Digital MarketingMulticultural Marketing? - Everything You Need to Know

Multicultural Marketing? – Everything You Need to Know

When trying to reach a diverse audience, the company’s goal is to appear knowledgeable and empathetic. Everyone knows that companies are always trying to sell something, so it is essential that the awareness message be socially up to date and informed. Having a multicultural consumer base means that a company must have a multi-faceted marketing campaign.

What exactly is multicultural marketing?

Multicultural marketing is essentially “a marketing strategy that recognizes the differences in culture and ethnicities in a target market.” A company may realize that it has a diverse customer base, but that does not mean that its marketing strategies are culturally relevant. Imagine crafting a sales campaign for a product around October 11th. This day is widely known as Columbus Day, but in recent years there have been efforts to recognize the federal holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day.

As a company, it is important to be aware of the changing tides of social etiquette around historical events and how they relate to their marketing strategies. Many companies still offer discounts and sales around “Columbus Day.” But many organizations began shifting toward a more pro-Native American path on October 11NS. Instead of running a sales campaign, many companies are now choosing more campaigns based on indigenous-centric initiatives, often considering the impact on history.

Initiating this change from Columbus Day marketing to Indigenous Peoples Day can be seen as inclusive and addressing the needs of a marginalized and disadvantaged group. This not only portrays the business as culturally informed, but also exposes it to new customer demographics. Based on a 2019 survey, “79 percent of students surveyed supported replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Day, according to College Pulse, a data analytics and survey company.”

Attracting a newer and younger demographic can be critical to keeping the business relevant to the industry. Companies can market products and services under Columbus Day if they choose. But the demographics that react and react to the message are more likely to tend to be older and more conservative. This in itself is not a mistake. However, companies must be mindful of how their messaging attracts some demographics and pushes others away.

Speaking of keeping others away, sometimes of trying to bring people together through what they think multicultural marketing can do the opposite. Another cultural holiday that has made cultural waves over the past year is Juneteenth.

Recently converted into a federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the official end of slavery for African Americans in Galveston, Texas in 1866 (3 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed). African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth, in Texas, for decades. But, with ongoing debates about police brutality, racial inequality, and activist Opal Lee pushing for it to become a federally recognized holiday, Juneteenth has risen into the cultural spotlight.

Several companies have already created marketing campaigns centered around Black Lives Matter, in an effort to show solidarity with the Black community. But, with Juneteenth turning into a nationwide holiday, some companies saw an opportunity to reach a minority demographic in a deeper way.

However, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here are some examples of companies that have tried and failed to create a marketing campaign around Juneteenth.

Example 1: “Old Navy has suspended the Juneteenth campaign after it asked black influencers to buy the brand’s Juneteenth T-shirts, in addition to slashing their prices, according to Fashion United.”

Example 2: “The NHL’s San Jose Sharks recently deleted a Twitter post depicting a mascot breaking the literal limitations of slavery.”

Example 3: “The Ford spot that has been in operation since last week, consisting of what looks like stock footage, is also trying to honor the holiday.”

(Examples provided by

These marketing scenarios show how using multicultural marketing the wrong way can, at best, upset the demographic the company is trying to reach, or at worst, severely offend them. Each of the above scenarios missed the mark of trying to show solidarity with the African American demographic. When a company doesn’t do a full research on the cultural habits of the demographic it’s trying to reach, it can lead to a major backlash.

Many companies tend to forget about it when creating a multicultural marketing campaign which is the importance of being specific. It is often overlooked that not all blacks are of African American descent. Blacks come from all over the world. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all African-Americans celebrated Pentethe thirteen before it became a national holiday.

Specifically, African Americans from Texas celebrated the Greek eleventh. Therefore, a hockey team in San Jose, California that creates a post on Juneteenth may not reach the target audience. The Texas franchise sports team will have a better time reaching the target audience due to demographics and location.

Creating a multicultural campaign can be challenging in an environment of political, cultural and social turmoil. It is very important to know how to read the room, or in this case, the digital room reading. With social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., it is easier than ever to gauge potential audiences on their likes and dislikes as a consumer.

As a business, get in the habit of studying your customer base. See who they follow, what posts they like, and what content they comment on. This is part of your awareness of what the conversation is about.

As mentioned earlier, cultural awareness is a huge part of creating successful multicultural campaigns. If a company wants to target Hispanic/Latino Americans, they should consider incorporating their native language, Spanish, into their outreach message.

If this same company wants to run a Juneteenth campaign, they should consider giving a portion of the sales from products purchased to programs and initiatives that help advance the African-American community. Finally, if that company decides they want to take advantage of October 11NS To honor Native Americans, a strategy could be to donate product sales to foundations and resources that can highlight and educate pre-colonial Native American civilization.

This is where empathy comes into play. The intended target audience must feel that the company can empathize with aspects of its culture. People know that the main objective of the company is to sell the product. This means that the company has to care a lot and pay attention to how it understands its message in a positive and a negative way.

If a company has made a mistake or has a history of being culturally/racially insensitive, they should be willing to show you how they will actually change for the better. Think of how a company like Vogue was met with skepticism when editor-in-chief Anna Wintour promised readers that she had admitted the magazine’s failure to promote diverse fashion creators. Even the former employees were skeptical.

The real cure takes time and work from those who have played a role in marginalizing people who are not part of the white demographic majority. Companies must earn the trust of their audience, regardless of demographics, through honesty and consistency.

A successful multicultural marketing campaign does not make a company a beacon of diversity. Putting the audience first is always the key to successfully reaching them.


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