5 Ways to Create Meaningful Engagement with Multicultural Audiences

Multicultural audience events are intrinsic to the life of every migrant in Australia, along with their children and their children’s children. Whether you speak a language other than English, were born overseas or have ancestral roots in another country – the link to culture is one that continues to thrive (no matter how long you’ve lived in Australia). Using cultural insights to effectively engage with these audiences, at the grass-root level, can be the difference between simply reaching them, versus giving them a reason to believe in your brand or product.

“Aaj mere paas building hai, bank balance hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai. Kya hai tumhare paas?”

It’s been 40 years since the film Deewar hit the big screens, yet even today, those words are intensely moving and resonate deeply among us. If you’re Indian or South-Asian no less, the profundity of the words may be enough to make you think you’re in the scene with Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan (two major Bollywood powerhouses) themselves!

That’s Bollywood for you. But one thing our film industry has been able to capture uncompromisingly is the role of the Mother. Mothers are revered in South-Asian culture and play a central role in the family (as indeed they do in many cultures around the world). We learn from an early age that everything begins and ends with her. She is our ultimate teacher, protector and source of love there is and ever will be. She is Ma, Amma, Mai, Ammee, Mom.

The colours of Holi spread beyond India

The colours of the Indian festival Holi have extended across the globe, spread by Indian diaspora and those who appreciate Indian culture. Fiji, where nearly 45% of the population are of Indian origin, typically spends three days celebrating the festival and the country’s plurality every year. Fiji’s Multi-Ethnic Affairs Minister describes the event as one that breaks racial boundaries and spreads religious tolerance. Holi is also a public holiday in Mauritius, which has an Indian majority of 63%, and revellers throw colour with as much enthusiasm on the tiny island off the south eastern coast of Africa as they do in Holi’s homeland. Leicester, UK, which also has a large Indian community, sees upwards of 15,000 people celebrate each year, painting a normally green part of England, not only red, but pink, blue and yellow.  Singapore becomes a mini India during the Holi festival.

Diwali — The Indian Christmas

Diwali or Deepavali is popularly known as the “festival of lights” and is the most important and biggest of all Hindu Festivals. It is like Christmas for the Indian community. For an Indian business owner it would be the start of a new financial calendar. The festival is normally marked by four days of celebration and literally illumines India with its brilliance, and dazzles all Indians with its joy. Each of the four days of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.

The Origin of Diwali
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was most likely an important harvest festival. Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Others consider it to be a celebration of the return of Lord Rama from exile.

Four Days of Diwali
Each day of Diwali has its own tale, legend and myth to tell. The first day of the festival marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. The second day of Deepavali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. It is on the third day of Deepavali that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj) and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes and prepare a lavish meal for them.

The Significance of Lights & Firecrackers
The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers evoke the blessings of the Gods for the attainment of wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. Another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.

The Tradition of Gambling
The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend behind it. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is therefore  associated with wealth and prosperity.

From Darkness Unto Light…
In each legend, myth and story of Deepavali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil. Truth finds new reason and hope in the coming year. From darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity.

A perfect time for marketing
Diwali is celebrated around the globe. Outside India, it is more than a Hindu festival, it’s a celebration of
South-Asian identities. Festivals are organised and celebrated in Australia too. These festivals are a great platform  for marketing to Indians. Practically every city in Australia has a Diwali fair with the Sydney Diwali Fair being held at Parramatta Stadium on the 30th of October. Come to the festival…we may just be able to do a Samosa (a popular Indian savoury) together or perhaps a Kaju Barfi (the queen among Indian sweets)!

By Sanchay Mohan

I am a 1.5er and I love K POP!

Who am I?  I am ethnic, yet not ethnic enough! I am Australian, yet not Australian enough! I am becoming Australian, yet so different! I am a very complex individual, I am a 1.5er!

‘1.5’ generation refers to immigrants who have come in with their parents either as children or at most as teenagers. They bring with them faint memories of their home countries and spend their formative years in Australia.   

“…(These) are people who belong to more than one world, speak more than one language (literally and metaphorically), inhabit more than one identity, have more than one home, who have learned to negotiate and translate between two cultures” – Stuart Hall- Cultural Theorist/Sociologist.

The ‘in-between’ generation are able to immerse into their new country, unlike their parents. They attend local schools, mingle with Australian peers, learn to speak the local language and grow up with an intimate knowledge of their new country’s culture. However, at the same time, they also grow up with the values and traditions of their birth country. In the family home, their parents and grandparents try to retain their origin culture and a sense of stability amidst an environment of change.

So while they might be comfortable negotiating their academic and career paths outside their homes, once inside their homes they revert to the family’s customs, traditions and expectations. They lead a unique hyphenated identity quite unlike the ‘regular’ youth who can trace their ancestry back to 3 or more generations in Australia.

So you see, our identities are much more complex than defined by simple demographics or language usage. So while we may act like the other ‘Aussie’ youth, speak English without an accent, there are still vast differences. Differences that are deeply rooted to our respective country of origin culture. The difference is in the value systems passed down from our parents and origin  culture, traits like a strong belief in family first, frugality, education and community.

The spend patterns of 1.5ers are very much reflective of this dichotomy. Cultural patterns dominate the purchase decisions…be it financial, wealth or health! Or else why would a 1.5 generation immigrant youth barely 25 years old think of saving to buy a property investment, now that THEY HAVE A FULL TIME JOB!

Marketers would do well to know that a sizeable number of 1.5 Gens are now getting married and growing up. Where we used to think nothing of spending $200 on a pair of jeans, our priorities will change as life turns to investments and wealth creation fuelled by our parents ambitions. Our entertainment continues to be deep rooted to our origin. We delve into our community publications to access latest country of origin news and for entertainment! Marketers may do well to be present at Sydney Olympic Park at the K-Pop (Korean Pop) festival happening on the 12th of November! See you there!

By Raji Kumar

From Holi to Halloween

It’s 11:30 am. You are walking past Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour as your Ipod croons M.J’s ‘Black or white’. You suddenly see a whole lot of people coated in colour from head to toe playfully spurting water on each other. As you revel in this moment of contradiction, you realise the synchronicity of Australia and India during the month of March.

On one side there is a vivid and beautiful autumn bloom of Orange — the Color City of Australia. On the other side in India, it is the spring time festival of colours — Holi.

Holi celebrations include lighting of bon fires to signify the death of the demon and throwing colours at each other in a playful spirit. In countries like South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom, United States, Mauritius, and Fiji.  March is also the time for advertisers and marketers to put their thinking caps on to maximise on the buying power of their large Indian diaspora. The Citibank NRI ad last year targeted the Indian audience in America with the line ‘Holi to Halloween and Lassi to Latte’.

Metlife, a leading global insurance provider also punched in some colour with a campaign featuring six T.V commercials showing profound cultural occasions in a South-Asian American’s life.

The angle was quite simple, it is important to pass on cultural values and  traditions to future generations, as it is important to pass on a secure financial future to your next generation. Metlife realised this in their marketing messages “With you in your life”.  

When it comes to reaching the multicultural audiences, culturally relevant ads are an excellent avenue, however experiential marketing and community event sponsorships are other forms of direct marketing reaching the audience, when they are most receptive to such messages.

By Priya Rao