Build Ethnic Stories that Resonate
You're a company interested in capitalizing on a trillion-dollar opportunity by broadening your appeal to multi-influential women of color.
You've already done the necessary market research and have built a brand premise based on the insights gained from this study. You're excited about the possibilities and have allocated a budget for materials you see as a valid investment in this opportunity. You feel comfortable with what you want to communicate and are ready to begin developing a story that resonates with these women. What happens next?
This is the second in a four-part series on multi-influential women of color. The first article introduced this burgeoning market. This article will explain how to tell a story that resonates with these women.
There are two ways to tell stories to an ethnic market, both legit, though they target different segments within that market.
The first way is for brands targeting younger women who, for the most part, were raised in this country and prefer to consume their magazines, their internet and their cable TV in English. The second way targets first-generation women who came to this country later in life, usually older and more comfortable in their languages of origin.
First, the younger segment who were typically raised in this country. While they tend to consume mainstream media, they often veer off on a more ethnic route when it comes to music, as most prefer a healthy mix of their music (be it hip hop, salsa or Korean pop) along with mainstream American hits. Many live in ethnic neighborhoods with neighbors and family members who may not be as acculturated as they are.
Understanding who these women are from a cultural perspective and speaking to them in those terms is key. These women live in two worlds, and they like both of them. They prefer to be spoken to in English, although they are fiercely proud of their culture. The creative challenge for this market is to convey the brand premise "in culture" through mainstream media.
Leveraging culture means tapping into the sources of expression that define an ethnic group. Those sources include music, style, humor, attitude, social mores, traditions, celebrities and pop culture. Use all of this as fodder to create a story in English that will be especially attractive to the groups from which it draws its inspiration. Here are a few examples of companies that have done this well. These examples are done on a grand scale, but they offer clues and guidance for smaller-scale campaigns, even ones employing different mediums.
In this Target ad, a black woman has a distinct style and appeal that are all her own.
While Beyonce is the star of this Giorgio Armani Diamonds ad, the spot would have been more powerful had it used any other good black model or singer because the style and attitude pay tribute to a classic jazzy culture, a contribution blacks made to our mainstream American music landscape, filling black women with a particular sense of pride.
Korean Air does an excellent job of leveraging Asian aesthetic in this spot that evokes an almost minty-clean fashionable flight experience for travelers.
This Campari ad uses celebrity recognition, art direction and music, successfully leveraging Salma Hayek's sexy Latina appeal to both a Latin and a mainstream audience.
Do you have to do one spot per ethnic market?
If you are a Revlon, P&G, Toyota or a McDonald's kind of company, then the answer is yes. You really should. If you're a smaller company with less of a media and production budget, you could find ways of telling a more basic brand premise story online and on TV, if you're able, and leveraging print, out-of-home, direct marketing and perhaps even radio to tell a more targeted brand story. There are plenty of opportunities here to build a rich, layered story that appeals on multiple levels to a wide range of women. Here are some examples:
This is a large-scale example of an American Airlines commercial that targets a wide range of people.
This is an excellent small-scale example of how to appeal to a wide range of women. In this intimate spot, the girl appeals to everybody; she could be black, Latina, Asian or white (she's French). Nike uses street culture to appeal to a range of young women who will admire and relate to her.
Now you may be saying to yourself, "Wait! I don't want to alienate my general market women by creating ads that leverage culture and running them in my GM buy." Don't underestimate your GM audience. Remember: Great ads, like the ones mentioned above, don't alienate. If properly produced, these ads will add dimension and depth to your brand in the eyes of your general market. Those companies that still aren't sure can always gain further knowledge by post-testing the ads to see the overall effect. Metrics vary according to company. They should be defined by the way each company measures success internally, based on its performance in the past.
For first-generation women, particularly most Hispanic and Asian women, you'll want to consider media consumption in their language of origin. Online, they may still read the news outlets from their country of origin. In the case of black, English-speaking women, they may watch mainstream TV but their choice of print and radio outlets reflects their preferences; though they share a language with the Anglo-American audience, their experience and their point of view are very different.
All of these factors must be taken into account in order to properly engage these audiences. How can you afford to produce a comprehensive campaign without sacrificing brand standards or quality? Try allocating 15 percent of your ethnic media buy to your ethnic production budget. Maybe only produce Hispanic TV in Spanish, as that is the largest segment differentiated by a single language, and leverage more cost-effective and targeted media for your Asian markets.
When marketing is done in-language, be careful about just translating the English campaign. For example, dubbing is frowned upon in the Hispanic market, where it is seen as "low-quality." This means if your talent is talking to the camera, you'll have to do the shoot twice, once in English and once in Spanish. This is completely acceptable if the creative is based on an insight that is as relevant to the Hispanic market as it is to the general market. However, if your product has specific hurdles in the Hispanic market or specific opportunities, you may want to create advertising that tackles these hurdles and capitalizes on the opportunity rather than advertising that can easily be seen as irrelevant and get overlooked. Remember: You don't have much time to make an impression, so use your time and your dollars wisely.
Last but not least, know that you're in good company. Many clients are currently grappling with the multicultural opportunity as it continues to grow. Those that have a traditionally female customer base and engage this market will maintain their brand relevancy while adding a competitive edge.