For years, brands and marketers in the U.S. have watched demographics evolve and sought to capitalize on the size and the growth of multicultural consumer segments. The reasons are clear: the vast majority (92%) of U.S. population growth today is from Hispanic, African American, and Asian American populations, and these consumers are wielding increasing amounts of buying power and watching large amounts of media content.
The challenge for brands and marketers is figuring out how to tap into and engage this emerging market in order to grow along with these multicultural consumer groups. In fact, despite the opportunity these consumers present, there is still a lack of products being developed specifically for these consumers, and advertising spending directed at these audiences continues to lag.
In an effort to further define best practices in the industry, Nielsen recently completed a study of how 41 clients in packaged goods, retail, and media, prioritize and structure themselves in their approaches to reaching these consumers. The most successful strategies focused on multicultural consumer segments and were unveiled at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 event. “Companies haven’t missed the opportunity yet. It’s still here,” said James Russo, VP of global insights at Nielsen. “The question is how we move the conversation forward from opportunity to growth.”
In the study, nearly half (44%) of the surveyed companies indicated that reaching all segments of multicultural consumers (Hispanic, African American, and Asian American) is extremely important, or very important to their success.
For the companies most broadly focused on multicultural growth, their commitment to prioritize multicultural efforts is clear. Forty-five percent have senior positions/roles in their sales and have marketing organizations dedicated to reaching multicultural consumers. Many (40%) have also found success by carving out separate budgets in their marketing and sales plans for multicultural groups, which lead to specific accountability in their organizations.
Understanding multicultural consumer media habits is vital for engaging the consumers themselves, who are particularly active on social media, online, and via mobile devices. Ninety percent of the most multicultural focused companies in the study currently leverage social media to engage with their diverse audiences and consumers, twice the rate at which less dedicated companies are doing so.
During the session, Roger Battacharia, a director of analytics at Pernod-Ricard USA, joined Russo to discuss how the beverage and spirits company has shifted its focus to multicultural consumers. “The changing face of the American consumer has had a tremendous impact on our business,” said Battacharia. “Our portfolio is seeing a lot of its growth come from multicultural consumers.”
Battacharia also emphasized the importance of collaboration, recounting how Pernod-Ricard communicates with retailers about what multicultural consumption trends they’ve noticed, helping to drive success for both parties. And, indeed, the most consistent overall strategy employed by companies in multicultural efforts is collaboration between manufacturers and retailers. Each of the most dedicated companies indicated that they have pursued manufacturer-retailer collaborations on specific multicultural initiatives.
Perhaps the most striking difference between companies highly focused on multicultural consumer growth and those not is the disparity between their own clarity on goals for the future. Over a third (35%) of companies not currently focused on multicultural consumer segments do not have a clear idea on what their multicultural goals should be for the future—compared to just five percent of focused companies who don’t have clearly delineated goals.
While some companies have come along further in cultivating multicultural success than others, the opportunity still beckons. Companies that most clearly and definitively prioritize these consumers within their organizations will be best positioned to grow along with them.