Countless ethnic and racial groups go unnoticed despite the growth of an increasingly diverse society. Marketers cater to the supposed majority, ignoring cultural differences to garner the greatest returns possible. For many, this inability to expand such outreach derives itself from an insurmountable lack of CMO support. But, as engagement methods continue to multiply, allowing marketers to target consumers as both groups and individuals, executive buy-in may soon be the only missing link between marketers and millions on untapped prospects."Versioning of creative, narrowcasting content and personalizing experiences are all within reach of marketers today," says Cesar Melgoza, founder and CEO of Geoscape. "In many ways, possibility is ahead of practice. The data and channels of communications are abundant, yet execution continues to lag behind possibility. This is especially true when we talk about communicating 'in-culture'--the data are available to support the execution, yet too many marketers are not taking advantage of this."
Here, we speak with Melgoza to explore why so many CMOs fail to support multicultural marketing initiatives and how marketers can actively gain executive buy-in:
1to1 Media: Why do so few CMOs fully support multicultural marketing initiatives? Which priorities take top billing? How will this ignorance harm the brand in the long term?
Cesar Melgoza: There are several reasons, based on my experience. The least excusable is that CMOs fail to look at the long-term opportunity for growth of their brands. That is, if they simply looked at the trajectory of their business into the next five plus years, they would normally see that the majority of their growth potential will come from Hispanic and Asian segments, which represent the bulk of the spending and population growth. The "competing priorities" excuse will not get too far in a discussion with his or her board of directors when targeting flat growth segments at the expense of steep growth consumers--especially when the board is focused on market capitalization and stock value appreciation, which is largely based on revenue, profit-share, and market share forecasts.
1to1: What are some key trends or statistics that demonstrate the growing power of the multicultural population? Why should CMOs wake up and pay attention?
CM: If you look at lifetime value of consumers and measure it across the remaining lifespan of consumer segments, you will find that, on average, Hispanic and Asian households will spend about $310k and $800k, respectively, more than white non-Hispanic households. Any investment in marketing is not just for today, but also towards the remainder of a consumer's lifetime. This simple fact will make a big difference in how chief marketing and operation officers allocate budget.
1to1: How can marketers use these trends and statistics to gain buy-in from the CMO? What steps must they take to formulate an effective action plan?
CM: The CMO shouldn't need to be convinced. But if they still do, they simply need to look at growth potential for their brands. Multicultural marketers spend too much time and energy trying to convince upper management of the business case. Instead, perhaps senior management should build a case as to why the bulk of budget should be spent on a relatively homogenous approach to general or flat growth segments. I believe that institutional investors should get involved. The color of importance for them is green--looking after the value of stock for the pension funds and others who depend on the vitality of companies in which they invest.
1to1: How will the multicultural population impact various industries in the near future? What small steps can marketers take to ensure they're prepared, even if they still lack CMO buy-in?
CM: One phenomenon is the longer half-life of culture as opposed to language. Cultural behaviors and preferences last further into generations even after language dissipates. These days, we retain our language and culture longer and we embrace it more. That's why the center of gravity is bi-cultural or even multicultural. We as consumers increasingly choose to indulge and embrace our heritage and celebrate the culture of our friends and loved ones. This leads to an increasing adherence to cultural preferences that bring even more richness to the American experience.