How to Do Multicultural Marketing Right

Do these comments sound familiar? “We could feature an African American family in this maternity ad.” “Let’s get these service line brochures translated into Spanish.” “How can we speak to our Asian American community?”

Just a few years ago, comments like these typically were the extent of the conversations hospital marketers were having about multicultural marketing. But simply including images of diverse families in your banner ads and offering translated collateral is no longer enough. Cultural differences are about more than skin color and language. They’re about perceptions, beliefs, customs and more.  

Group of cheerful diverse friends in the park

What Is Multicultural Marketing?

Multicultural marketing is the practice of marketing to specific ethnic groups beyond the majority demographic in your service area. So if non-Hispanic, non-Latino whites make up the majority of your audience, multicultural marketing might target Hispanic and Latino whites, blacks, Asian Americans and American Indians. If your service area is mostly black, then other groups will be the focus of your multicultural marketing efforts.

True multicultural marketing recognizes and understands different cultures and ethnicities. It develops messaging and content that specifically resonates with members of these groups.

How to Build a Successful Multicultural Marketing Campaign

The only thing worse than ignoring minority groups in your marketing is offending them. Multicultural marketing takes research, understanding, and testing. It cannot be thrown together last minute.

A multicultural marketing campaign should be built from the ground up. Each audience should be studied and a plan created. Sometimes the key messaging will be the same across your audiences; many times it will be different, even if only slightly.

Multicultural Marketing Made Easy

The best way to ensure your multicultural marketing campaigns hit the mark is to assemble a diverse team that’s reflective of your audience. It will take a lot of effort for an all-white marketing department to understand the black perspective. Having marketers on your team who are members of minority groups can help you relate. This doesn’t mean that one, two or a handful of people can speak for a whole community, but it will make you sensitive to the issue.

If diversity hiring isn’t an option, consider outsourcing multicultural campaigns to a firm that has the expertise you need. If that’s not possible either, you’ll need to conduct copious testing with each community before going live with any multicultural campaign.

Multicultural Considerations to Get You Started

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our country’s population is made up of the following groups:

  • White, not Hispanic or Latino: 60.7%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 18.1%
  • Black: 13.4%
  • Asian: 5.8%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 1.3%
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: .2%
Asian ethnicity family with two children having fun at home

Here are some key considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you get started on your own multicultural marketing campaign:

Black consumers want to see your support. Nearly 41 percent of African Americans over the age of 35 surveyed said they expect the brands support to also support social causes that are important to them, according to Nielsen. This is 15 percent higher than the ranking by the total population.

Mobile marketing is essential among Hispanic audiences. Everyone has a smartphone, but U.S. Hispanics use theirs for internet connectivity more than any other group. An eMarketer report found Hispanics access the internet on their smartphones an average of 10.5 hours per week. The average across all groups was 8.4 hours.

Marketing to “Asian Americans” isn’t enough. Sure, all ethnic groups are comprised of varied origins. But none like Asian Americans. The term actually applies to descendants from a whopping 20 different countries, according to the Pew Research Center. And they all have their own cultural preferences and sensitivities. Don’t make the mistake of lumping Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, Filipino Americans and others into one category.