April is Diversity Month, the perfect time to recognize the backgrounds of our colleagues and communities – and get strategic about multicultural marketing. At Jackson Spalding, we strive to do this all year long. We believe honoring diversity is important and feel a strong sense of responsibility for it. As part of this effort, we’re proud to be one of the metro Atlanta companies that support ATL Action for Racial Equity – an initiative that addresses the pervasive effects of system racism by leveraging the collective power of the business community.
Every day, we continually strengthen the respect and inclusivity we’ve always held dear within our agency. We are encouraging our teams to bring their whole selves to work. And on top of that, we are supporting clients as they endeavor to do the same for their employees.
But for many of our clients, honoring diversity isn’t limited to employees. They’re doing all they can to connect with consumers and to recognize the many cultures that make up their audiences. And we love being part of that — our Multicultural Communications Team helps clients ideate and create campaigns that go beyond a blanket approach, strategically reaching multicultural audiences with the attention they deserve but haven’t always received. That kind of connection is more important now than ever, for two key reasons.
First, multicultural audiences are continuing to grow with no signs of slowing. The Census Bureau projected the U.S. will be a multicultural majority nation by 2044, meaning African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics/Latinos together will comprise 50 percent or more of the population. And with that demographic shift comes an increase in buying power.
Second, more people — nearly 60 percent — expect brands to take a stand on issues rooted in bringing equity to people of color. Sometimes the quietest brands send the loudest message to consumers who care about issues like racial equity and social justice, and this has an impact on spending: according to a July 2020 survey, 50 percent of Americans researched online to see how a brand reacted to racial and social injustice issues before making a purchase.
The bottom line is multicultural audiences want to see themselves authentically represented and respected by companies, and a large percentage of the general public is made up of active allies for people of color on the front lines of social justice. Brands can and should play a role, and when they don’t, they risk alienating important audiences.
Which may leave you wondering where your company stands. Has your organization considered your approach to multicultural marketing? Do you know who your multicultural audiences are? Have you customized your outreach to these audiences based on their habits, language, media consumption, etc.? Are you feeling confident about what to do next when it comes to strategic multicultural communications or uncertain about where to begin?
The stakes are high. So, no matter where you are today, consider these three planning tips for effectively engaging multicultural audiences:
Lay the foundation internally before you make moves externally. We always recommend an inside to outside approach. Often, organizations make the mistake of sharing and advancing their stance externally without first doing the work internally with their own employees. And here’s why that’s a problem: if your employees don’t know, believe or live out those values on behalf of your company, then your brand’s efforts won’t be seen as authentic. When laying the internal foundation, remember to conduct an analysis to determine how sophisticated your current multicultural communications program is. Then, decide how to refine, enhance, measure and share your progress against goals you’ve set. If you aren’t meeting those goals, dig into why and be transparent about what you are going to do to right the course. Use our Racial Injustice and Social Inequalities Communications resource to guide efforts at your company.
Watch, listen and identify moments to engage multicultural audiences — and don’t miss the opportunity! Often, brands stall their responses to issues or use their usual one-size-fits-all approach with campaigns because they’re aiming for perfection and are fearful of getting something wrong. But this can be to their detriment. Imperfect progress is better than no action at all. Identify important stakeholders within your organization who will greenlight the multicultural marketing strategy you’ve set to reach these diverse audiences and are bought into making judgment calls on outreach when necessary.
Uphold brand values and communicate with integrity. Some brands that don’t lead with authenticity are quickly seen as disingenuous or performative, taking shortcuts to reach multicultural audiences (ineffectively, we would add). This is why it’s critical to be strategic in your approach to multicultural communications and campaign planning. Get to know your audiences to understand what drives and motivates them, their cultural nuances and how and where to reach them.
- Align communications with your company values.
- Consult experts so your campaigns strike the right chord on cultural nuances.
- Focus on systemic issues when addressing social justice and racial inequity — identify where your brand can help affect change quickly and at scale.
We hope this gets you in the right frame of mind as you plan strategic communications and activate multicultural marketing campaigns. For additional questions or insights, our Jackson Spalding Multicultural Communications Team is here to help — feel free to reach out at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you soon.