February 09, 2021

By Lee Vann

The vibrant multicultural imagery and prose radiating from the recent presidential inauguration sent a clear message - the U.S. is undeniably multicultural and the new administration has gone all-in on multiculturalism.  

Inauguration Highlights

  •   The first female, African and South Asian American Vice President, sworn in by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, applauded by the nation's first African American President and First Lady.
  •   Puerto Rican Jennifer Lopez performed a medley of iconic American Songs “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful” and then reciting, in Spanish, a verse from the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance “Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos” - “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."  She closed emphatically with her iconic lyric “Let’s get loud”.
  •   President Biden committed his soul and challenged all Americans to embrace unity and equality in his inaugural address. “The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. We can deliver racial justice.We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division.
  •   African American youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reciting her goosebump-producing The Hill We Climb - “We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.”

Despite the euphoria I felt as I took in the beautiful multiculturalism of the inauguration, as someone who has dedicated my entire career to multicultural marketing, a question kept nagging at me.  

Will Corporate America Finally Inaugurate Multicultural Marketing?

This question nagged at me because on the one hand, I witnessed an entire U.S. presidential transition team embrace multiculturalism. Not only did the incoming administration celebrate our multicultural nation at the inauguration, they are putting their money where their mouth is by forming the most diverse cabinet ever, reversing a previous executive order to restrict diversity training, and signing executive orders to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities with more to come.  

On the other hand, despite a handful of positive multicultural initiatives by some companies sparked by the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements, Corporate America has neglected multiculturalism and multicultural marketing for too long.  

A report by the Association of National Advertisers Alliance for Inclusion and Multicultural Marketing “The Case for Change” goes beyond imagery and prose and aggregates overwhelming, hard data that clearly illustrates that investing in multicultural marketing is good business. 

Here’s why:

Changing Demographics in the United States

  •     Multicultural segments, which include all ethnic segments except White Non-Hispanics, make up 40 percent of the U.S. population
  •     The White Non-Hispanic population declined by 55,000 in 2016 and is expected to continue this descending pattern. Meanwhile, the Multicultural population is projected to increase by 2.3 million each year before becoming a numeric majority in just 25 years
  •     Simply put, diversity is increasing rapidly with each generation. Nielsen revealed that of the 75 million millennials in America, 42% of them are Multicultural. The percentage is even higher for Generation Z.
  •     Multicultural consumers are younger and have a higher life expectancy, living longer than their White Non-Hispanic counterparts. As a result, their lifetime value as consumers is higher than their White Non-Hispanic counterparts.

Segment Buying Power is Booming

  •     In 2018 U.S. Hispanic buying power surpassed $1.5 trillion, African American $1.2 trillion, and Asian American $1 trillion.
  •     The two fastest U.S. buying power growth segments are Hispanic, which is growing almost twice as fast as White Non-Hispanic, and Asian, growing 2.2 times faster than White Non-Hispanic.
  •     100% of the growth in compact cars, minivans, and midsize SUVs came from African-American consumers.
  •     100% of the U.S. growth in personal student loans and 61% of new investors in stock came from Asian American consumers.
  •     93% of the U.S. growth in home improvement, 76% of the growth in small business, 73% of the growth in smartphones bought, and 79% of luxury car purchase growth came from Hispanic consumers.
  •     Hispanics over-index on food and groceries, clothing, auto insurance, and wireless services. African-Americans over-index on shoe purchases and wireless services. Asians over-index on dining out, public transportation use, housing, and education.
  • Smart Multicultural Marketing Works
  •     A study conducted by the Culture Marketing Council found that, “on average, a five-point shift in allocation from English media to Hispanic media would generate incremental growth rates of 3.3 to 8.9 points per year in CPG, financial and insurance, and automotive sector companies.
  •     The ANA’s AIMM Cultural Insights Impact Measure found that consumers who perceive ads as “culturally relevant” are 2.6 times more likely to find the brand relevant to them, and are 2.7 times more likely to purchase a brand for the first time. Additionally, they are 50% more likely to repurchase a brand they have bought in the past.

Despite the preponderance of hard data, Corporate America’s neglect of diversity and multicultural marketing is crystal clear. This neglect is staggering when looking at the diverse representation within Corporate America and the severe underinvestment in multicultural marketing.

According to CNBC, “Corporate America has long been criticized for its lack of gender and racial diversity, with underrepresented racial groups making up just 12.5% of board seats at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies, and women making up just 21%.”  A 2020 report by ANA AIMM found that 88% of ANA member company CMO’s are white while only 5% are Asian American, 4% are Hispanic and 3% are Black. The same report shows the lack of diversity among ANA member company marketing teams where only 29% are multicultural vs. 71% white.

When it comes to investment in multicultural marketing, the numbers are just as woeful. Corporate America is significantly underinvesting in multicultural marketing. The ANA AIMM found that Multicultural Media revenue – meaning advertising and brand activation revenues (for both above- and below-the-line media) – significantly under-indexes the general population. Multicultural consumers now comprise almost 40% of the total population, yet Multicultural Media investments comprise only 5.2% of total advertising and marketing revenues.

If an entire U.S. presidential team can celebrate the rich multiculturalism of the U.S. and within days take real action to support our minority communities, why hasn’t Corporate America inaugurated multicultural marketing?

The answer to that question is the topic for another post, but what matters right now is action.  Not only does the data clearly illustrate that multicultural marketing is good business, but a pandemic and long-term systemic racial inequality have disproportionately impacted multicultural communities.  If this is not a catalyst for Corporate America to finally inaugurate multicultural marketing, I don’t know what is.

I for one will not stand idly by -  I will continue to put my soul into working to help make sure multicultural communities are represented within Corporate America, are communicated to in a way they understand, and get the support they need and deserve - all while driving growth for companies and brands who choose this journey - this is a true win-win.

I challenge you to join the cause, because success “depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us”.  I challenge you to “rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.”

I challenge you to raise your voice, active your networks and take action to ensure that Corporate America will finally inaugurate multicultural marketing.

Let’s Get Loud.

 

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