Tag Archives: multicultural marketing

How to effectively implement total market strategy – taking a chapter from the Pixar new film “Coco”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

Coco

 

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:

 

Traditional total market strategy

 

 

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).

 

Ideal total market strategy

 

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 iris@sparkleinsights.com.

Asian American growth in the South – A reflection on the election of Hongbin Guo as Chapel Hill city council member

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

News coverage of this November elections has focused on how Democrats fared in the first tests of Trump’s impact. Something else close to home also caught my attention. Hongbin Gu, a UNC associate professor and immigrant from China, was elected as a Chapel Hill town council member with the highest number of votes among the candidates (6116 votes). In fact, more than 50% of those who voted casted a vote for her (voter turnout was 10193, as reported in http://www.orangecountync.gov/departments/board_of_elections/voter_turnout_statistics.php). Her election was a surprise to me, to her, and all her supporters as well. Although Chapel Hill is a college town, it is after all part of the South which is more socially conservative than the rest of the country. Chinese residents account for a mere 2.8% of the Orange County population (3905 out of 138644). Estimate of eligible voters of Chinese origin are 1103 (3905 * 0.73 [% of Orange County population who are adults] *0.79 [% of adult Asians who are foreign born] * 0.49 [% of Asian residents who are naturalized] = 1103). So Hongbin Gu couldn’t have been elected with Chinese voters’ support alone. When I saw her signs while driving, I wondered how voters would embrace a candidate with a foreign sounding name. My concern was apparently not necessary. And Orange County voters proved that they are more open-minded than I thought.

 

For me, Hongbin Gu’s election exemplifies two things: One, the awakening of Asian Americans and their increasing participation in public affairs and advocacy; and secondly, the growing numbers and influence of Asian Americans in the south.

 

For Hongbin Gu’s campaign, the entire Chinese community in Chapel Hill was mobilized to raise funds, distribute flyers door to door, and staff event booths and ballot stops on election day. A WeChat group was created for the campaign to coordinate volunteers. Based on my casual observation, Hongbin Gu’s campaign was more organized and better staffed than other candidates. In addition to her own leadership and capability, I think another very important reason for her win is that Asian Americans increasingly realized the importance of civic participation and having a voice in public affairs, and they threw all their support behind someone who can represent them. Nationwide, AAPI Data counted over 30 AAPI candidates that were newly elected or re-elected to office in this election.

 

Regarding population trends, North Carolina is one of the states with the fastest growth of Asian Americans. Asian population in the state grew 85% from 2000 to 2010. Hmart opened its first NC store in Cary at the end of 2016. In the beginning of 2017, the First Chapel Hill LIGHTUP Lantern Festival drew close to 10,000 in attendance at University Place, a mall at the heart of Chapel Hill. Due to the overwhelming reception of the event, the event is moving to a larger venue, Friday Center, for 2018. Raleigh also saw its first Korean festival at the beginning of 2017.

 

Implications

Here are a few thoughts for marketers interested in the Asian American market:

 

Asian American marketing should go beyond traditional markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. While these markets still have the highest concentration of Asian Americans, they only account for part of the Asian American market.

 

Digital media can be leveraged to geo-target Asian Americans wherever they are. Mainstream platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and more niche platforms such as WeChat (particularly popular among Chinese) and Whatsapp (particularly popular among Indians) offer great opportunities for display ads and content marketing to increase awareness and build relationships. While digital media are powerful platforms, great care needs to be taken in ad placement. I have seen Spanish ads placed in the middle of Chinese language drama on YouTube, which is clearly a waste of money.

 

Lastly, traditional media still important. According to Reaching the Fastest Growing Consumer in a Digital World by the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF), 80% of Asian Americans watch TV and 52% listen to radio on a daily basis. Newspaper is an importance source for local news. Asian Americans often pick up free in-language newspapers at Asian supermarkets and read in-language news on mobile apps or the Internet.

 

Hongbin Gu announcing her campaign

Challenges and opportunities in Asian American media – a reflection of the 3AF media roundtable discussion

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

I recently had the opportunity to attend a media roundtable discussion hosted by the Asian American Advertising Federation and sponsored by AARP at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Nov. 2, 2017. Going into the roundtable discussion with the news of the closing of New American Media (a multimedia ethnic news media and a coalition of ethnic media founded in 1996 by the nonprofit Pacific News Service) and the cancellation of international format by LA Channel 18 earlier this year, I was not expecting much. The discussion of challenges facing the Asian American marketing industry reflected broader trends in media and advertising.  These include the decrease in spending in traditional media; ethnic media’s struggle to attract younger, U.S.-born users while at the same time retaining their core first generation immigrant audience; the challenge to fight never ending piracy in video content; and a lack of understanding of the climate of Asian American marketing at the brand level.

 

However, there are some bright spots. Saavn, a digital distributor of Indian music globally, has successfully switched from a free service to a paid subscription service and is now available on iTunes and Alexa. Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based newspaper which expanded to the United States in recent years, is able to garner 20 million unique users and 80 million page views on a daily basis. It distributes news digitally via geo-targeting apps, leveraging on content produced in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also has a U.S.-based team generating unique domestic content. Thirdly, traditional radio is experiencing a renaissance in the Vietnamese community, so much so that Viet TV recently launched a 24/7 radio station in Houston. Their success suggests that there are opportunities for ethnic media to prosper when they find the right niche and deliver content on an appropriate platform for the target audience.

 

The discussion also touched on the challenge of a lack of standard measurement for Asian media. Only a handful of Asian media subscribe to the Nielsen rating service or can afford an audit. I agree that it would be beneficial to have standard measures to help marketers measure campaign effectiveness and ROI. However, I think it’s only meaningful to a certain extent. Marketers certainly need media measurement to make a business case for their spending. But numbers don’t tell the entire story. I reflect on my own media usage. I use mostly mainstream media such as the Wall Street Journal and Business Week. News from Asia for me comes primarily from Facebook and WeChat forwards and commentary from friends. I only pick up a Chinese newspaper when I visit the local Asian supermarket once or twice a month. Entertainment is a mixed bag of Asian and mainstream content from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. For me, the use of ethnic media is not about frequency, it’s about emotional and cultural connection.  That’s perhaps why Danny Wong, a Chinese American born in the U.S., decided to launch Sky Link TV (a 24/7 Chinese satellite TV station in the US) in 2015. He said at the media roundtable that although he is a U.S. native, he wants to see programming that reflects his cultural background. That said, further research is needed to evaluate the role of ethnic media and effectiveness of advertising among Asian Americans.

3AF 2017 media roundtable group selfie

 

3AF 2017 media roundtable

Decoding Culture from the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

During the past few years, there has been a lot of debate on various approaches to marketing to today’s multicultural, minority-majority consumers, namely, whether a segmented/targeted approach or a Total Market approach would be more effective. At the heart of the debate is the role of culture and its influence on consumer behaviors. One of the main themes from this year’s Asian Marketing Summit by the Asian American Advertising Federation is culture and its role in marketing. I thought I would share my key takeaways from these insightful presentations.

 

Culture is a very broad term. A Google search of definition of culture yields the following: The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. So it can be anything, be it based on age, gender, generation, era, ethnic background, etc. For the purpose of discussion in this blog, culture referrals to one’s upbringing, and for immigrants, cultural background and identity pertaining to their countries of origin.

 

In Kathy Cheng’s presentation Culture: A Pathway to Unstated Consumer Preferences, she provides ample examples to illustrate cultural DNA of interdependence in Asian culture being the key driver for Asian consumers’ predisposition to seek one-stop shopping or package deals. One of the examples she presented is the comparison between travel site apps Ctrip (a popular Chinese travel app) and Priceline. The Ctrip app includes more than two dozen functions from air fare, lodging to travel visa to local restaurants and 24/7 customer service. In contrast, the Priceline app sports a clean and clear look with three primary functions – hotels, flights and rental cars. (For more information about Kathy’s presentation on cultural DNA, please refer to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/meet-consumers-where-multicultural-marketing-kathy-cheng)

Comparison of Priceline and Ctrip by Kathy Cheng

(Illustration from Kathy Cheng’s presentation at the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit)

 

Culture no doubt plays an important role in consumer behaviors. The next question becomes as immigrants and their descendants acculturate, how much of that cultural DNA is retained.

 

In the Asian American Market Report created by Phoenix Marketing International in partnership with ISA, majority of Asian Americans maintain their cultural connection through food, music, TV programming and attending community events regardless of acculturation level.

AAMR cultural connection by acculturation

(Asian American Market Report by Phoenix Marketing International)

 

Ramit Sethi, a New York Times best-selling author of I will Teach You To Be Rich, in fact takes pride in his cultural background in some of his personal/business growth advice. https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/negotiate-like-an-indian-how-to-negotiate-a-salary-increase-video/

 

Asian American’s connection to cultural roots is noteworthy because the influence of one’s identity, culture and passionate points can be amplified effectively in this digital age and have an impact on broader consumer groups.

 

Edwin Wong, VP of Research and Insights of Buzzfeed, in his presentation Decoding Culture elaborated on the end of demographics, segmentation and targeting and the power of one in consumer influence in culture, movement and ultimately purchase behavior.

Edwin Wong at 3AF 2017 Summit

(Edwin Wong, VP of Research and Insights Buzzfeed, speaking at the 2017 3AF Asian Marketing Summit)
Indeed, Markio Carpenter, VP of Strategic Community Alliances at Nielsen, shared in her presentation on the influence of digitally savvy and trendsetting Asian American women whose passion for Korean beauty products has introduced General Market female consumers to a whole new world of beauty products and skincare regimen.

Mariko Carpenter at 3AF 2017 Summit

(Mariko Carpenter, VP of Strategic Community Aliances at Nielsen, speaking at the 3AF 2017 Asian Marketing Summit)

 

The latest 3AF media consumption study (http://www.3af.org/research/index.html) sheds lights on a consumer group that’s bicultural, bilingual and digital savvy. They use mainstream media for information and entertainment but also utilize niche media to stay connected to their cultural roots, the community and their home countries. Technology also makes contents in all forms, whether produced in the U.S. or in home countries, more accessible than ever. Technology tools and Asian American’s digital savviness make it easier to share their passion, authentic stories and amplify their influence as a consumer group.

3AF Asian American media consumption study

(Cover of 3AF’s Asian American media consumption study) 

 

Culture takes many forms, part of it is ingrained, part of it is acquired and may shift based on social norms, trends, education, information and interactions with others.

My husband who is Danish, fluent in Mandarin, well versed in Chinese culture and history once joked with me that he was more Asian American than most of the U.S. born Asian Americans. I posted a quiz about whether my Danish husband, who has obviously acquired a lot of Asian culture and knowledge, can be considered “Asian American” on my Facebook and most of my Asian American friends said “no.” I take that they considered being Asian American a right or identify by birth, not something that can be acquired. And there is pride in that cultural identity.

Uffe Bergeton talking to 2nd graders about Chinese culture

(Dr. Uffe Bergeton, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at UNC, Chapel Hill, talking to 2nd graders about his Chinese seal collection)

 

There are many ways that each of us chooses to identify ourselves be it gender, ideology, religion, or social economics. But at the end of the day, it’s the ingrained cultural DNA, one’s upbringing and cultural roots that plays the most important role in shaping one’s identity. And that’s where marketers can meet consumers where they are, on an emotional level.

 

Moon Lovers – Scarlet Heart Ryeo: A Case study of Transcreation

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Korean drama Scarlet Heart Ryeo

 

In my career as a market researcher, I have tested many concepts and taglines transcreated (The process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context) for multicultural audiences. Most of the time, the respondents’ reactions are lukewarm and they bluntedly point out that it’s something translated from English and doesn’t really flow. Admittedly, transcreating a creative concept is a lot more challenging than creating an original concept. It needs to convey the same message as the original concept while at the same time is unique, creative, culturally relevant and authentic in its own way.

 

When I saw Korean drama Scarlet Heart Ryeo recently, I thought it was an excellent sample of transcreation and there are some lessons that could be drawn for agencies that practice the art of transcreating creative concepts for multicultural consumers.

 

Scarlet Heart Ryeo drew my attention because it is the remake of a popular Chinese drama Scarlet Heart (a first for Korean drama). It was recently aired in Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and can be viewed by the rest of world on the video streaming website DramaFever. Having watched the original Scarlet Heart series, I was impressed by the creative adaptation of the Korean version that remained true to the spirit of the original story yet reflected Korean authenticity.

 

Both the original and transcreated versions reflect a creative interpretation of history. The storyline is based on a young 21st century woman being transported back in time where she meets princes of the ruling family. The heroine’s strong character, spirit of freedom and kindness wins her friendship from all of the princes.  She eventually falls in love with the 8th prince and later the 4th prince and finds herself entangled in a power struggle for the throne.

 

Four key elements, which demonstrate this, are described below:

 

Cultural elements

The Korean version is set in Goryeo Dynasty and incorporates many cultural elements and customs of the time.  Scenes depicting the sword dance and ceremony to chase evil spirits from the palace, bathhouses and the rain ritual after a long drought are examples of authentic cultural elements.

 

Creative adaptation of the story

The story is also adapted to be closer to Korean history.  The power struggle comes from the ruling family’s relationship with powerful clans that the king relies on — instead of a struggle within the palace as in the original version.  Another example is how the relationship between the brothers and their roles are depicted.

 

Creative adaptation of main characters

There are also considerable adaptations made to the main characters. Heroine Hae Soo, unlike Zhang Xiao who is well versed in Chinese history, has difficulty remembering historical facts.  She also is portrayed as illiterate since she has not studied the Chinese characters which are used by aristocrats at the time.  However, her expertise in makeup application enables her to cover Wang Soo’s (the 4th prince) facial scar – this ultimately changes his fate.  Wang Soo is also portrayed much more charismatic compared to the cold and calculating 4th prince ,Yin Zhen, in the Chinese version.  Further adaptations are observed by the use of more fight scenes for Wang Soo.  This variation is utilized because the story is set during the medieval period where fighting skills was one of the critical qualities of a capable prince and leader.

 

Korean drama style

The original Chinese period drama is serious and melancholy due to its theme of a royal power struggle and tragic ending.  The Korean version, while still serious in tone, has more light-hearted moments  –exemplifying a key characteristic of Korean story telling.

 

So what does a Korean drama have to do with marketing to multicultural consumers in the U.S.? Advertising agencies are often given the assignment of adapting a General Market concept for various multicultural consumer targets – Hispanic, Asian, and African American. Agencies have taking various approaches, from simply translating the copy, to casting multicultural actors while keeping the English to creatively adapting the concept for their target revamping everything including copy, casting, and production in the process.

 

Under the pressure of maximizing efficiency and profit, it’s tempting to have one creative concept and branding platform and then translating it into different languages with minimal adaptation. But as we can see from the Scarlet Heart Ryeo example above, while one can have an integrated approach, there is room for transcreation to tailor your canpaign story for specific targets. And a transcreation that is orginal and well thought out can have a cross cultural appleal. It was a hit in China (acculmulated more than 1.7 billion views on Chinese streaming site Youku) and the second most popular drama on DramaFever in North and South America.

 

In case you’re interested, the show is available on DramaFever and Viki with English subtitles. Be warned, you may catch the infectious drama fever.

 

Special thanks to Edward Chang of APartnership and Jay Kim of AAAZA for their feedback and input.

 

Chinese drama Scarlet Heart 2011

Asian American business owners represent significant opportunities for business service providers

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

ASIAN CAFE OWNER/WORKER BEHIND COUNTER

According to the newly released inaugural annual survey of entrepreneurs by the Census, more than half of the minority-owned firms with paid employees were Asian-owned.

 

This represents great opportunities for companies that provide services to business owners such as financial institutions, shipping, software/cloud, etc.

 

The proposed EB6 startup visa, if passed, will likely accelerate growth of immigration and business ownership for this particular population given that China and India send the highest number of international students to the U.S. annually.

 

A few things that marketers should keep in mind when reaching out to Asian American business owners:

1) 2/3 of Asian Americans are foreign born, they face unique challenges in language barrier, navigating through regulations and healthcare systems, and having credit history to obtain credit lines or loans.

2) Asian Americans are highly concentrated in a few states and metro areas, where share of business ownership exceeds share of population.

3) Asian Americans are relationship oriented, particularly when it comes to business. Marketers need to take the time to understand the target’s unique needs and build relationship with them.

Why WeChat should be part of your social media strategy and marketing mix, and why you should care

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Iris Yim

 

Although WeChat is relatively unknown in the U.S., it has close to 550 million actively monthly users and has become the default social media and a cultural and social phenomenon in China in the short amount of time since its launch in 2011.

 

WeChat is a messaging app developed and owned by Tencent which also owns another popular messaging service in China – QQ.  It’s essentially a messaging app with which you can make free voice and video calls and leave voice and text messages but it also has “Moments” which is similar to a Facebook wall where you can see the updates of your contacts and the content they share.  So it’s like a combination of Whatsapp + Facebook.  It’s easy to set up a group chat to interact with friends and family or a group of people with similar interests.

 

Here are some interesting statistics of WeChat:

– Percentage of Internet users in China that use WeChat – 65%

– Number of registered WeChat accounts – 1.1 billion

– Average amount of time Chinese adults spend on WeChat daily – over 40 minutes

– Percentage of users that open it more than 10 times a day – 55.2%

 

So WeChat is the default social media in China, so what?  Why and how does it concern marketers in the U.S?  You may ask.  It’s true with all its marketing efforts to expand in the U.S., WeChat has barely made a dent in the social media market in this country which is dominated by Facebook.  Latest statistics suggest only 2% mobile Internet users in the US that use WeChat on a monthly basis.  However, if you’re targeting Asian Americans, you will need to pay attention to WeChat and here is why.

 

– Chinese is the largest segment of the Asian American population and 70% of them are foreign born.  They have friends and family in China who all use WeChat and the immigrant himself will be enticed to sign up as well.

– There are 274,439 Chinese international students in the U.S. for the school year of 2013-2014 who all use WeChat to keep in touch with friends and family at home and fellow Chinese international students in the U.S.

– Then not to mention the tens of thousands of Chinese tourists who visit the U.S. and shopping is an essential item on the itinerary.  Last year, 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited America and spent a whopping $21.1 billion. The number of visitors from China to the U.S. is expected to rise to 3.1 million in 2019.  And they use WeChat to share information on merchandise, deals and brands with friends and family.  Many of them are on a shopping mission to not only shop for themselves but also shop for friends and family.

 

For Chinese who live in the U.S., WeChat provides a platform to bring the community together to share news, interests, concerns and bond with each other.  Some large group chats have hundreds of active participants.  News travels fast among these group chats and the community will be galvanized into action in a very short amount of time.

 

On May 15, 2015, when a coalition of Asian American groups announced a complaint against Harvard on discriminating Asian Americans for admission at a press conference, one of the attendees sent pictures, videos and reporting of the press conference to his WeChat group chat and these messages, pictures and videos were redistributed to the numerous group chat across the U.S.  The Chinese community learnt about the news of the complaint hours before mainstream media’s report on the complaint against Harvard.

 

Given WeChat’s influence on the Chinese community in the U.S., politicians and community organizations are taking notes.  I have seen Hilary Clinton’s ad on WeChat recruiting Chinese staff and volunteers for her campaign.  Recently, a police department in Flushing, NY, established a public WeChat account to communicate with and better serve the Chinese community in the area.  However, brands in the U.S. are largely missing in action.

 

Given that China is the number one source of new immigrants, the number one source of international students to the U.S. and the whopping spending power of Chinese tourists, WeChat is an effective way to reach these target groups and should part of your social media strategy and marketing mix.

 

Here is an example of the marketing power of WeChat

A friend of mine shared a blog post on “Moments” by an entertainment news blogger about the shoes the female lead wears in the latest Jurassic Park movie.  It has an interesting and humorous twist to it.  It comments on how the female lead miraculously outruns the dinosaurs in those shoes and why every girl should have a pair of shoes like that so that they can win the race of life.  It goes on to talk about the brand and designer of the shoes.  The result?  I went on Amazon.com to order a pair for myself!!

 

WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World 2 WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes  WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes 2