Multicultural Marketing: Growth = Opportunity
By Dan Woog, Monster Contributing Writer
Culture cannot be learned, says Wanla Cheng, president of multicultural marketer Asia Link Consulting Group. It must be absorbed by osmosis.
For example, a non-Chinese marketing expert might know that in Chinese culture the number eight is propitious and four is bad, but he cannot truly understand what a Chinese immigrant wants –- or fears -– from an American bank. Without that understanding, a marketer can’t communicate with his client’s target audience: Chinese bank customers. And that’s why, according to Cheng, it’s vital for marketers to be members of their target audience.
Multicultural marketing has arrived. Asian Americans, African Americans, gays and lesbians, and especially — thanks to their surging numbers and immense buying power — Hispanic/Latino Americans all represent lucrative and growing markets.
Marketing and Cultural Skills Needed
Does this mean improved job prospects for marketing experts who are multicultural?
“Definitely,” says Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, CEO of Enlace Communications, a Hispanic/Latino marketing company. But simply being Hispanic/Latino, Asian, African American or gay does not mean you’re a multicultural marketer.
“It’s not a birthright,” notes Newman-Carrasco. “You have to leverage your culture, heritage, insights and background. You need multicultural and marketing skills.”
Vijay Chattha, “chief talker” at marketing agency VSC Consulting, advises multicultural job seekers to consider: “What skills do I bring to the table?” For example, if a prospective employer is expanding in your country of origin, highlight the connection in your cover letter.
“We market a lot to Indians and Pakistanis,” Chattha says. “It’s important to know that applicants speak, read or write those languages, or have traveled there. Even spending time in ethnic areas of big American cities is good, especially if you’ve looked at marketing strategies there.”
Right now, the multicultural marketing sector needs analysts, researchers, writers, translators and salespeople, says Newman-Carrasco. Multicultural marketers should possess foreign-language skills, particularly Spanish or Asian languages, and the ability to understand other groups from anthropological, sociological and cultural perspectives.
“Many people are ‘cultural,’ but few are really ‘multi,’” Newman-Carrasco notes. “You have to understand the whole spectrum.” For example, Mexicans should be able to relate to Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Central Americans. When hiring, Newman Carrasco looks for an understanding of sales and metrics plus a little common sense.