Multicultural marketing secret #2.


The second critical factor when attempting to engage a multicultural audience is language.
Seems obvious, doesn't it? But wait, here's the secret.


Before you can get under someone’s skin you’ve got to live in their skin.
In other words, understand their psychographics.
Get on the same bandwidth.

This approach requires open-mindedness, an appetite for cultural nuance and subtlety, a love of challenge. But it can be done.
To borrow the words of the great Hollies song, he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

Much is made of the cultural differences between various ethnic groups in Canada. Chinese market experts tout their expertise in reaching their fellow immigrants. South Asian market experts flaunt theirs.

Meanwhile, south of the 44th parallel, the Hispanic population has outstripped the African American population. Though one might think this would establish the position of Hispanics in the mainstream, advertising agencies and marketers are spending vast amounts of time and brainpower to say that only a Hispanic agency can produce messaging that will connect with this powerful new audience effectively. It’s an old idea. It’s a well-used idea. It’s an idea whose time has gone.

There is one way to reach a minority audience. To connect, to engage, to be significant, one has to understand what it feels like to be that minority.

“Ich bin ein Berliner” said JFK (unfortunately claiming kinship with a sausage in the process – but we know what he meant).
“I am a Berliner. I am one of you. I too live with the Wall. I feel your pain at being separated from your countrymen.”
The brilliance of the line, of the sentiment, was not one of timing important as it was. Its brilliance lies in empathy.

You aren't heavy if you're my brother.

The door to the mind of a Chinese housewife in Mongkok, Hong Kong or in Agincourt, in the GTA is the same.
And it takes the same key to open it.
That very key also opens the door into the mind of a Tamil accountant in Matunga, Mumbai or in Cedarbrae, Scarborough.

That key is openness. Openness is all. So, marketers, are you?
No habla multiculturalese? You're screwed.

copyright 2007 Gavin Barrett All rights reserved

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