Why do many marketers make a start in multicultural marketing - entering the field with great enthusiasm and ambition - only to fall back out when the next round of budgets is set. Bill Coristine, VP Strategic Planning, looks at some of the reasons why.
- Marketers don’t fully appreciate the rewards. They may be aware of demographic trends, but not of the accompanying socio-economic value of new Canadians as customers. They don’t stop to add up the depth and value of the services and consumer products required by new immigrant families. Simple database analytics – profiling existing ethnic customers - will demonstrate their value in spades. More on this in a future article.
- Risk aversion – afraid of taking chances on something new. The fact is that the same overall marketing and advertising approaches apply to both consumer markets; mainstream and multicultural. Yes, there are differences in the strategic and tactical elements deployed to reach new Canadian consumers. But this is no different than varying approaches used with different mainstream segments; women, seniors, etc. When marketers fear what they don’t know, concerned that they have too much to lose by trying something new, it is too easy to avoid the challenge altogether.
- They don’t build a proper business case. On the other hand, marketers will too often jump in blindly. With unrealistic expectations; especially over the short term. It is important to take time to understand the market, carry out market research and carefully craft long term strategies. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are brands, regardless of the audience.
- Marketers don’t hire the right people or devote resources to multicultural marketing. The average lifespan of a chief marketing officer in today’s corporate arena is about two years. And even more mid-level marketing executives don’t stick around long enough to execute more than a few marketing campaigns. Learning is lost. And often a champion is lost. As well, corporate executives often have difficulty finding experienced talent to help them deal with the unique requirements of multicultural markets. And they aren’t always willing to rely more heavily on outside resources such as sector devoted agencies or consultants
- They pass the responsibility for developing the marketing programs on to someone too junior... Someone at too junior a level of experience, not only in multicultural marketing, but in general. And without the confidence or know-how required to do things differently, to work collaboratively with more knowledgeable outside suppliers.
- Marketers use the same measurement tools to evaluate the market. Marketers are often so set in their ways they don’t recognize that the results of their marketing efforts can’t always be measured using conventional measurement techniques. Ethnic print and broadcast media are unaudited. Multicultural populations are usually underrepresented in syndicated market and media research. But increasingly, m/c research panels, dedicated syndicated research studies and customer database profiling and tracking are being used to help fill the void.
They believe that the cost of market entry is cost-prohibitive.
But carrying out a cost analysis against their mass market programs would clearly show that multicultural marketing comes with considerable cost efficiencies. Due to the still-underdeveloped nature of the category there are still significant cost savings to be found in market research, creative execution, pre-and post-production, and media expenses. Specialized agencies can bring real project over project savings. And the ultimate value of a new multicultural customer – who is a more loyal and profitable customer – cannot be underestimated.
- They believe that simply translating existing marketing and advertising programs will do the trick. They don’t appreciate how unique cultural nuances have a significant influence on how brands are evaluated, and purchases are made. They believe it is enough to add an ethnic face, translate a mainstream campaign and use cliché ridden imagery. Successful marketing strategies leverage key consumer insights, build culturally relevant value propositions around them, and execute respectfully. In the interest of supposed efficiencies, and because the responsibility is handed to staff with too many other major priorities, it is all too easy to fall into the translation trap.
- Are unable to make a long term commitment. Often because there isn’t a champion at a senior enough level. Multicultural programs are frequently looked on as short term tests. “Let’s see what it can do for us.” But it takes time to build a brand, to establish profitable relationships. Look around at the number of marketers who have been into this marketplace with full-fledged, committed programs over many years now. They must know something. Most importantly they have learned first-hand, exactly what that market research tells us - the multicultural consumer is an extremely loyal and profitable customer.
We are going to explore some of these challenges in greater depth in the future. Stay tuned.