Best Practices in Multicultural Marketing

As the demographics of America become more diverse and target-markets stretch globally, the job of marketing has become more demanding and more important than ever before. Today, marketing experts are asked not only to develop goods and services targeted toward different groups, but to also develop different ways to appeal to these many diverse groups. There are many folks who specialize in multicultural marketing, and also a good number who are just beginning the global-marketing journey.

Profiles in Diversity Journal asked multicultural marketing executives to
share their Best Practices in Multicultural Marketing. Learn what works, what doesn’t, and what the realistic expectations are in this challenging world.

Crystal Worthem

Multicultural Marketing Manager

Ford Motor CoMpany
Multicultural marketing is a key component of our plan to drive sales and market share.
How does your organization use ethnic insights to drive growth?

the insights we gather are included in our strategic and tactical planning. it is a part of the business planning process. Multicultural marketing isn’t considered just a community initiative; it is a collective effort that is tied back to the business plan.
How is your organization’s senior management engaged or involved in the multicultural marketing process?
Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan Web site: Primary Business: Automotive

All levels of senior management have touched our multicultural marketing planning in some way. the General Manager of Marketing and the Director of Communications are involved day-to-day, from strategy to tactical execution. the management team is very supportive in removing barriers to success.

The managemenT Team is very supporTive in removing barriers To success.

Do you engage ethnic business partners in your multicultural marketing process? If so, how?

Yes, they are the keepers of the best cultural insights. We utilize our strategic partners for a better understanding of the marketplace, best practices, and execution of culturally relevant programs.
List the various ways your organization begins to understand the culture of the groups it wants to reach.

We engage our multicultural ad agencies in the product research process to ensure that we get culturally relevant insights to connect with the target markets. PDJ


Profiles in Diversit y Journal

March/april 2010

Best Pr ac tices in Multicultur al Marke ting

Juliette Mayers

Executive Director, Multicultural Marketing

Blue Cross Blue shield of MassaChusetts (BCBsMa)
Multicultural Marketing develops business and consumer strategies to ensure the needs of its diverse members and potential members. In terms of integration, all key areas of our business are involved in the work and in the ongoing development of infrastructure to support our rapidly changing marketplace. For example, the Multicultural Marketing Steering Group, the cross-functional team of leaders who help to implement our strategy, include senior leaders from Corporate Relations, Marketing, Sales, Service, Medical Innovation & Leadership, Human Resources, Health Care Services, Finance, and the Office of the CEO.
Do you engage ethnic business partners in your multicultural marketing process? If so, how? How does your organization show how your products or services will benefit and/or meet the needs of different groups targeted?

BCBSMA in 2009 initiated and engaged two very important ethnic health care and business partners. One was with the Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce (HACC). Key components of the partnership include creating both a B2B and B2C multicultural capabilities brochure in Spanish, assigning a bilingual sales rep, and collaborating with HACC on a healthcare event for Latino-owned businesses. The second was with Whittier Street Health Center, one of the largest community health centers in the Boston area. The result of this partnership in year-one of the program, was a 22% increase in multicultural members who are patients of Whittier Street Health Center. Key components of the partnership included creating multicultural health care educational materials in English and Spanish, collaborating on programming and support of Whittier’s programs, training for Whittier staff about BCBSMA products and services, appointment of a sales representative for Whittier and sponsorship of Whittier’s events including the Men’s Health Summit, Links to Women’s Health and the International Gospel Concert.

Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts Web site:

In January 2010, BCBSMA Primary Business: Health Insurance launched a new web site for multicultural consumers in English and Spanish. It helps the visitor access information on how to choose a health care plan that is best for their family, lots of nutrition and health information, and how to find a doctor. It’s very user-friendly and includes a “rollover glossary” that lets the user mouse over a term for instant definitions of commonly used health care and insurance terms. BCBSMA Multicultural Marketing asked its PR firm, Colette Phillips Communications, Inc, New England’s premier multicultural marketing firm and a 10-year vendor for the company, to create a dynamic brochure that would have applicability to multicultural consumers as well as wide appeal to crossover audiences. List the various ways your organization begins The result is a brochure that is vibrant and Multicultur al aMbassadors to understand the culture of the groups it wants informative, communicating information to reach. about BCBSMA with compassion and ex tend bcbsMa’s reach into In 2008, BCBSMA conducted a comwarmth. And while it was culturally sensitive, the coMMunit y. prehensive planning and marketing research the piece’s theme, which highlighted the study that resulted in identification and importance of family, appealed to consumers validation of the Hispanic and Africanfrom all walks of life. American market segments as areas of growth and opportunity. BCBSMA has done qualitative and quantitative studies to assess Please include any other relevant topics, innovations or ideas you would the multicultural marketplace and based on those studies, we like us to know about your multicultural marketing program. have approximations of the racial and ethnic composition of BCBSMA in 2009 developed and launched the Multicultural our membership. Many studies have concluded that there are Marketing Ambassadors initiative, a means of extending differences in outcomes and access for minorities, and collection BCBSMA’s reach into diverse communities and actively engaging is now a high priority for the state of Massachusetts and for the community. The inaugural team of 20 Ambassadors support healthcare providers. Multicultural Marketing events and activities and work in Multicultural Ambassadors extend BCBSMA’s reach into partnership on company-wide outreach efforts to build brand the community. BCBSMA also has a team of Spanish-speaking awareness and to provide consumer healthcare education, resulting Member Service Representatives and Spanish-speaking in membership growth and enhanced value for BCBSMA. representatives who regularly attend multicultural health fairs and The Ambassadors undergo comprehensive training in cultural staff the BCBSMA booth. competency and the company’s products and services. PDJ
What is your most rewarding career accomplishment?

As it relates to Multicultural Marketing, it is the ability to combine my expertise in Marketing and Diversity to achieve bottom-line results for BCBSMA while supporting our company’s commitment to being an outstanding corporate citizen.

Prof iles in Div er s it y Jou r na l

March/april 2010


Best Pr ac tices in Multicultur al Marke ting

riCh Baron

Executive Director, Customer Development Marketing

Boehringer ingelheiM pharMaCeutiCals, inC.
Boehringer Ingelheim has been committed to improving the lives of patients and their families for nearly 125 years. This commitment extends to every area of our business—including our multicultural marketing strategy. Our customers and patients represent a diverse group of generations, genders, backgrounds and ethnicities—all with their unique beliefs and perspectives. We take all of these factors into consideration, and based on the patient we’re trying to reach, we target our marketing initiatives to address these demographic and cultural differences.

Headquarters: Ridgefield, Connecticut Web site: Primary Business: Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

How does your organization use ethnic insights to drive growth?

We conduct extensive studies of different customer segments to try to understand not only how they may differ from each other, but, more importantly, what are the key attributes that define that customer? What is important to them and their families? What are their impressions of healthcare (their own, their family and the system)? With these insights we are able to design the most appropriate messages, the most relevant creative concepts, and the most impactful materials and programs.
Do you engage ethnic business partners in your multicultural marketing process? If so, how?

Once we have identified that a certain condition may be more prevalent within a particular culture, we look to partner with companies that have expertise with these segments, whether that be, for example, hispanic advertising agencies that specialize in marketing to hispanics or hispanic media agencies that can help us identify the best media channels to reach a particular population.
List the various ways your organization begins to understand the culture of the groups it wants to reach.

undersTanding The condiTion and The paTienTs affec Ted is The criTic al sTarTing poinT as we de velop mulTiculTur al c ampaigns.

We involve both internal and external sources. externally, we conduct quantitative research with customers from the target group in order to better understand their opinions regarding healthcare, their cultural preferences and norms and their perspectives related to the condition being treated. We take these factors into account when we create marketing materials and then we test these materials specifically with these groups.

in many cases, these materials are notably different than our general market materials, because they are culturally specific for the population being targeted. internally, Boehringer ingelheim has a very diverse culture so we also test concepts and materials with employee groups representing the culture we are trying to reach in order to get an internal perspective.

How does your organization show how your products or services will benefit and/or meet the needs of different groups targeted?

it’s important to understand how different diseases or conditions differ from culture to culture. for example, is the incidence of hypertension higher amongst African Americans or is the incidence of diabetes higher with hispanics? understanding the condition and the patients affected is the critical starting point as we develop multicultural campaigns. the cultural norms around family also influence our approach. for example, we know that a strong extended family is important in the hispanic culture so we may provide additional educational materials for family members in a hispanic campaign. Once a campaign is up and running we do specific tracking research against the relevant customer group (e.g., hispanic) to see how the campaign and materials resonate and then make adjustments as needed. PDJ


Profiles in Diversit y Journal

March/april 2010

Best Pr ac tices in Multicultur al Marke ting

móniCa Contreras

Assistant Vice President / Marketing & Communications

new york liFe insuranCe CoMpany
The objective of our grassroots-based multicultural marketing approach is to position New York Life as the Company of the Community. The efforts we dedicate to serve six cultural markets— African-American, Asian-Indian, Chinese, Hispanic, Korean, and Vietnamese—are driven by an understanding of the enormous importance of being “in” the community if we want to be “of” the community. In other words, to be part of one community, we must be relevant in it. We understand that the only way to achieve this relevance is by being there, at the heart of the community, with solutions and services that meet the community’s needs for financial protection, and with a network of highly qualified local agents ready to deliver them.
How does your organization use ethnic insights to drive growth?

new York Life’s hispanic market initiative is an example of how new York Life uses ethnic insights to drive growth. At 45.9 million* strong, hispanics have become the fastest-growing demographic group in the u.S., and their rapidly increasing buying power will reach $1.4 trillion by 2013.** however, they’re also one of the most underserved markets when it comes to understanding their own needs for financial protection and accessing professionals who can provide this information. this knowledge led us to expand and advance our efforts to recruit highly trained, culturally proficient agents who can provide financial recommendations to hispanic families and businesses.

this commitment to diversity and integration helps us ensure that a robust infrastructure of multicultural and product-specific marketers is in place to provide our agents with culturally sensitive sales ideas, technical assistance and product support.

Headquarters: new York City Web site: Primary Business: Life insurance

How does your organization show how your products or services will

We knew that ensuring a robust human infrastructure would not benefit and/or meet the needs of different groups targeted? suffice if it wasn’t accompanied by a serious commitment to facilitate As members of the community, our agents understand the issues relevant market data, in-language resources, and culturally sensitive that are most important to their neighbors, and this grassrootssales training to our agents, who would in based knowledge helps them deliver tailored turn pass it on to clients and prospects in the financial solutions to meet their needs. from community. We decided last year to make a service delivery standpoint, our financial by The end of 2009, we added significant investments to expand our core team professionals are not only the primary of technical experts in marketing, training, distribution point for products and services: close To 500 agenTs dedic aTed To and development, dedicated to supporting the they’re also the first, and often the only, serving The hispanic communiT y. work of existing and new agents at any stage of company representative with whom clients their career. will interact over the years. their success Our efforts are paying off. By the end of 2009, our strongest recruiting year in the hispanic Market, we added close to 500 agents dedicated to serving the hispanic community. A growing team of seasoned professionals was also in place to provide branding, advertising, and media relations opportunities, as well as marketspecific promotional activities, culturally sensitive sales know-how and a growing list of in-language materials. even further, in a year of great economic challenges, our overall sales results were significantly stronger than 2008 figures. hispanic market agents sold 22 percent more life insurance policies than the year before.
List the various ways your organization begins to understand the culture of the groups it wants to reach.

is built on the quality of the relationships they establish with the people they serve. By putting our agents in the driver’s seat of our multicultural marketing approach, we ensure that cultural competence becomes intrinsic to every aspect of our operation.
Is it important for the marketing team and front-line sales force to reflect the target markets? If so, why?

A diverse corporate culture is necessary to anticipate and serve the needs of the cultural markets we serve. in this way, our recruiting, employee training, and professional education efforts are focused on ensuring that the entire organization reflects the cultural sensitivity that’s needed to serve all of our clients.

focused recruiting is essential to ensure the success of our multicultural marketing efforts. Our agents, and the people who support their work through dedicated marketing and training, must mirror the demographics of the communities in which they live and work. More than half of last year’s recruits were women or members of an ethnic group. Also, our growing network of agents who are recruited from within their communities are the conduit through which we can gauge the market’s needs for our products, service delivery preferences, and required support through community involvement. Our growing team of marketing professionals, who work to support the efforts of all of our cultural market agents, share the ethnic, language, and/or cultural heritage that are so essential in forming enduring, trust-based agent-client connections. PDJ

* u.S. Census Bureau. ** Selig Center for economic Growth, terry College of Business, the university of Georgia.
P ro f i l e s i n D i v e r s i t y J o u r n a l March/april 2010


Best Pr ac tices in Multicultur al Marke ting

PranaB shah

Vice President and Managing Director, Global Business

united states postal serviCe (usps)
The U.S. Postal Service embraces multicultural marketing as a natural part of fulfilling its universal service mandate. Beyond that, the USPS has continued to expand its reach to better serve the unique needs of the diverse U.S. population, and has had numerous multicultural marketing and outreach strategies through the decades. Examples include the Black Heritage stamp series, now in its 33rd year, and the annual Lunar New Year stamp series. For each commemorative stamp issued, a national dedication ceremony is held that heightens social awareness, while bringing together community and business leaders. We also have product fact sheets available in 10 languages, and provide in-language customer brochures. We partner with national and local multicultural organizations, and have Spanish-speaking customer care agents available 24-7 through our toll-free information line. We’re facilitating global commerce and helping businesses grow globally, by using USPS products and services to ship internationally.

Headquarters: Washington, D.C. Web site: Primary Business: Federal Government

How does your organization use ethnic insights to drive growth?

the uSPS is in the process of deploying GrowGlobal!™ (GG!), a multicultural, smallmedium business strategy across 30 uSPS districts selected through market research for their demographic profiles and business growth potential. in fY 2009, the pilot GG! initiative launched in 10 uSPS districts, resulting in nearly 10% growth in multicultural business revenue. GG! is a broad collaborative business initiative involving both national and local organizational teamwork. Support from uSPS headquarters is provided through market intelligence, while a locally-based cross-functional collaboration model for relationshipbuilding with the Asian and hispanic SMe market is developed at the community level to focus on participating with key multicultural business organizations.
How is your organization’s senior management engaged or involved in the multicultural marketing process?

the relationships we develop with our business partners. the model focuses on building relationships within the multicultural business community through market research, country visits, communication with strategic partners overseas, trade show visits, membership in civic organizations, and multicultural recruiting practices. We also participate in joint marketing efforts with foreign posts both in the u.S. and abroad.
List the various ways your organization begins to understand the culture of the groups it wants to reach.

understanding the diverse cultures of our business customers starts when the headquarters marketing team provides cultural insight training and research resources to help employees understand the differences and unique values of various ethnicities. this guidance spurs greater cultural awareness and improvements to listening skills, which are key ingredients for building successful business relationships in a global business environment.
How does your organization show how your products or services will benefit and/or meet the needs of different groups targeted?

the uSPS customizes products to the needs of diverse audiences, including bilingual sales collateral at one-on-one meetings or Senior leadership is actively engaged a naTional dedic aTion ceremony is specific in-culture events. the Postal Service in multicultural activities throughout also identifies opportunities to better serve the organization. Our vice president of held ThaT heighTens social awareness, the diverse needs of communities, such as employee Development and Diversity while bringing TogeTher communiT y offering the Dinero Seguro money transfer is instrumental in ensuring cultural service in retail office locations with high awareness programs are integrated into and b usiness leaders. hispanic foreign-born population densities; the approaches used by the Global ensuring appropriate promotional efforts Business team as it identifies areas where convey product options to the right audience; and promoting uSPS business opportunities may exist. online shipping solutions through online media and search engines to the GrowGlobal! (GG!) initiative is an example of how hispanic and Asian business customers. Benefits to targeted groups multicultural marketing initiatives are planned, approved and include access to a variety of shipping options at competitive prices. implemented by senior management across numerous functional areas within the organization. the Postmaster General and CeO authorized Is it important for the marketing team and front-line sales force to reflect the the headquarters team to deploy GG! nationwide. the initiative target market? If so, why? is being championed by senior leadership, including the uSPS We have found it is beneficial for the marketing team to have some Chief Operating Officer and officers representing Sales, Corporate representation of the culture being addressed. ensuring all team Communications, Mailing and Shipping Services, Operations, and members honor cultural differences when working with different Customer Relations. ethnicities is critical to establishing successful relationships. Collateral

for each commemor aTive sTamp issued,

Do you engage ethnic business partners in your multicultural marketing process? If you do, how?

the key to the success of our multicultural marketing programs is

materials reflect cultural sensitivity as well. utilitizing the diversity within our organization allows us to make strong business connections with communities across the nation and around the world. PDJ


Profiles in Diversit y Journal

March/april 2010

Best Pr ac tices in Multicultur al Marke ting

osCar madrid

Director, Multicultural Marketing

verizon CoMMuniCations
Verizon’s desire is to effectively promote our great products and services in a way that appeals to our multicultural consumers, providing them access to the best in entertainment, internet and voice service. This includes providing bundled packages, relevant programming, remarkably fast internet, all wrapped in reliability and customer service that exceeds customers’ expectations. We want to ensure that we listen to and respond to what customers are asking for, and that we do it in a culturally relevant and inclusive way. Above all, we strive for a perfect end-to-end customer experience: before, during, and after the sales transaction.

Headquarters: new York City Web site:

How does your organization use ethnic insights to drive growth?

Do you engage ethnic business partners in your multicultural marketing process? If so, how?

Primary Business: Telecommunications

Consumer insight is an Just like we do with our employee base, Verizon supports and absolute must, if Verizon encourages diversity within its business partners, as well. We is to succeed with driving work with agency partners that employ diverse talent, and thus growth within the multi- ensure that we capture the best and most innovative solutions, cultural segments. We use whether they are assisting with marketing, advertising, a number of research tac- promotions or events. from a supplier diversity perspective, tics to understand customers’ needs and wants, such as primary we encourage our business partners to engage minority- and and secondary research, focus groups, syndicated research, etc. women-owned firms to support our work whenever possible. Most importantly, however, is our desire to be close to the cus- this provides opportunity for all of us to be more inclusive tomer. to demonstrate that commitment, we have made and and positions us to capture the breadth of thoughts, ideas, and sustained a sizeable investment in sales and customer service services that support Verizon’s efforts. centers dedicated to our customers with Is it important for the marketing team and frontdisabilities and our multilingual cusline sales force to reflect the target markets? tomers. Listening to the feedback from we work wiTh agenc y parTners If so, why? our employees and customers in these ThaT employ diverse TalenT, and Without question. Verizon understands centers and our retail outlets ensures we and is responsive to all of our customers’ are capturing the information we need to Thus ensure ThaT we c apTure needs by reflecting the communities we effectively respond to our customers’ reThe besT and mosT innovaTive serve, within our front-line on up to our quirements. in addition, we tap into the leadership teams. insights of our employee resource groups soluTions, wheTher The y are to aid us in these efforts. i’ll share an example. We have a

assisTing wiTh markeTing,

How is your organization’s senior management engaged or involved in the multicultural marketing process?

adverTising, promoTions or e venTs.

Our senior leadership has always supported, and continues to support, multicultural marketing initiatives—most obviously with the continued investment of resources. this commitment is further demonstrated by their “out-front” support of our multicultural initiatives; ensuring that diverse customer segments are considered at every phase of our marketing efforts—from product development, to securing content, to developing promotions, to building and strengthening our service infrastructure.

center for customers with disabilities that is staffed, in part, by employees with disabilities. their feedback and input led us to enhance our portal——to ensure that it is fully accessible for our customers with disabilities. in addition, we introduced videophone-enabled customer service for our customers who prefer to communicate using American Sign Language. Verizon supports diversity in all aspects and at all levels of its business, from recruiting to procurement, to marketing. PDJ


Profiles in Diversit y Journal

March/april 2010

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful