Why marketers must start investing more in multicultural

"Hispanic marketing is not a niche; it's part of our culture and the fabric of America."

Are we there yet?
Elizabeth Barrutia  
President and CEO
BARÚ Marketing & Media

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

Marketers still aren’t staffing or investing enough for multicultural audiences. A new report says that multicultural consumers are almost 40 percent of the total population—with U.S. Hispanics at 18 percent —yet multicultural media investments comprise a mere 5.2 percent of total advertising and marketing revenues.

We collaborate with brands who understand the importance of reaching this burgeoning consumer group, but many do not have the internal teams to evaluate the work we develop for them. Some organizations still task an internal Hispanic with marketing assignments, even if they are not a marketer. Other organizations develop internal multicultural departments who are asked to develop niche plans, which many times marginalizes contributions towards broader inclusive communications strategies.

Hispanic marketing is not a niche; it’s part of our culture and the fabric of America. While we applaud brands for understanding the impact of culturally relevant marketing to this major consumer group, that alone is not enough. 

If corporations wish to successfully embrace diversity in their advertising campaigns, they must first have employees who reflect inclusive hiring practices across all departments and diversity in their total team thinking.

How about something that proves we’re making progress?

U.S. Hispanics will make up 29 percent of the growth in real income, are more likely to participate in the workforce, and are expected to add more than $1.3 trillion in buying power by 2020. With this kind of market presence, it’s increasingly important that marketers and agencies create equally diverse and representative workforces to match.

In the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp, you see women and people of color finding more and more representation in agencies.  We hope this will seriously advance the cultural conversations – especially if we continue to nurture and foster the next generation of diverse leadership. We have a long way to go to change perceptions and hiring practices, but at the top of major brands like PG&E, PepsiCo, Intel, Marvel (just to name a few) and at agencies like TBWA\Chiat\Day NY, Saatchi & Saatchi NY, for example, there is great Latina leadership. Together, as an industry, we have the power to propel the contributions of our diverse marketplace even further. 

What else needs to be done to get there?

In a recent report by Adobe, nearly three in four whites (74 percent) believe their race/ethnicity is represented in the ads they are served, compared to 26 percent of blacks and only 10 percent of Hispanic/Latinos who express similar views about ad representation. Companies who ignore inclusion are putting their brands at risk.

Generational changes with the rise of 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics have also impacted the communication and consumption needs of the market. The way we communicate with Hispanic consumers needs to evolve for the new Latinx audience in a more authentic nuanced way. It is not about marketing in language but in culture, reflecting the duality of identities of U.S. Hispanics.

If we expect more accurate representation in ads, employment levels of U.S. Hispanics in managerial positions must continue to rise to the level of growth of the population. With the right team in place you can impact change much more quickly within culturally nuanced efforts, as well as overall communication strategies.

I know we’ll be there when corporate America incorporates more Latinos in higher level occupational categories and positions of leadership.

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