Reaching multicultural consumers

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When targeting Hispanic-, African- or Asian-American audiences, media must resonate and be culturally relevant. Ethnic segments have their media of choice. How do you ensure multicultural sensitivity on a media buy?

Joi Tyrrell
Multicultural and Diversity Director—East,
Carat USA

There is no question that we all need to be mindful of the “browning of America,” and the higher incidence of certain diseases within multicultural populations. While research shows some multicultural population segments are promiscuous general market media consumers, it certainly does not mean that a general market media buy is targeting multicultural consumers. American Idol delivers solid multicultural numbers, but it's not targeted. For me, it equates to shouting across a crowded room. Having an in-house multiculturalist means that an agency has recognized that these emerging markets require analysis through a different lens—a relevancy lens. The good news is there are highly credible, culturally connected media platforms within the Hispanic- and African-American landscape that can provide powerful partnership in this outreach, but it will take a specialized eye to find them.

Sheila Thorne
President and CEO,
Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group

According to US Census projections, by the middle of this century one out of two Americans will be a person of color or a person of color who speaks Spanish. Together, Hispanics/Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian- Americans already make up a majority of the population of major US states. Buying power of multi-ethnic segments has nearly doubled in the last decade. And, surprising to many, 60%-85% of these groups have health insurance. It is a strategic marketing imperative to move beyond “cultural sensitivity” to “cultural competency” on a media buy. Do your homework. One, determine whether the media outlet is culturally and linguistically appropriate. Two, select the media outlet that is trusted by the ethnic segment. Three, make a cultural connection between your message and the medium.

Rodd Rodriguez
The Rodd Group

Many healthcare stakeholders barely pursue multi-segment strategies to drive purchase/ROI and cultivate relationships with Hispanic-, African-, and Asian-American populations and their caregivers. Yet these consumers are at higher risk for many diseases. Hispanic-Americans spent about $14 billion on Rx drugs in 2003, but pharma devoted only 0.9% of its '03 ad budgets to Spanish media. Those budgets stayed on autopilot '04-'06. In more than 20 years in multicultural advertising, the biggest barrier has been addressing health literacy, particularly translating core messages while adhering to FDA rules. Proven cultural insights into multicultural health behavior exist, and media can be targeted and measured, including new media. Community-based grassroots efforts supporting minority communication in organizations are also needed to generate credibility, trust and sales.

Ken Cervantes
VP, activation director
MediaVest 42 Degrees

You have to understand today's consumer. The general market is no longer a homogenous population—it's a diverse audience with different preferences.  As a result, holistic media plans must be developed to reach the total consumer target.  Ethnic media plans can't be an afterthought, nor can they be developed in a silo. They must be intertwined with all plans in order to reach all consumers. For example, if a marketer wants to reach moms, media strategies should be developed by identifying the common element that all moms share, regardless of ethnicity. Within the larger media plan, specific tactics can be added to address any demographic media preferences by ethnic segment, like more Spanish-language TV for Hispanics or targeted print for African-American moms.

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