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It's the culture, stupid!

It's the culture.001When Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992, one of his advisers famously put a sign in the Little Rock campaign headquarters to keep the candidate on message.  

"It's the economy, stupid" became something of a slogan for the campaign.

Smart marketers would be wise to do business under a similar banner:  It's the culture, stupid. 

And one of the defining characteristics of American culture in the 21st century is that it is becoming increasingly diverse. 

In 2010, for the first time, more than half of all births in the U.S. will be to Hispanic, Black, and Asian moms. The Census Bureau estimates that minorities will constitute a majority of Americans under age 18 in only one decade. By 2050, non-Hispanic whites will be in the minority across all age groups within the U.S.  

Multicultural markets are the new mainstream. But effective multi-cultural marketing requires more than a good bi-lingual dictionary.  

Multicultural audiences consume media differently. African Americans are heavier radio listeners than average, and Hispanic consumers spend more time online. At the same time, ethnic media is exploding across the country. In some major markets, including Los Angeles, Miami, and New York – Spanish-language TV stations have higher ratings among the young adults advertisers covet than the mainstream networks. 

Multi-cultural audiences have different cultural values and consumption patterns.  For example, P&G research shows that African-American women spend at least three times as much on beauty products as the general female population. P&G also found that 71 percent of black women feel they are portrayed worse in the media than any other racial group. 

The result was a nationwide “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign, underwritten by Pantene, Cover Girl, Crest and Always, to share beauty and lifestyle tips within the context of a discussion about issues of concern to African-American women.  

Finally, the “multi” in multi-cultural applies within groups that speak the same language as well as between them and others.  There are social and cultural differences between Hispanics of Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Cuban descent, not to mention between people in the nearly two-dozen other Spanish-speaking countries. 

Similarly, besides speaking different languages, the U.S. Asian population includes people who trace their ancestry to countries as diverse as India and Vietnam or Nepal and Japan. 

Multi-cultural marketing is not only about language, it’s about identifying with people’s values and traditions. 

Like all good marketing, it’s about culture.  

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