Imagine you're a CMO from a giant U.S. Corporation, and on August 12th, you received a message from your boss. She just got two questions from one of the company's board director: Have you seen the latest Census data? And most importantly, are we ready to compete in this new diverse marketplace?
Ideally, our CMO wouldn't have much problem answering the questions. Still, the reality is that many CMOs in America wouldn't be able to articulate their strategies towards a more multicultural consumer.
Some may refer to their DE&I efforts; some others may repeat the failed theory that "one strong message should unify all of us." However, none of this will be enough to keep brands relevant for years and decades to come, and for some brands, if you were not ready to compete when the 2020 Census results were released, your brand may become irrelevant by the time the 2030 Census comes around.
Just as an example, according to Univision, a leading Spanish language communications conglomerate, approximately 1,500 brands that regularly advertise in English completely ignore advertising in Spanish to connect to the significant share of the Hispanic population that consume culturally relevant content in Spanish.
Back in October/2019, I wrote this article here on Forbes discussing what to expect from the 2020 Census, using the 2010-2018 American Community Survey (ACS) results as a parameter. Now it's a good time to revisit the key predictions of the article and compare them to the data reported a few weeks ago.
Prediction # 1 - Non-Minority Population Growth Was Close to Zero
Results - The results demonstrated that non-minority population growth was negative, with the Non-Hispanic White population decreasing by 5.1 million or 2.6%.
Prediction # 2 - Multicultural Population Growth Is Exploding
Results – The country's population growth was 100% dependent on diverse segments. The Hispanic segment reached almost 19% of the country's population, with 62 million people, nearly 50% larger than the Black consumer segment, with 47 million at 12% of the population. The AAPI population continues its fast growth trajectory, reaching 24 million people with 6% of the population.
Prediction # 3 - Multicultural Consumers Are Everywhere
Results - While the diverse population growth was more concentrated in urban areas and the West and the South regions, almost every county experienced an increase in its non-Hispanic White population.
The Hispanic population grew 148% in North Dakota in the past decade, 68% in Louisiana, 62% in New Hampshire, 57% in Kentucky! While in the 70s-90's marketers could replace a national multicultural marketing strategy with a regional one, now marketers should focus on national multicultural approaches supplemented by regional heavy-ups.
Prediction # 4 - Minority-Majority Is Becoming a Reality
Results - Approximately 53% of the 18 years old population and younger of the whole country is from a non-Hispanic white ethnicity. Furthermore, six states (California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia already have a minority-majority status.
The article's predictions were on target, and ideally, no one should be surprised with any of this. All data about the growth of diverse segments has been public and available and most importantly, what we are witnessing is a trend that has been building up for decades.
So, if you are a marketer and feel you're a bit out of touch with the minority-majority transformation of the country, here are a few actions you can implement in the next 30-60 days to start your journey towards a better understanding of multicultural marketing opportunities:
1 - Reach Out:
Start implementing a process to listen to your diverse employees, existing customers, and past customers, focusing on how their experience and perspective are similar or different from your own, from your average Non-Hispanic White employee or consumer. Ask questions, ask what they would do differently.
But don't stop there. Put together an advisory council with subject matter experts to help your organization on its journey towards more equitable and intentional multicultural investments.
2 - Learn:
Develop a learning plan, starting with data, insights, and information gaps your organization may have and committing to a multi-year plan (and to resources) to close this gap. Effective multicultural marketing is managing based on high-quality data and insights.
3 - Integrate:
Make your multicultural marketing goals a company-wide effort, integrating them with your DE&I plans, your R&D processes, your sales and distribution strategies, your community outreach. Ideally, multicultural marketing should "reside" in your marketing team, but the whole corporation should own it.
4 – Find a Champion:
Several multicultural marketing programs fail for lack of a champion that can protect it in its infancy and support it as it grows. A CMO can be a great champion; I had a few great CMOs helping me when I led multicultural marketing in the past.
But ideally, the search for a champion could go even higher in the organization, ideally to the CEO level. Make it a clear goal to all to see and share the program's status in every update meeting, every town hall. Ultimately, the organization will understand that if multicultural marketing is a priority for our bosses, it should be a priority for most employees.
It's time to move from a discussion about multicultural marketing towards action, and this action should be backed up with resources and consistency. The cost of doing nothing grows every single day, and it may reach a tipping point soon. If marketers don't act decisively and adequately, that may risk an important, and for many, the only source of significant growth they will have in years to come.