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Total Market Strategy

Excerpt from Chapter 8

In spite of the fact that over one-third (36 percent) of all consumers in the United States and over 41 percent of all young adults (eighteen- to thirty-four-year-olds) are multicultural, ethnic marketing efforts continue to get the short end of the stick (not to mention budgets).

Ethnic agencies are often left out of the critical strategic planning process but are often asked—at the last minute—to “adapt creative.” This approach is often destined to fail, since the creative is based on a consumer insight that may not resonate with Hispanics or touts brand benefits that Hispanic consumers simply don’t care about. Anything can be translated into Spanish, but if your message doesn’t resonate, or worse, doesn’t even make sense, Latinos probably won’t buy your product. This is the ugly truth. The problem is that far too often, this is the process for Hispanic marketing campaigns. Then, when the results come in—if they are tracked at all— and they don’t look so good, everyone is quick to say Hispanic marketing doesn’t work. We’ve come a long way, no doubt, but we still have a longer road ahead. What gives me hope, however, is that some leading companies are starting to change the way they approach their brand marketing by adopting a more holistic view of their consumers and asking their agency partners to come up with a “total market strategy.”

Some people have confused total market strategy with what I call “rainbow marketing,” which is an effort to mainstream multicultural marketing. These efforts are often driven by simple casting choices in commercials—let’s make sure we have one of each color in the ad and voilà, there’s your cross-cultural spot. In my opinion, this does not work because it is based on a superficial approach, not a strategic approach.

On the other hand, total market strategy is a seven-step process that, if done correctly, can yield incredible results. This is a process that is starting to be used by leading marketers and media planners who recognize the need to reach all potential consumers who fall within a brand’s target market, regardless of race, ethnicity, or language preference. You see, the concept of “multicultural marketing” was born in the ‘90s when ethnic segmentation tools became sophisticated enough to really help marketers and agencies better understand who was consuming their products. But over the years, the term multicultural became a way of “segregating” consumer segments by size: if they weren’t big enough, they didn’t matter. The reality is that the so-called “general market” really became a euphemism for “whites.” Smart marketers now recognize that ethnic consumers, whether Hispanic, African American, or Asian, are an increasingly important part of the mainstream, the new mainstream, as Guy Garcia called it in 2004.

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