Tamara Barber [Posted by Tamara Barber]

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference. For any multicultural marketers who have not been there, I would highly recommend it to get your finger on the pulse of what top client-side and agency marketers are doing to reach Hispanic, African-American, and Asian-American audiences.

As a panelist on the only session around how to reach Hispanics using digital channels, I was struck by the fact that many marketers still need convincing that Hispanic consumers are, indeed, online. Here are some other top-line themes that came out of the day I was there:

  • Don’t mistake language for culture. When it comes to reaching Hispanic consumers, remember that language is only one piece of Hispanic culture, and that a Spanish-language ad or Web site needs to be culturally relevant, too.
  • Research must drive marketing decisions. In order to create a culturally relevant campaign, brands must do their homework to segment and understand their Hispanic consumers. This rang loud and clear from all of the speakers, such as J.C. Penney, Allstate, Best Buy.
  • Executive buy-in is key. In order to preserve and grow budget for multicultural strategies, marketers must educate their executives on why these segments are important. For instance, Allstate continuously tracks key performance indicators on both its general market and Hispanic Web sites and can show that the Hispanic site and marketing campaigns overperform in key areas. External research from sources like Forrester and ComScore can serve to build business cases as well.
  • Measure success incrementally. Once you’re armed with solid research and have executive buy-in, be prepared to keep learning as you go and build out a strategy over time. This can mean piloting certain concepts in key stores, or testing campaigns only in specific markets. The online channel is a particularly nimble environment where you can try out different iterations on a campaign and adjust based on which ones get better response. 

This quick list doesn’t do justice to all of the great learnings from the event. After a tough year for marketers across the board, I was happy to hear so many important brands share their successes and challenges in reaching the multicultural consumer. I’m already looking forward to next year.