How To Create Authentic Multicultural Content Marketing


By Lauren B. Mangiaforte (

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States is in for a transformation of diversity over the next 30 years. In that time, 40% of children in the US are projected to be Hispanic, compared to today’s 5%. In the 2010 census, the Asian population grew by 45%. The overall minority population will exceed 50% by 2050. And today? Minorities make up 37% of America’s population, and yet so many brands cling to representations of America that are, well, outdated. This is especially painful to think about when you consider that that 37% accounts for $2 trillion in buying power. Moreover, buying power for these groups has doubled in the last 10 years. Looks like you’d better start diversifying your marketing.

multicultural marketing

Pepsi was one of the first major companies to feature African Americans in their ads in 1943, according to Ad Age, but this trend didn’t really peak until 1963. Even today, despite the growing numbers above, ads and marketing can still seem a little…homogenous.

Multicultural marketing can seem forced at first glance, especially if we cling to a melting-pot mentality. NewsCred’s research, however, shows that this isn’t the case: consumers want to be targeted with specificity down to their age, location, and cultural interests. And that includes non-white people! It makes sense that being marketed to partially on the basis of their language and specific subculture would also ingratiate many consumers to a brand they hadn’t previously considered. The key to doing multicultural marketing in a way that adds value is to understand what distinct values or cultural preferences (language, dress, music, important calendar events, the list goes on) offer special opportunities to connect.

Here’s how to do multicultural marketing, or do it better.

1. Get specific with your audience segments within a specific ethnicity.

One of the less-intelligent things you can do as a content marketer is to have only a top-level understanding of your audience. Consumers want content that speaks directly to them (even more so among millennials, 63% of who want your content tailored to their cultural interests, and 55% of whom want it tailored to location) and they’re not going to pay attention if you’re not speaking directly to them. The same is true of multicultural audiences. Don’t just say you want Hispanics, say you want Hispanics 19-25 who live in the suburbs of Chicago who watch Rap Battle on YouTube and love the Cubs.

multicultural mrketing

CJ Walker, courtesy of NewsOne

Probably the first instance of multicultural marketing came around the turn of the 20th century, when the legendary businesswoman CJ Walker (incidentally, the first self-made American female millionaire, and an African American born to former slaves) developed and successfully marketed a line of hair and beauty products made just for women like her. While 11% of the US was African American in 1900 (compared to today’s 13%), their purchasing power compared to their counterparts today was miniscule. And yet, Ms. Walker became a millionaire because she understood how to create product for, and market it to, a specific audience segment. This speaks to the power of specificity when doing multicultural content marketing.

Today’s marketers can judge the value of their multicultural marketing by the skill with which they speak to their audiences. Ask questions like what problems can our product solve for a specific group? How can we address them in a way that makes sense to them? How can we show that we genuinely understand and want to connect?

2. Consider, and then reconsider, your platforms.

While audiences of all cultural backgrounds use social media similarly, there are some major differences when you get down to the platform level. For example, according to PewAfrican Americans use Twitter more than their peers, with 28% using the platform. Compare that to the 12% of white internet users who do, and the 14% of Hispanic users that do, and it’s clear you want to make sure you’re representing an inclusive voice and images on that platform.

multicultural marketing

Instagram is used by 53% of adults aged 18 to 29 online. 34% of Hispanic users in that category use it, and 38% of African Americans do, whereas whites only account for 21%. Facebook use is pretty even across the board, with African Americans interacting 5% less than other groups on average. Pinterest marks the largest gap: 31% of online white adults are using the platform, compared with 21% of Hispanics and 12% of African Americans. These are some pretty big differences, and ones that smart content marketing companies can use to their advantage when targeting content more effectively.

Also, don’t overlook mobile! According to Multicultural Marketing Resources, Hispanic and African American internet users are more likely to access the internet using mobile than their white counterparts – a difference of 76%/73% to 60%. That’s a large enough gap to direct your efforts to closing it. This is also true for social media content marketing, where there is a similar split between these groups.

3. Ask yourself if the images you’re choosing are authentic.

Cheerios’ 2014 Super Bowl commercial, “Good for Your Heart,” showed a interracial couple hanging out in their home. It was well-received as a commercial (with an Ace Metrix likeability score of 706 where the average is 638) as well as on social media. This piece of multicultural video content did a lot of things right. It represented a traditionally underrepresented group (in this case, interracial families) in a normal context. According to US Census data from 2010, one in 10 (5.4 million) heterosexual couples are interracial. Cheerios, in other words, refused to default to the cast and setting of “white family, Sunday morning” that has been the norm for cereal commercials since the beginning of TV. The payoff was huge in terms of authenticity, brand affinity, and content shares. Also, that little girl is freakin’ adorable.

Another recent example of great multicultural marketing came from Coke. In 2014, their Super Bowl entry featured Americans singing “America the Beautiful” in seven languages (AND a family with two dads). While the campaign received some ignorant backlash, the ad’s power also received accolades. This is an example of content marketing not only doing its best to reach multiple audiences – but also to be a positive force for change. (Learn more about choosing authentic images in our Visual Storytelling Guide)

4. Choose your words and languages wisely.

Language can be an important differentiator. If you’re speaking Spanish to the right audience, it can definitely differentiate you from your competition. 80% of Hispanics speak Spanish with their families, with 58% preferring to speak it over English. If you’re thinking this multicultural marketing thing is only about simply translating one main message into a couple of different languages, you’re obviously missing the point. It’s about more than the words being in Spanish or Hmong or German, it’s about conveying your message in the right tone of voice to connect with those audiences.

A translator is not the place to skimp on budget. You don’t just need someone to turn A into B, you need someone who understands idiosyncracies of tone, idiom, cultural symbols, and values. One pseudo-disastrous translation story? When The Dairy Association’s wildly popular “Got Milk?” campaign was simply translated into Spanish, it was discovered that the direct translation actually meant “Are you lactating?” Not exactly a marketing win. Now, imagine that mistake in the age of Twitter. With a retranslation to “Toma Leche,” the campaign got back on track.

Multicultural content marketing allows you to connect more deeply with key groups of consumers who are likely underserved by your competitors. It’s also a great exercise for your team to think creatively and shake the dust off their research skills. One last benefit to consider: once multicultural marketing is in your brand’s DNA, it’s a great gateway for global thinking that can propel you and your content further into the 21st century.


Categories: NGL News