In the face of a New American mainstream, companies are finally seeing the lack of diversity as a huge liability when it comes to connecting with consumers. With 89% of advertising agencies being non-Hispanic White, big brands like Verizon, HP, Inc. and General Mills recently have put pressure on their agencies to hire more women and minorities. While AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing applauds diversity as a strategic business imperative, diversity alone will not solve any marketing woes — what brands and agencies need are diverse specialists.
A more diverse workforce does not guarantee expertise in a particular space. It certainly is a step in the right direction to have more inclusive hiring practices, but more important is ensuring there’s a process for getting to diverse set of ideas. That’s why you need a specialist, you need a champion, and you need the right executive at the right level to navigate both internal and external strategies.
Specialists are very much valued in several aspects of our society — doctors, financial experts, engineers, to name a few. The same should be applied when it comes to new mainstream and multicultural marketing. It’s not about simply hiring African Americans, Hispanics and women, it’s about hiring strong African American, Hispanic and female marketing specialists. Moreover, specialists, especially those at a senior level, serve as strategic linchpins to further grow a brand's penetration among certain sectors of the marketplace.
The Hispanic consumer, for example, has never been more valuable, deeply influencing the mainstream trends. That’s why getting it right is even more critical and that means understanding the actionable consumer insights that drive ROI. More than ever, these diverse Hispanic segments — from the bilingual/bicultural to the acculturated — still require specialized strategies integrated into the entire marketing funnel in order to gain their awareness, engagement, and affinity.
Many multicultural Hispanic or crossover agencies understand the nuances across two cultures to drive greater consumer relevance and appeal and, worst-case scenario, can better mitigate a brand's faux pas during a crisis situation. That’s why the creation of the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is a nod in the right direction because it brings together top multicultural and diverse-segment specialists to provide a powerful, unified voice for the advancement of multicultural marketing.
The Power of AND
Expertise with the right partners at the table is just part of the puzzle, but brands must approach their consumer segments in the right way with the right approach. That’s where the “Power of AND” comes into play. True market penetration and relevance comes from both a new mainstream market lens AND a segment lens – that is what a true Total Market strategy requires: both a culturally nuanced mainstream campaign AND integrated, yet relevant, segment campaigns.
Recent articles have heralded the failure of Total Market, but the reality is brands have misused it as a cost-cutting approach. Inclusive campaigns are merely the basic minimum brands can do to reflect the new mainstream but it falls short of addressing the total opportunity. Without dedicated segment approaches working in synergy with mainstream work, business growth falls flat.
AHAA, along with the ANA, developed the following three guidelines:
1. Total Market efforts need to be comprised of a diverse American Mainstream PLUS demographic, cultural and language segments.
2. Total Market insights need to be embedded throughout the marketing process.
3. Reaching the New Mainstream requires both a culturally nuanced mainstream campaign AND integrated yet relevant segment campaigns.
There are no short cuts to getting great work that moves the sales needle. Diversity in the marketing workforce is certainly a great start, but brands must have the right senior-level specialists at the table – whether internally and/or among their partner agencies. These are the specialists that have the expertise to ensure Total Market campaigns are done right — by successfully harnessing the “Power of AND” — and can ultimately achieve the gold standard for your campaign.