Comcast masters multicultural marketing
February 10, 2012 in Clients
CMOs looking to venture into multicultural marketing can learn a great deal from the partnership between the American telecommunications giant Comcast and the award-winning multicultural advertising agency Améredia.
Together, Comcast and Améredia produce multicultural campaigns that reach 17 distinct ethnic groups in more than 20 languages. I interviewed Natalie Rouse, Comcast’s director of multicultural marketing, and Pawan J. Mehra, an Améredia co-founder and principal, for insights into their success.
Rouse and Mehra agree on the importance of early adoption. “Starting early is key if you value the first-movers advantage,” Mehra said. “Being the first to establish your brand will go a long way in gaining brand loyalty.” Targeting diverse customers can boost brand recognition tremendously within those communities.
Rouse elaborated on her company’s efforts:
Comcast has been carrying multicultural programming in the US for over 12 years, and as our business grew, so did the need to carry additional programming, and we branched out into even more ethnicities. Our customers speak many languages and are from many backgrounds. It is important to ensure our employees and products relate to our customers.
Relatability matters, as shown by the latest Census Bureau figures, which have caused marketers to sit up and take notice of previously neglected populations. “With a verified change in multicultural demographics and buying power and growth potential,” Mehra told me, “companies of all sizes are taking note, though some more proactively than others.”
What helped Comcast and Améredia get ahead of their competitors was recognizing a need for more targeted marketing.
“The world of multicultural marketing is still new and growing,” Mehra said. “Traditionally, companies are comfortable with the idea of approaching the larger homogenous [market] segments… It becomes challenging when these companies start to venture into culturally diverse and heterogenous segments, as it affects their branding trying to extend their core messaging to distinct segments.”
How should marketers approach diverse ethnicities? Rouse stressed the importance of knowledgeable leadership. “CMOs need a senior executive that understands and focuses on these cultures with a team to execute,” she said. “The biggest mistake corporate America is making is hiring marketers because they speak another language, and they think that makes the candidate qualified for the job. When you’re working in 17 ethnicities and 26 languages, you have to understand how to market to multiple ethnicities.”
Mehra echoed Rouse’s sentiment. “Cultural sensitivity, nuance, appeal, preference, behavior, and response differ widely across different ethnic groups and even within subgroups of the larger segments. Understanding those are key” for any multicultural marketing effort.
He advises companies to view multicultural marketing as a long-term investment. “Having spent years and decades in building brands, companies should be willing to spend a few years to build a culture-specific following.” Organizations that do so “will reap the benefits of increased mindshare and marketshare within these high-growth segments.”
Ultimately, Rouse and Mehra feel that inclusiveness and cultural sensitivity are the keys to their success. At Comcast, “we are very proud of the results from the campaigns we execute both nationally and regionally,” Rouse said. “Our focus is to bring quality products and services to the underserved markets and to ensure the materials are culturally sound and provide inclusion into those communities.”
Mehra said, “There’s more to America than just a few cultures. Don’t see just inclusion, but total inclusion. Don’t see just diversity, but diversity in its entirety. Only when you have a good knowledge of the entire landscape can you make more informed decisions that would impact your company’s growth.”
What are your experiences with marketing to specific ethnic markets? Please share your insights with us in the comments.