How CEOs & CMOs Can Get Multicultural Marketing Right

Marketers need to understand that multiculturalism influences and fuels mainstream marketing.

In the last several years, the digital ad industry has made considerable moves toward embracing diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups. But there’s still a great gap between the rhetoric and intention of industry leaders, and the reality of how brands are reaching – and failing to reach – diverse audiences.

The technology exists to connect marketers at scale with publishers and content these audiences engage with. But, marketing decision-makers still struggle to identify the best avenues through which to reach multicultural audiences and to best use the available technology to connect in relevant ways. 

There are a number of reasons for this discrepancy between intention and meaningful action. Many brands still lack the internal multicultural representation to inform better alignment of messaging between campaigns and diverse audiences. Throughout the industry, there’s still a lack of data-driven insights about the most effective paths to reaching diverse audiences across the web. Also, marketers are using overly generalized strategies. In many cases, they may simply lack the technology to draw nuanced insights that prevent such pitfalls. 

Marketers need to understand that multiculturalism influences and fuels mainstream marketing. Their messaging to diverse groups needs to be aligned with their mass market messaging. While internal representation in the brand’s marketing team needs to be the first step, marketers need to take further steps and make better use of the technology available to them. That tech is currently not being used enough to enable a brand’s initiatives of reaching diverse audiences and delivering relevant, aligned messaging.

While it’s critical to have internal representation on the brand marketing teams — and should be considered step one — let’s talk about the next steps of the equation, the tech side. Brands need culturally intelligent targeting solutions to connect authentically and meaningfully with their consumers.  

Tools for Effective Multicultural Marketing

Leverage Advanced Audience Data  

Advanced Audience Data can help brands create more targeted campaigns by providing insights into consumers’ behaviors, attitudes, and preferences. These insights can be used to inform campaign strategy and messaging, as well as targeting decisions to reach audiences within the digital ecosystem.

With the collection of data from multiple sources (such as social media and online/offline data), advertisers can learn more about their audiences than ever before: everything from their purchasing habits to their political affiliations. This information can then be compiled into reports that marketers use to create more effective campaigns that will reach the right people at the right time and resonate with their consumers.

Partner with Multicultural Endemic Publishers

Advertisers can reach a broad Multicultural audience segment while also helping to increase the representation of writers from underrepresented communities. Examples of Multicultural Endemic Publishers include publications that focus on Asian-American men’s interests or those geared toward Hispanic women, as well as websites dedicated to those who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

These publishers tend to have niche audiences than mainstream publications because they appeal to a specific demographic; however, they can be very effective at reaching their target audiences because of their diverse voices and content.

Don’t Limit Outreach to Inclusion Lists

“Inclusion Lists” are groups of publications geared toward a certain demographic. For example, when marketers aim to target an African-American audience, they may choose to advertise on an inclusion list that includes media outlets with a readership sharing the same racial composition as the target audience.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that while these publications encompass the desired racial demographic, other aspects of their audience’s demographics may not align precisely with the criteria. If a brand’s goal, for example, is to reach African Americans with a household income exceeding $100,000, selecting websites with a more financially affluent readership would likely be a more effective choice, as their readers’ average household income better matches the desired target audience. Additionally, ethnicity targeting can ensure precise reach within the desired audience.

Avoid Overly Restrictive Brand Safety Automation

A significant obstacle hindering the achievement of diverse, equitable, and inclusive advertising lies in the overly rigid automation of brand safety measures. Frequently, advertisers construct block lists that encompass a wide range of terms to avoid advertising alongside content deemed unacceptable by conventional standards. However, this approach can result in unintended consequences, effectively discriminating against media outlets owned by and featuring underrepresented communities.

Advertisers and agencies should adopt a more informed block strategy rather than resorting to a blanket approach and blocking content that conforms to outdated keywords tailored for a narrow demographic. This involves gaining a deep understanding of the cultural nuances and vernacular specific to diverse backgrounds, enabling the creation of brand safety lists that safeguard against genuine risks without unjustly excluding valuable content.  

Diverse Spending Plans Generate Incremental Revenue

Despite the influence multicultural groups have on mainstream culture, they are often a neglected and underserved demographic. It’s been proven that marketers who invest in these consumer groups drive sales and gain market share, so why aren’t more making the leap?

A more diverse spending plan generates incremental revenue for brands. By not implementing this strategic approach to multicultural marketing, brands, and tech companies are losing big revenue. In a 2022 study by ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, it was found that showcasing relevant advertisements in resonant media programming led to a notable increase in sales ranging from 17% to 38%. Moreover, there was a significant boost in trust among multicultural consumers, with an increase ranging from 46% to 52%. In-house programmatic trading teams have room for improvement.