Marketers and market researchers working in the multicultural and cross-cultural space have long known the shortcomings of utilizing acculturation models for segmentation. Our conflicted national identity and increasing demographic diversity have created a cultural Rubik’s cube that resists classification. I’ve written on this topic several times and have proposed alternative segmentation tools but there has never been a viable replacement for the acculturation model so it has persisted, until now.
Introducing the Bidimensional Identity Measure (BIM), a tool born out of Mitú’s first empirical study, “A New Scale to Measure Multigroup Ethnic and American Identity in the U.S.,” conducted in partnership with us. The study proposes that multigroup identity must be measured bidimensionally to account for the collective identity of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multicultural US consumer. The BIM model is comprised of two subscales: the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM-R) and American Identity Measure (AIM) which simultaneously measure one’s ethnic and American identity to help corporations understand the multidimensionality of the U.S. population.
Older, linear models assumed that individuals moved along a cultural continuum with clearly defined start and end points. It’s possible, however, for Hispanics to identify as more “American” than non-Hispanic whites and for wealthy Whites and Asians to have more in common with each other than with their ethnic cohorts. The BIM model measures these differences and commonalities and creates more meaningful groupings that go beyond the typical ethnic/cultural identifications.
The value of measuring identity through the BIM is three-fold:
As we move away from mass marketing towards greater targeting of individuals, consumers are coming to expect more personalized messaging that capture more than cultural identification. Years lived in the U.S. no longer align with cultural affinity as the underlying ethnic and American cultures evolve. The BIM results suggest that despite different ethnic and racial groups living in one country with similarities across several dimensions, differences in identity are significant across groups, and warrant further attention by corporations.
Multicultural is now the mainstream and tuning marketing messages to resonate within this new cultural landscape is a corporate and brand imperative. Companies looking to grow while navigating the U.S. multicultural population now have a tool to investigate these fundamental differences in addition to the similarities across ethnic groups. Hopefully, they will use these deeper insights to create messaging that accurately reflects how multicultural consumers see themselves, how they want to be seen by others and celebrates their position within the new American mainstream.