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Why multicultural marketing is no longer an afterthought

by | May 4, 2022 | Public Relations

Inclusive marketing is no longer optional. It is a key driver of business success. The brands that are able to have success in cultivating strong and authentic connections with multicultural audiences will be those who commit the time, research, dollars and learnings necessary to create culturally appropriate programs, products, and campaigns.

Let’s start with pure demographics. Recent census data reveals that the United States are more multicultural than ever before with 43 percent of the total US population comprised of people of color in 2020, up from 34 percent in 2010. According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), multicultural consumers are the fastest-growing segment in the United States yet are still consistently left out of the conversation.

Biggest challenges

As the nation continues to diversify, many companies and agencies still have a steep learning curve in figuring out how to cultivate authentic connections with multicultural audiences to remain relevant. Learning how to communicate with diverse audiences is not only challenging, it also requires a deep dive into one’s own beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors. To gain a deeper understanding, brands need to commit to discovering the unique nuances of their varied target audiences to generate appropriate communication.

While the desire to expand and reach diverse audiences is strong, brands may have little to no understanding of the cultures they are attempting to engage. To be effective, multicultural marketing must be inclusive, free of potentially offensive bias, and be respectful of the target audience. Strategies that work in one community can fall flat in another. Even worse, without fluency, they can unintentionally stereotype.

Finding the right agency partner to help bridge the gaps between industries and diverse communities is step one. Our goal at The Vida Agency is to refocus the narrative on those who are conventionally left out of the conversation. We bridge the gaps between industries and community by centering intersections and experiences to communicate effectively, amplify voices and create campaigns of and for the people.

Data-first

It is crucial to incorporate up-front research into your multicultural strategy to listen, learn and eliminate preconceived notions and assumptions. Each stage of research provides an opportunity to better understand and build trust with the communities served.

If you already think you know what an audience needs or wants, without engaging them directly in the process and creating a two-way dialogue, the work is already challenged and may not be successful.

The Vida Agency’s adaptive methodologies and multilingual capabilities deliver culturally relevant data and insights that are foundational in the shaping of authentic, multicultural campaigns that resonate. Whether leveraging qualitative listening and outreach services, or data analysis tools, the goal is to deliver actionable, equitable, localized insight.

Capture meaning, not just words

Nothing can taint the hard work behind a campaign faster than word-for-word translations. One of the most significant mistakes a brand can make is to adopt a cookie-cutter approach by simply translating existing content into a range of different languages. Direct translations are inauthentic, obvious, and convey a lack of deep cultural commitment.

From beginning to end, it is vital to put the native speaker first to assure they have full access to the intended information and there are no roadblocks to understanding your communication. The Vida Agency’s extended transcreation team is made-up of local translators in 20+ languages. Rather than farming out the algorithms, we work with local language professionals with communications backgrounds, who are part of the local community.

Our collaborators take meticulous care to ensure each chosen word conveys the true desired meaning. We often hear that it can take 15-20 minutes to settle on just one word. This commitment makes all the difference. The Vida Agency team and our transcreation collaborators deeply understand the nuances of multicultural communications competence.

Role of community outreach and media relations

Community engagement is, at its core, about building two-way conversations between an entity and members of the public. We no longer live in a world where disseminating information is enough, you will receive feedback publicly and in real-time. It is essential to hear from community members so that you understand their needs and concerns, and then in turn can embed those insights into the campaigns. At The Vida Agency, we have established key community engagement principles that guide us in this work.

The principals that successfully connect projects and campaigns with multicultural media resulting in positive storytelling, are still firmly rooted in the relationship. From regional print to broadcast programming, neighborhood blogs and social influencers, it is vital to cultivate deep collaborations with local multicultural media—the most trusted sources of community news.

The time is now

If you are considering when to start multicultural marketing, the time is now. If you do not commit to learning how to reach multicultural audiences now, your brand will continue to get farther and farther behind. Our team centers all of our work in pursuit of racial, social, and environmental equity for underrepresented and disproportionately impacted communities. We are here to help.

Amalia Martino
When visionary entrepreneur Amalia Martino founded The Vida Agency in 2017, it was clear she was breaking the mold. Rather than conforming to the traditional PR model, she assembled an agile, multilingual team of leaders representing the core disciplines and expertise necessary to transform the way Seattle communicates. No more checking the box, no more tokenizing the underserved, and no more burning team members out before they’ve even realized their potential. She envisioned a boutique creative agency in which every voice is valued, every client achieves strategic and inclusive impact, and every person is intentionally supported on her or his leadership development journey.

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