||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (February 2012)|
Multicultural marketing (also known as ethnic marketing or cross-cultural marketing) is the practice of marketing to one or more audiences of a specific ethnicity -- typically an ethnicity outside of a country's majority culture, which is sometimes called the "general market." Typically, multicultural marketing takes advantage of the ethnic group's different cultural referents -- such as language, traditions, celebrations, religion and any other concepts -- to communicate to and persuade that audience.
The reasons for multicultural advertising
People tend to live within their cultural boundaries; i.e., people have their own cultural values and norms, which influence the way they think, feel and act. People in a particular ethnic group tend to share the language, customs, values, and social views, and these influence people’s cognitive (beliefs and motives), affective (emotion and attitude) and behavioral (purchase and consumption) processes. Based on this notion of “advertising as a mirror,” cultural values and standards are implanted in ads in such a way that consumers can “see themselves” and identify with the characters in the ads and feel affinity with the brands.
Value of Multicultural Marketing
Multicultural marketing can have a positive influence on "mainstream" marketing in a variety of ways:
- Innovation: Charting a multicultural marketing strategy goes beyond identifying communications programs and promotions tailored to these markets. Multicultural marketing is an engine for innovation.
- Growth: If multicultural segments are growing at higher rates than the general population, it implies that they are also consuming most products at higher rates than the rest
- Globalization: Once a corporation acknowledges the value of multicultural marketing and begins investing in research and development of products and new marketing capabilities, these can be leveraged in the global environment.
It is suggested that the following skills are required in the field of multicultural marketing.
- To spot patterns that allow subcultures to be grouped together, so that a common marketing strategy may be extended to several subcultures in a group (“transcultural” marketing)
- To develop a distinct marketing strategy for each subculture, if there is a significantly distinct cultural dimension that is important to the specific culture (multicultural marketing)
- To further segment audiences in a subculture, if needed, in terms of cultural affinity, cultural identity or acculturation level (tactical adaptation within a subculture)
- To develop parameters of culturally acceptable marketing stimuli; and
- To establish a protocol for measuring cultural effectiveness of the stimuli.
This process is also known as ethnic marketing.
Creating a multicultural marketing strategy
Multicultural marketing focuses on customizing messaging and marketing channels for each target group, as opposed to simply translating a general message into different languages, or including token representation of different ethnic groups in imagery. 
Multicultural marketing is also complicated by the degree of mainstream cultural assimilation within ethnic groups themselves. Some segments, such as recent immigrants, may highly prefer use of their mother tongue, have limited proficiency in the local language, and be highly geographically concentrated. Other groups, such as second-generation individuals born in the new homeland, may be bicultural but have less proficiency in their parent's mother tongue and be more geographically dispersed.
An ethnic marketing strategy is developed around the values and attitudes distinctive to a particular ethnic group, and generally includes the following aspects:
- Identification and collaboration with community leaders
- The promotion of culture, symbols and celebrations important to a precise target
- Enhancing and focusing on the cultural uniqueness of ethnic group
1) Understand cultural differences in communication patterns, values, and behavior in the target ethnicities. 2) Assess cultural affinity among ethnic audiences. 3) Segment the ethnic audiences based on the level of cultural affinity, 4) Evaluate the need for adjustments in strategy and tactics. 5) Explore culturally acceptable/unacceptable, sensitive/insensitive advertising messages among the identified segments, 6) Develop the most effective and efficient advertising tactics targeted to the identified segments. 7) Evaluate the effectiveness of advertising campaigns among different target segments.
Pioneers in the field of multicultural marketing include Madam C. J. Walker, African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur, Procter and Gamble, Mc Donald's, Pepsi cola and Benetton, and the entrepreneur Francesco Costa with My Own Media and ISI Holding in the foreigner services sector, Joseph Assaf with Ethnic Business Awards, Alan M. Powell CEO of AP & Associates.
- "How Brands Must Adapt to the 'New Majority Marketplace'".
- "Ethnic Marketing: A Strategy for Marketing Programs to Diverse Audiences".
- "Multicultural marketing: why one size does not fit all".
- "Madam C. J. Walker".
- "What Procter & Gamble has learned about multicultural marketing".
- "Ethnic Marketing: McDonald's Is Lovin' It".
- "Ethnic Marketing in the United States".
- "L'individuo che conta: Approccio Human Finance". Advisor. April 2007.
- "Message to immigrants has a language gap". International Herald Tribune. January 2006.
- "Costa Launches Immigrant Finance". Lombard. 31 July 2006.