2021 was the year that several brands got multicultural marketing right. From more equitable DE&I practices (including increased budgets) to elevating more people of color, multicultural marketing took a front seat to it all.

Here are a few of the winning multicultural marketing strategies we saw in 2021. Strategies that consumer brands who serve multiple cultures (which should apply to most!) should consider implementing in 2022.

Expanding the Definition of Diverse Influencer Marketing

Consumers are keenly aware that they are always being marketed to, especially with influencer marketing here to stay. And consumers’ expectations here have grown. Of course, diverse representation matters, but now it requires going beyond diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Brands are expected to take an unapologetic approach to diversity and inclusivity.

Consider Savage X Fenty, which only recently launched but regularly receives more visible praise than other lingerie retailers. Much of this could be credited to the fact it was founded by music superstar Rihanna. However, it’s also worth noting the inclusivity ethos ingrained into the business. Savage X Fenty shows influencer diversity not only in race, but also in physical ability and more. When consumers interact with the brand’s influencers, they can easily picture themselves in the product. That is what great influencer marketing does.

While brands may not always have the budget to secure big-name influencers, micro-influencers can be just as effective. The audience feels like they know these influencers, and who doesn’t want to use the same products and services as their trusted circle of friends? Spreading advertising dollars over several influencers that cover a diverse range of people can result in an ROI that’s just as good — if not better than — putting all your eggs in one basket.

Purpose-Driven Corporate Social Responsibility and Advocacy Campaigns

In 2021, we began to see brands step away from the status quo. In some cases, they righted historical wrongs and addressed deeply rooted racism within the brand itself. Aunt Jemima changed its name to Pearl Milling Company. Ulta boosted its anti-bias training and began selling more Black-owned brands. The Cleveland Indians are now The Guardians, eliminating the former Native American mascot. 

Brands must remain highly aware of what they were (and are) built upon and continue making appropriate changes for the 21st century — all without compromising the integrity of the brand.

First of all, it’s important to recognize under what circumstances the brand began. If it’s been built at the expense of slavery, a low-wage labor force, or poor working conditions, acknowledge it and find ways to give back to these marginalized communities.

Look at your audience and how it may be changing, as well. A hair-care product that was created for blondes may now have a growing Asian audience; how can the brand change in lockstep to be more inclusive? Recognize the changes that have occurred throughout the brand’s evolution and shift multicultural marketing tactics in line with them. 

Building Culture-Specific Community

Culture is found in the community, and some brands have capitalized on the power of community building. By curating safe spaces and content specifically for multicultural audiences, brands can increase trust and affinity with and engage these audiences in a meaningful way.

HBO Max recently launched its Scene in Black initiative with the mission to amplify and celebrate Black talent in front of and behind the camera while creating a path for the next generation of creators to share their stories.

As more brands turn to the coming-of-age Gen Z population and their increasing buying power, Gen Z-specific spaces are also popping up in the communities they already know and love: YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, to name the top few.

Finding targeted communities will help brands understand and connect with the next generation. Building targeted communities will help build credibility and authenticity, both of which are key for marketing-savvy consumers. As audiences grow more aware and cautious of what they’re being marketed and how, it’s key to connect transparently and openly about what you offer and how it benefits the buyer and their inner circles.

Multicultural Marketing in 2022 and Beyond

As we kick off 2022, we recognize that we are in a very different space mentally and physically than we were just a few short years ago. COVID, George Floyd, January 6, 2021… all these events have impacted the world in ways we have never imagined.

This is true for brands and audiences alike. So, as you continue to reach out and connect with your target demographics, be sensitive to their needs. Find out what’s important to them in this newly changed worldview. Then connect authentically on their level, through targeted multicultural marketing that serves their communities, their people and their values. That’s a winning formula for 2022 and beyond. 

This post was contributed by our partners at TEN35, an advertising agency transforming brands through culture.

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