A new multiculturalism is evolving and will change the face of advertising as it has started doing so in the US, a country marked and characterised by migration and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism has always pointed a finger at the minority. In the advertising industry it is treated as something not necessarily equal to but different from the majority.

The latest release of US Census 2010 information, revealed that Asian Americans with a
population of only 15 million have a total buying power larger than the GDP of countries such as
Egypt (Population 82 million), South Africa (population 49 million) or Columbia (population 45 million).
Asians in America have the highest average income among all racial or ethnic groups including white Americans.

The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change says Tim Wise author of the book White Like Me.

US experts such as David Burgos and Ola Mobolade in their recently launched book `Marketing to a New Majority’ warn of consequences of ignoring this market. The book states that “the business implications of this new normal are enormous. To stay relevant to consumers now and in the near future, brands need to re-think the way they do business. Ethnic consumers have become an integral part of the so called general market or mainstream, and are truly reshaping it. Brands must make ethnic segments an integral part of their overall business strategies if they want to remain viable and grow”.

The good news is that the US marketers are much more aware of the significant opportunity that the varying demographic groups present and realise that they can no longer afford to neglect the combined buying power of ethnic Americans who, according to estimates, make up US$1.3 trillion of all U.S. buying (source: www.americanmulticultural.com). So, to appeal to these highly lucrative and diverse audiences, many marketers are abandoning traditional mass-marketing practices in favour of tightly-focused, multicultural marketing efforts.

Wells Fargo is one of the pioneers in Multicultural Marketing in the US. Wells has worked on product development, channel strategies and communication strategies for multicultural audiences and the rest of the US banks and other marketers are fast catching up.

The ethnic diversity in the U.S. is reflective of a global landscape. It is important for Australian marketers to fully understand cultural differences, language treatments and purchase-drivers and to integrate those variations into their everyday marketing strategies and tactics. Tapping on direct translations from a lone office member who knows the language is not enough. It needs to follow the processes and systems as one would do for the mainstream audiences. Perhaps Census 2011 will shed more light on Multicultural Australians and invite marketers to think outside the square of converting multicultural audiences to a mass of faceless data.

By Sheba Nandkeolyar

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