We live in what is widely recognised as one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world. A third of Australians were born overseas, a fifth speak a language other than English at home, and two-thirds say the best thing about Australia is its diverse, multicultural population.
But even as companies increasingly embrace multiculturalism and inclusion, many fail to capitalise on the commercial benefits of putting diversity at the heart of their marketing strategy. Often Australian brands lack the understanding to win the hearts (and wallets) of this fast-growing, significant market sector – the multicultural consumer.
Avoiding tokenism, and making a real connection
Reaching multicultural markets takes more than just putting an ‘ethnic’ face in your advertising, which can come across as a box-ticking gesture. And having an ethnic person in-house translate some communication or give advice on your cultural strategy won't cut it either. Either tactic can result in your marketing falling apart before it’s even had the chance to take off.
To successfully integrate diversity into your marketing strategy, you have to understand which multicultural communities hold the greatest potential for your brand, how they tick, what influences and impacts them, and how your brand can meet their needs. In a market that’s increasingly individualised, and across a fragmented media landscape, language and culture are among the few identifiers that allow brands to connect with a community.
Making your brand a beacon in a turbulent time
Culture is often a unifying force when migrants come to a foreign country, helping them find their place in their new home. Though open to the new experiences, they look to maintain their roots and connection with their culture. It doesn’t define them, but does create a sense of belonging. This is where their community members and influencers become key. Today, technology provides a seamless bridge within and across international borders, and rates of technology adoption and usage are higher among many multicultural communities.
When you think about the migrant settlement journey, think of the impact your brand can have during this unnerving time. New multicultural consumers seek familiarity from language, connectedness and cultural understanding, and this gives your brand an opportunity for real cut-through. Get it right, and you've set the foundation for building an authentic, long-term positive affiliation with your brand.
Learning lessons from Australia's Chinese community
People of Chinese background make up Australia's largest multicultural population, at more than 1.2 million members. Along with the 1.4 million Chinese travellers that visit our shores each year, this market segment holds strong spending power, embraces new technologies and products, and gravitates to popular trends.
But these consumers' shopping habits and media consumption differ from the wider community, right down to how they engage with media. The social platform WeChat dominates their online world, with more than over 3 million users in Australia. Yet most Australian marketers still rely on Facebook and Twitter for social campaigns.
Building a brand presence and position amongst local Chinese people can open doors beyond the Australian market. Just look at how Chemist Warehouse tapped into booming China’s e-commerce industry, demand for provenance and affinity for Australian brands.
In 2015, Chemist Warehouse launched their Chinese e-commerce presence in time for Alibaba’s Single’s Day, the world’s largest online shopping event, becoming the first merchant on Tmall to reach 10 million yuan (AUD1.96 million) in sales – in only 46 minutes. And in JD.com’s recent 618 Festival, Chemist Warehouse was the top seller on Tmall on the festival's first day. They’ve continued to reap the benefits from a strong cross-border focus, underpinned by the popularity of the brands they sell among Chinese Australians and in the broader Australian market.
Bold action can bring big rewards
Now more than ever is the time to broaden your diversity strategy and look beyond traditional markets. Seize the opportunity to engage multicultural consumers through collective passion points, where they're receptive to your message. If you can connect with migrants at key touch points in their settlement journey with a message built on cultural understanding and insight, not just a visual representation, you have a greater chance of being unforgettable in an increasingly ignorable advertising environment.
Agencies need to work with their clients and ensure their campaigns are culturally sensitive and resonate with the new audiences, through a greater understanding of who they are, how they interact in the brand category and in what environment.
The changing nature of Australia’s multicultural identity provides uncertainty for agencies, but it also presents opportunities for those brands ready to take the challenge. Taking a leap of faith could reap benefits beyond what they thought possible.