From the Experts: Celebrating and Representing Audiences from Multiple Cultures
Multicultural audiences are frequently defined as individuals belonging to racial or ethnic backgrounds that are non-White. However, it is essential to clarify that when we speak of multiculturalism, we are specifically addressing those who embrace and identify with two or more distinct cultures. According to US Census ACS estimates, the population of multicultural audiences in the US has grown nearly 5X since 2010, reaching almost 42 million individuals.
This group is often underrepresented in the media. Marketers can have a significant impact by actively working to ensure that this diverse and culturally rich segment of our population is not only acknowledged, but is also authentically portrayed and valued.
In pursuit of this goal, we hosted a webinar last month featuring prominent executives and leaders – Anika Duncan, Industry Expert; Jessica Pedraja, Associate Media Director at Zambezi; Jessica Germain, Corporate Marketing Lead at My Code Media – moderated by Monica Longoria, Head of Sales Marketing at LG Ad Solutions. The goal of the panel was to directly engage with multicultural marketers and understand their perspectives on how brands can foster inclusivity and ensure that individuals like them are accurately represented.
If you missed the webinar, you can access the complete webinar on-demand below, or you can explore the key takeaways from the session:
1.Understanding Multiculturalism: Multicultural audiences frequently find themselves on the short end of the stick regarding representation in content and marketing, often being grouped with those who identify as part of racially or ethnically diverse backgrounds. However, the experience of individuals who are multicultural or belong to two or more racial backgrounds differs significantly. They frequently grapple with an identity crisis, often opting to align themselves more closely with one aspect of their cultural identity over the other. Consequently, they may not entirely fit into any of the cultures they belong to, leading to feelings of alienation. This further highlights the need to represent this group better and ensure they feel seen and heard.
2. Representation is key unless it is tokenism: The US is a melting pot of cultures, which underscores the need for brands to be thoughtful in their advertising. Often, to appear inclusive, brands add a person of color in their creative. However, genuine representation requires intentionality. Brands should question why a particular person is included in their content – Do they contribute value to the narrative and authentically depict a specific segment of society, or is it mere tokenism? Artificially adding ethnicities for the sake of diversity is evident. The choice of characters should align with the story, ensuring authenticity. The crux lies in leading with the story, prioritizing narrative richness over superficial typecasting based solely on appearance.
3. Utilize Gen Z as a brand compass: Gen Z stands out as the most diverse generation of our time. They are socially aware, quick to call out brands that don’t do what they say, and do not hesitate to demand racial diversity both in media and company structure. According to a 2021 We Are Social report, 87% of Gen Zers believe that companies are responsible for inclusively representing diverse and minority identities. When brands fall short of inclusivity, Gen Z demonstrates their discontent through boycotts and reduced engagement. For instance, 75% of Gen Z consumers will boycott companies that discriminate against race and sexuality across advertisement campaigns, according to a McKinsey study. In an ideal scenario, brands should aspire to a world where seeing authentic representation of those from diverse backgrounds on TV is entirely normal, and future generations won’t even recall a time when this wasn’t the case.
When people see themselves portrayed in the media, they respond by opening their wallets. This response isn’t confined to specific ethnicities, languages, or locations; it’s a universal phenomenon. A substantial 49% of US consumers have affirmed that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) significantly influences their buying decisions and lifestyle. When brands authentically represent diverse groups, consumers are more likely to exhibit loyalty, integrate products into their family life, initiate conversations about the items, and actively recommend them to others.
To be more inclusive, companies should begin by diversifying their talent pool. Unconscious bias often leads to the hiring of individuals who resemble the current workforce. Therefore, organizations must proactively cultivate a candidate pipeline that encompasses a range of diverse backgrounds.