Having worked on campaigns for a large variety of ethnic audiences including: Arabic, Chinese, English, Filipino, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, and Vietnamese, we have an in-depth understanding of diverse ethnic markets and their cultural proclivities.

Here we would like to share 5 useful tips on the Do’s and Don’ts of multicultural marketing.

Don’t just appoint a leader because of his/her ethnic heritage.

Having the ethnic heritage does not necessarily make that employee an ideal candidate to lead a multicultural marketing initiative or company’s diversity program. We have seen many disasters placed in the hands of second and third generation visible minority employees – they simply do not have genuine understanding of the culture and psychographics of the new immigrants.

Don’t test the water with the wrong foot.

Multicultural marketing has to be long term and strategic. It is fine to have a test program to learn and expand. But many times I have seen marketers unable to build clear objectives (or be overly aggressive) and choose the right measurement tools. Having the right product is also very important. As one Chinese saying goes, consider selling combs to Chinese monks (who are bald).

Don’t be ad hoc.

Multicultural marketing has to be bought in from the top management to bottom, and across the board.

Many times we have seen successful multi ethnic initiatives led by experienced marketers die suddenly when the senior leader leaves the company. In most cases, there is a lack of knowledge sharing and succession plan. And when there is no senior management buy in, multicultural marketing budget is the first to be on the chopping block. Past investments go down the drain. Ethnic consumers are left wondering about their future with the marketer/brand. They feel abandoned.

Don’t send out 20 RFP.

Know what you want and stay focused. If not sure, hire a consultant to help you define your needs and evaluation process before your agency search.

Don’t let numbers fool you.

Research is useful. But asking right questions and to be able to interpret them accurately are key. A seasoned ethnic marketing expert should be able to tell you if the numbers make sense. On several instances, I have seen wrong information being conveyed via studies which are designed and conducted the way that may or may not give you an accurate picture. Anything from picking the survey base to formulating the questions or survey and choosing the survey method can give you many different results. Don’t blindfold yourself to numbers that may lead you down the wrong path.

About the Author

Loretta Lam has been a trailblazer in various fundraising campaigns in the Chinese community for over 15 years. She is currently a member of the Chinese advisory board to ORBIS Canada. Since 2004, she has helped ORBIS Canada build its Chinese donor base from 10% to 60% of its total donor base. Former board director of the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, Loretta was an active member in its capital fundraising campaign. She is founder of national marketing firm Focus Communications Inc. that specializes in “Total Communications” with both corporate and not-for-profit clients.