Its that time of year where we make (and break) our new year's resolutions. While an artificial benchmark, a new year gives us an opportunity to look back, ahead and prepare to be better. How did you do with last year's resolutions? It might be worth a look back. Unlike unrealistic goals we might set with our personal resolutions, I encourage you to think about how making these few tweaks to your multicultural marketing strategy can yield measurable results in 2018 and beyond. Here are my top 5 Multicultural Marketing New Year's Resolutions for 2018
Say Goodbye to Overused Stock Images
I was having a great twitter conversation this weekend with one of my brothers about stock imagery, (shout to @GoGoGadgetGuy. Great follow by the way.) In 2018, resolve to resist the urge to use generic stock imagery. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I'm guilty. As GoGoGadgetGuy pointed out, its often a challenge to find creative, culturally relative stock images without a serious budget. This I can't disagree with.
As a blogger, one of the greatest challenges I face with publishing each week is what images to use. That was until I realized that images need to communicate a message, but not necessarily literally. Multicultural consumers stand on the frontlines of inginuity. As marketers, we're challenged with meeting them where they are, and that includes creatively. Instead of stock imagery of people, which require release forms and express permissions, think about what you're trying to convey and how the objects, even places around you are consistent with that message and communicate it, even if in an abstract way. Your images shouldn't tell your reader what to think but invite them to do so.
Swipe Left on Cultural Nights
I'm a huge baseball fan and take no greater joy than spending the day at the ballpark. At some point however, the purity of the experience wasn't enough. The on-demand world, controlled by mobile devices, created competing interest and a decline in sales. Teams scrambled to find gimmicks to get people to the stadium giving rise to the "cultural night" phenomenon. Marketing departments ran to the costume store to buy up all available sombreros, hired a mariachi band to play on the concourse, issued two-for-one Corona specials and featured spicy tacos on the menu boards in celebration of "Latin Heritage." Not only is it hokey, its often offensive because it assumes that ethnic groups are of the same culture. There's nothing more degrading than to blanket an entire world of people related only by the language they speak.
This trend has now expanded to many different industries and each successive one more poorly executed than the last. We have preached the importance for marketers to get more granular and be more creative in how they understand and thus engage multicultural consumers. Before we can celebrate culture, its best we understand it. What we'll find is, its probably more effective to celebrate Generation C at the ballpark than Latin Heritage.
Commit To Deregulating Culture
As consumer behaviors become more diverse, how we define culture is changing. No longer is a cultural group defined by an age range, skin color or demographic but more by what consumers consume and how they do it. Cultural groups are built around once-forgotten, turned cult classic television shows. The sneaker culture has evolved into viable GDP contributor. There are various cultures growing around food, those that grow it responsibly and sustainablely, those that cook it and the various nuances involved in the culinary experiences. While those more common examples have incubated independent economies, its important for marketers to stay abreast of the cultures evolving around their industry. Reddit is a great resource for consumers who look to invest more deeply in communicating about their fandom.
Join the Conversation
Have you noticed that people have become a lot more opinionated in the last year? I'm not sure if this is a real or even measurable phenomenon or we are just more exposed to those opinions. The last election cycle certainly drew lines in the sand and "forced" people to take sides. While I would argue its made us a much more argumentative society and created much more devisiveness, the silver lining for marketers is its made people far more vocal and willing to engage. Apps like GroupMe and Whatsapp along with Facebook's Messenger have made group discourse much more efficient. Its not uncommon for an multicultural millennial now to follow dozens of different chats with hundreds of members a peice, contributing to each daily. While this might not be good for global productivity, it provides an outlet and platform for engagement. In 2018 invest in chats. Find ones that cater to your multicultural buyer persona. Its important not to be "pitchy" but use the platforms to better understand your customers, their values, concerns and most importantly needs. Then fulfill them.
Focus on Women
We often don't consider women to be a cultural group but the fact is they are, and our largest. There's been a tremendous amount of energy revolving around female empowerment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and powerful men exposed for exploiting their power for sexual impropriety. The #metoo hashtag has broken records as one of the most used ever on social media, but now what? How do we move forward and what does that mean for multicultural marketing?
One of the understated observations I made coming out of 2016's presidential election is regardless of where your politics lie, the United States appears more receptive to entrusting a man of color to lead than a woman. This could certainly be debated but one trend we'll see moving forward is women as whole exerting their voice and demanding a collective seat at the table. In the new year, resolve to be unapologetically supportive of woman's rights. Be intentional about doing an more complete audit of your female buyer persona's experience. Hold a focus group. Are you serving their needs? If not, you may want to consider an adjustment in your marketing strategy. Examine your internal operations. Be cognizant of gender salary disparities. While you might not be a C-Suite executive, but understand and communicate that the way in which your company treats its female employees communicates a louder message, positive or negative than it has in the past.