The marketing industry has been dominated by the idea of Total Market in the past few years. While the definition of Total Market is still being debated, the gist of the argument goes like this: With the changing demographics (minority consumers becoming the majority in the not-so-distant future), marketers should look at the market as a whole and employ an integrated strategy instead of segmented (by ethnicity) approach in marketing strategy development and implementation.
Personally, I think the segmented approach and total market approach can be summarized as follows:
In the past, companies that conduct various degrees of multicultural marketing would have their General Market agency develop a strategy and positioning, and then agencies with different cultural expertise would be brought in to adapt that General Market positioning for various multicultural segments (Hispanic, African American, Asian American).
For Total Market, ideally, cultural insights would be incorporated in the research stage and all the agencies and client team will work on the strategy plan and positioning together, then integrated or segmented execution will be created based on business and marketing objectives.
Pixar’s much acclaimed film Coco serves as a perfect example for the second approach. Coco tells the story of Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old Mexican who dreams of becoming a famous troubadour like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. From early on, the film creators sought input on character design and story from cultural advisors and made field trips to Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato between 2011 and 2013. The film opened to No.1 spot over the Thanksgiving weekend, grossing $71 million domestically. It became the fourth-highest-grossing Thanksgiving opener of all time, behind its Disney predecessors Frozen ($94 million), Moana ($82 million) and Toy Story 3 ($80 million). In spite of the fact that the Pixar writer and director Lee Unkrich himself doesn’t have any firm connections to Mexico and its traditions, the film won praises from the Hispanic community for its authentic storytelling.
For consumer marketing, the Coco production process for cultural accurateness would translate into
Market research: make sure the sample is representative, not just including token multicultural consumers. Over-sample a certain multicultural segment if needed based on business and marketing objectives. Hire research suppliers or consultants who are well versed in the culture and implications for target segments.
Create cultural awareness through cultural training: periodically conduct cultural training sessions or immersion sessions so that different functional teams will keep cultural relevance in mind in strategy execution.
Seek input from cultural experts throughout the process: establish a mechanism to gather cultural input throughout the process of strategy development and implementation. This can be employees, consultants, consumer advisors, agency partners, etc. Having a mechanism like this in place will avoid blunders like the Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner ad that was pulled.
In addition to primary consumer research, Sparkle Insights provides cultural training services. Please contact us for details firstname.lastname@example.org.