10 Takeaways From The ANA Multicultural Marketing Conference


These are just a few of the important insights shared by presenters.  They are not in order of importance. They are equally important.

1. Multicultural consumers lead the way in effective years of buying power.  Translation: because the median age of multicultural consumers is younger, they have more years to buy stuff.

2. The veil of the Total Market charade has been pierced. Marc Pritchard, in his powerful presentation, outlined the four myths driving marketing to communities of color today:

  • Multicultural marketing is the job of a separate, specialized group or person
  • Our brand’s general advertising campaign is broadly appealing to every ethnic group
  • We’ll reach them anyway with our general market media buy.
  •  Our agencies know how to market to multicultural consumers

P&G’s antidote to reclaim their consumers and their business: doubling down on targeted media and the agencies that specialize in multicultural consumers.

3. It’s not either/or. It’s and; The success is in the “and”. “Better serving our multicultural customers, better serves all of our customers.” Tony Rogers, SVP Chief Marketing Officer of Fortune #1 company Walmart. All of Walmart’s growth is coming from multicultural consumers. Tony Rogers also suggested that it’s not about the total market, but understanding and leveraging what he calls cultural fluency.

4. The path forward to intentionally creating a diverse workforce and inclusive environment, the client and agency have to be all in.

Roger Adams, CMO USAA & Renetta McCannChief Talent Officer, Leo Burnettexcellently presented their real-time case study outlining the 4-point comprehensive approach of education, recruitment, on-boarding, growth & retention and celebration. They also shared the outstanding YTD results of their efforts and are now entering the retention phase.

It was a critical business imperative for USAA because at least 1/3 of their customer base, which are members of the US military, is multicultural. The necessity of building diverse agency teams and an inclusive environment was also echoed by Tony RogersCMO of Walmart and Diego Scotti, EVP & CMO Verizon.

Offering the excuse “we couldn’t find anyone” is unacceptable today. (Actually, it’s quite lame for a host of reasons.)

5. Companies that are risk averse are leaving tomorrow’s profit on the table.   Stan Little, SVP SunTrust Bank shared the perspective of a conservative company in a highly regulated industry recognizing and embracing the business opportunity among multicultural consumers and communities. Sun Trust’s most profitable clientele are middle aged white men who are now retiring and drawing on the assets they were once depositing.  SunTrust’s aha! moment: recognizing that consumers of color are the key to the bank’s future profitability.

There is an urgent need to “commit to multicultural communities by aligning relevant business engagement; activate 3 distinct and important entry points: Where consumers Live, Work and play. But first commit to “Do No Harm”. Do well by doing good.

6. Through whose eyes are you viewing the world? Change your rule book. Take the time and make the commitment to understand your customer’s world. Surround yourself with people of different points of view, different cultural experiences and lifestyles. Great common-sense advice from both Manoj RaghunandananJ&J VP Marketing of US OTC and Philip PolkVP of Multicultural Strategies at Hallmark.  

7.  African American millennials set the trends of pop culture, but they are not as mainstream as data suggests. Pepper Miller, of the Hunter-Miller Group, multicultural market research expert in her presentation “Hiding in Plain Sight”, informed the audience of marketers and agencies of this important distinction. Also, marketers need to get permission before appropriating this consumer’s culture and influence. As Stan Little of SunTrust would comment two days later in his presentation, “you better ask somebody”.

8. Music is key for connecting with multicultural consumers. It is not uncommon for Black and Latino audiences to identify an artist and create the surge that eventually catapults them to trend worthy hash tags and mainstream popularity. Nidia Serrano, Senior Manager of Pandora highlighted this for the pre-conference audience.

9. The Total Market approach to advertising and marketing has been “misinterpreted and misunderstood”. It was also noted that it had a high propensity for failure.  That revelation was shared by marketers at Clorox and Coca Cola. They have intentionally been left anonymous.

10. The industry seems to still have difficulty grasping that multicultural consumer segments include Asian, African American and Latino. All three of these segments represent the margin of difference to a brand’s future viability and profitability.

It was particularly interesting to hear clients call for diverse staffing at agencies. That has certainly been a long time coming. It remains to be seen whether agencies heed the seriousness of this or if there will be any consequences if they don’t.

There was also a recurring complaint that there were no metrics or ability to measure success among multicultural consumers. Big data cannot help here. The power and opportunity in multicultural segments is in the nuances and cultural experiences, the very data points big data anonymizes. However, with the exception of the Asian consumer segment, there is quite a bit of data on what multicultural consumers watch and buy. At the end of the day, you have to know who is purchasing and using your products and services. If you don’t, consider that you may need to get hyper-local and meet your customers where they work, live and play in order to better understand and service them.


Originally published on LinkedIn November 17, 2017

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.