have to know who is purchasing and using your products and services. If you don’t, consider that you may need to get hyper-local and meet your customers where they work, live and play in order to better understand and service them.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. It is reposted here with the permission of the author, Deborah Gray-Young.