took on the multicultural consumer. It’s a popular topic: the undeniable fact
of a diversifying US population forces brands to rethink their approaches.
Especially so, when you consider that the demographic prizes marketers most
covet ‘ Millennials and Gen Z ‘ are at the front of this change.
techniques to this thorny problem, and came away with a valuable insight about
how representation impacts viewers of color at a subconscious level. Yatisha
Forde of NBC Universal took the ‘reaching the multicultural consumer’ rulebook
and tore it right up, asking us to turn our assumptions upside down: as
multiculturalism becomes the ‘New Mainstream’, start with the Hispanic consumer and reach the rest of the market
brand on appealing to young white men, and now it needed to reach a broader
audience. It had a roster of strong reality and celebrity shows ‘ like tattoo
throwdown Ink Master and personal finance boot camp Life Or Debt. But how could the brand market its line-up to
viewers outside its former core audience?
tested them with cells of white and non-white consumers, using NeuroInsight.
NeuroInsight’s techniques monitored brain response to the ads ‘ in particular,
the extent to which long-term memory is activated by a piece of content.
its audience for a more diverse era. Despite diverse casts with people of color
prominently featured, the ads scored lower among the non-white participants on
engagement and on long-term memory activation. Emotional response was starkly
negative. What was going on?
could find out exactly what the problem was. On average the ads were a turn off
for non-white viewers, but with a stark in response before and after the first
prominent appearance of a person of color. As soon as one appeared, memory
encoding jumped. And the ad in which people of color appeared prominently
throughout ‘ for celebrity miming challenge Lip Sync Battle ‘ saw no difference
between white and non-white response.
invitation’ ‘ the point at which they unconsciously register that yes, this
show welcomes them. With this insight, Spike TV has been able to retool its marketing
as it looks to build and diversify its audience. The moment of invitation needn’t
involve visual representation ‘ one ordinary Persil ad found its ‘invitation’
in the closing seconds, with a snatch of Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do it’.
framed as both a social and commercial good, based on the overall positive
effects of under-represented groups seeing themselves in the media. Spike TV’s
study offered proof of its impact at an individual level ‘ representation is
the key to unlocking engagement, attention and long-term impact.
further. The brand’s CultureFirst’ approach flipped the traditional
multicultural script. Instead of taking a Total Market insight and ‘translating’
it for different minority groups, the CultureFirst approach takes insights
designed for a particular consumer ‘ a young Hispanic woman ‘ and then
transfers them to the total market. By not using whiteness as an assumed
baseline, CultureFirst is able to get ahead of cultural trends, not play
catch-up. As Forde put it, ‘Total market strategies driven by Latino human
truths will drive stronger consumer resonance among Hispanics and
Non-Hispanics, due to the profound, pervasive and permanent nature of Latino
culture in the US.’
Spanish-language and tested just as well among Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups
when transferred to English-language. It also meant feeding into NBC Universal’s CurveReport ‘ the company’s large-scale trend tracker. CultureFirst helped
NBC Universal locate a group it called ‘the New Mainstream’, made up of Hispanic
consumers but also Hispanic-inspired consumers: again, moving the assumptions
of what ‘mainstream’ culture is to better reveal the future shape of the
report. Some were pragmatic ‘ putting the spotlight on La Jefa (‘the boss’),
figurehead of a trend towards female-owned small Latina businesses, a segment
that’s grown 87% over the last decade. Others had profound implications for
cultural identity ‘ ‘Otherland’, shorthand for the way in which Hispanic and ‘New
Mainstream’ consumers are comfortable with multiple cultural identities from
the broad to the niche: Hispanic and witch, Blaxican and skater. But rather
than dividing consumers into segments of one, these intersectional identities
become hubs by which like-minded people can find each other.
the way it treats culture. Younger generations, it realises, want to see
themselves as the owners and tellers of their own story, not simply as an
audience. So honouring existing culture is only an important first step. After
it comes sharing culture without appropriation, by giving its owners the agency
to tell stories. Then finally helping people inspired by these stories to
2016. Grayman’s showed how new technology can crack the trickiest of marketing
problems. Forde’s was an inspirational vision of a genuinely future-focused
marketing, which puts demographic change at its centre.