Forget outdated tokenism; tapping into Melbourne’s multicultural mix can mean big business for the brands that get it right.
Companies stuck with a blinkered view of an increasingly diverse society risk selling themselves short. Consumers have a lot of choice and unless you’re relevant, they’ll move on quickly. If you can create a sense of loyalty, that’s huge, and that can only become stronger by embracing cultural diversity. It makes good social sense, but it also makes really good commercial sense.
One in four Australian households speak a language other than English at home, creating a need for marketing that reaches beyond just the white Western consumer. It’s about learning from other cultures and taking time to understand, but also this idea about fusion – taking the best bits of both to develop something new that’s relevant for the future. That takes a brand from merely having a presence to really belonging to people.
To connect with consumers in a multicultural society, companies need to consider their processes internally and externally.
Inside, a business needs to make sure it is reflective of society in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, because that helps with the thinking of the product and services delivered. The external part is about making sure that we’re relevant and tapping into different cultures. Doing that is really important because it generates opportunities to create trends rather than just follow them. It comes back to that sense of loyalty.
The way to appeal to consumers across a broad section of society is to tap into ‘fundamental’ human themes such as love and family. It’s about trying to find those fundamental truths in life that transcend cultural differences. Brands that do well find those truths that are universal.
Australia is getting there, but it’s average at best. We’re still a relatively new culture ourselves and, when it comes to marketing cultural diversity, there is still some way to go. But what’s happening is exciting. Digital and social marketing are helping us get there because brands can run ‘safer’ mass campaigns but try something else through digital.
Our client ANZ is doing well in terms of embracing cultural diversity with its super-regional push into Asia. They don’t want to have a presence in Asia, they want to have a local business in Asia – and there’s a big difference. Broadcasters ABC and SBS are also good examples. They get it. They also get to be more representative and diverse because there’s not that fear of the commercial aspect.
So, businesses need to move beyond concerns about alienating or offending customers. There’s definitely a common thread of political correctness and it comes from a place of not wanting to offend. It’s not necessarily from a darker place, but it’s a sense of: ‘Can we say this or that?’ That’s what comes from talking at someone rather than understanding where they are coming from. When you change to a two-way conversation, it removes the fear because brands understand their customers and know what they can do and say to engage.
Businesses and brands have come a long way in the past few decades with most now at various points along the right track. I can’t think of any sectors that are doing a bad job because there is that base level of awareness. But it’s about embracing that. The next stop is where we don’t even need to use words like cultural diversity, because we just have great brands that have a sense of authenticity. That idea of authenticity and that sense of understanding others is what being a good brand is all about. It comes down to why does your brand exist and how do you tell a relevant story that’s going to engage?