People Are People: Multicultural Groups Respond to Advertising the Same Way

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November 13, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Maul

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Aronte Bennett, assistant professor of marketing and business law at Villanova University, has been studying how different ethnic groups respond to advertising and the groups’ perceptions of brands. In a column on Advertising Age, she discusses the findings, including the fact that, despite cultural and ethnic differences, multicultural groups tend to respond similarly to advertising and brands.

She wrote:

The All-American brands were perceived the same way by all four groups. The troubled and luxury brands were perceived similarly by all the minorities, but differently by the majority. In the nonprofit category, we found distinct differences among the minorities, as well as minority versus majority.

One thing that impacted the way these communities perceived brands was if the brand had advertising that reflected their lives—ie, if there was a diverse group of people in the ads.

Bennett’s full findings will be released in early 2013, but her preview of the data comes at an interesting time. There was a recent dust-up over the insensitivity of a Durex condom ad that ran in China. And the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) just recently hosted its 2012 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity conference in Miami. A lot of this coverage focused on marketing to Hispanic consumers, especially as the ANA released data showing that 88 percent of US marketers use new media tactics to reach Hispanic consumers, compared to 54 percent who target blacks. At the conference, there were some insights into the black community, however.

Walmart SVP of brand marketing and advertising Tony Rogers spoke about a multicultural advisory committee, which includes the company’s Hispanic, black, and Asian-focused agencies.

“One hundred percent of the growth [in sales] is going to come from multicultural customers,” he said, according to AdAge. “Our spending against multicultural customers will grow by at least 100%.”

The ANA’s data also showed that 60 percent of marketers planned to increase their budgets for multicultural marketing on new media channels, which included social media and mobile, and that 24 percent plan to keep budgets the same.

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