Multicultural marketing may be officially dead (or more important than ever), but one thing is certain: smart marketers focus on culture. Three things they know and you should too…
Sometimes people have the view that with enough data you can target anyone effectively, thereby removing the need to appeal to the audience’s culture. How can we continue to recognize the importance of culture in this technology-driven age? “Culture influences commerce. There is a recurring tendency among business leaders to take culture for granted. But culture is embedded in everything, and thus when culture changes everything is affected,” J. Walker Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer, Brand & Marketing at Kantar Consulting tells Portada.
“Culture is how people live. Technology is simply a tool people use to engage with culture. Technology is not unimportant. It’s just not the context of life that is the root source of aspirations, expectations, and values. That’s culture.”
3 Things Brand Marketers Who Focus on Culture Know About
“Periods of change are when culture gets noticed most, but it never goes away. The smartest marketers keep culture on the front burner. Lagging marketers ignore culture, so they are always behind change and new opportunities, ” Kantar’s J.Walker Smith adds.
Savvy marketers who focus on culture make sure to take into account the below three key considerations.
1. It’s Decision Science (Not Data Science)
Smart marketers who keep culture as a key priority know that ultimately data insights are there to base decisions on. That is why it is crucial that data scientists work in close coordination with brand marketing decision makers (who ultimately have the budgeting power.)
2. Marketers who Keep Culture on the Front Burner Run a Business Unit (NOT a Center of Excellence)
Data teams and cultural intelligence teams need to be embedded into the overall marketing organization. They should not act as consultants who have no real decision-making power (e.g. the Hispanic Centers of Excellence that some companies have set up are commendable initiatives but often don’t impact real marketing decision-making). The best is to integrate cultural insights into overall data analysis and marketing decision-making. For example, Curacao, a department chain store with locations in California, Nevada and Arizona which ranks among the top 100 electronics and appliance retailers in the U.S., makes sure to take into consideration cultural insights as part of the whole marketing mix. Curacao has a team of data scientists that look at purchasing behavior and take into account culture by looking at consumers in the following way:
– Bilingual – Hispanic
– English-General Market
Another alternative to make sure that data insights and marketing budgets are aligned is by creating a business unit. Pepsi created a Hispanic Business unit in 2018 (a move somewhat contrary to overall U.S. marketing trends). Esperanza Teasdale, VP & General Manager at PepsiCo’s Hispanic Business Unit, tells Portada, that her Hispanic business unit independently determines strategy , commercial tactics and, most importantly has a dedicated advertising and marketing budget. Teasdale is responsible for the overall Hispanic strategy, engagement and sales for the Hispanic business within Pepsi North America Beverages.
“We also have our own data team, which is responsible for analyzing the Hispanic business today. That is how we measure performance. Another part of the team analyzes consumer insights. E.g. segmentation. Their worked helped to provide a perspective of Hispanics that goes beyond years in the country and language and is more in the mindset of the target, ” Teasdale adds. This helped Pepsi to come up with “Es lo que quiero“, the Hispanic adaptation of the recently released tag “That’s what I like”.
Marketers in the Portada Council System voted for the topic “Why data scientists need to be culturally sensitive; A brand marketer’s perspective” as the keynote topic for the upcoming Portada Los Angeles, April 2 conference. The topic selection highlights how important it is for brand decision makers understand the cultural implications of the data insights process.
3. Marketers who Focus on Culture Check Data Quality (DMP’s and DSPs)
The smartest marketers who keep culture on the front burner also know that data quality is key, particularly when it comes to cultural insights. Data management platforms (e.g. Blue Kai, LiveRamp and others) and demand side providers do not always provide solutions that capture cultural nuances. “For DSP’s and DMPs to have data on particular consumer targets, they need to identify and code them separately. Only this way you can get information/insights back,” an industry insider tells Portada. The issue is that DMP’s and DSP’s often don’t do that extra mile, because they are not paid to do it.