Understanding Cultural Nuance to Convert the Audience of the Future
Tamala Barksdale is the Managing Partner and Vice President of The 360 Agency, an independent Latina-and Black-owned agency with offices in Los Angeles and Houston. For over 20 years, Tamala has pioneered multigenerational strategies that resonate with and convert audiences for global brands. Her work includes breakthrough campaigns such as Dream In Black and Human by Orientation, for which she has won her clients some of the industry’s top awards. She specializes in growth and influence audiences. As a Managing Partner and the Vice President of Brand Strategy at The 360 Agency, she leverages her expertise in unraveling complex cultural and community-related issues to achieve results-driven brand strategy, strategic planning, branding and research. During her time in Texas she also represented Austin’s 1.2 million residents as an at-large, elected member of the school board. Tamala is a Texas Longhorn.
Multicultural consumers are the fastest growing group in America today -– transforming the very fabric of the marketplace and traditional advertising as we know it. Nationwide, there are nearly 300 counties where the majority of the population is multicultural. While capitalizing on cultural trends to influence storytelling is nothing new, few marketers have made the effort to delve deeper into its potential for authentic and lasting consumer connection.
Without a nuanced understanding of the cultural variances that drive people’s everyday actions, creative advertising is unlikely to resonate, connect, and convert audiences.
Data shows that cracking the code on culture translates to greater engagement, relevance, and growth for brands. An overwhelming 67% of multicultural consumers are more likely to interact with an advertisement that positively reflects their race and ethnicity. To win the multicultural audience, brands must move beyond general marketing approaches. It’s not enough to cast a Black or Hispanic family in your advertisement and call it a marketing strategy.
With over 20 years of brand theory and research experience, I’m thrilled to share features of our agency’s winning formula that has allowed us to tap into the cultural essence of what drives multicultural consumers. Doing so can foster deeper connections with your consumers and generate greater ROI for your brand.
THE POWER OF QUALITY DATA
Culture is the context and motivation behind what we say, how we say it, and the way in which we create meaning together. Culture does not belong to any one person. We collectively maintain culture through our everyday actions, purchasing decisions and expressions of self. To filter out the cultural context of consumers, marketers need quality data.
Quality consumer data is essential for capturing the full picture of multicultural experiences. In depicting the true realities of our consumers, data can push our storytelling beyond broad generalizations and cultural assumptions. At The 360 Agency, we use a proprietary dashboard of analytics to uncover cultural trends and meta narratives. We assess things like how a particular group uses technology, where they live, where they work, and how they refer to themselves in relation to a brand.
Incomplete data that fails to uncover the subtleties of culture can lead our messaging to fall flat. That is why it’s important for marketers to build teams that reflect the market it strives to connect with. When we employ a marketing function rooted in diversity, we can situate our brand within the multicultural mindset to craft powerful messaging that resonates.
THE FUTURE IS MULTICULTURAL
The consumer of today and tomorrow is multicultural. Black, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ+, and younger generations are driving a new consumer archetype that wields an incredible $3.2 trillion dollars in spending power. Without addressing this multicultural audience, you are leaving money on the table.
Multicultural audiences are trendsetters empowered by technology. They seek brands who speak to their experiences, share their values, and celebrate their unique expression of culture.
More importantly, multicultural consumers are eager to share their identity with brands who reflect their self-image – viewing brands as their personal companions in everyday life. They avidly reject being “sold to,” but instead seek to grow and achieve with brands. With this in mind, brands should strive to co-create experiences with consumers as the primary drivers of culture.
CO-CREATING CULTURE WITH BLACK MILLENNIALS TO AMPLIFY A MOVEMENT
Co-creating culture refers to the connection between a brand and the consumer lifestyle. In this reciprocal relationship, both the brand and consumer understand one another enough to work collectively to build an experience founded on the consumer’s aspirations and vision for the future.
Our breakthrough Dream in Black campaign is a prime example of how cultural insight can amplify a movement and make a greater impact on the consumer and the bottom line.
After years at #1, AT&T saw a segment slipping through its fingers, and needed a solution to regain market share with African American consumers. We overlaid our proprietary 360 geometry with powerful consumer data, and discovered that Black Millennials were creating the mechanisms to lift their own work and that of their peers in all areas of life.
In this burgeoning “New Black Renaissance,” Black Millennials were breathing new life into Black history by asserting their individuality and freedom to create and live on their terms.
Our detection of the “New Black Renaissance” sparked the concept for Dream in Black – a platform that invites Black audiences to define success and celebrate excellence in any way they choose.
Created in 2018, Dream in Black is a genuine 360, omnichannel campaign attributed with growing AT&T’s total market share. It has thrived within the AT&T workforce through programs designed to elevate Black workers, and within the community at large. Consumers have resoundingly embraced the campaign, fostering loyalty and authentic brand love for AT&T. Having exceeded expectations across sales and engagement, AT&T launched Dream in Black as an evergreen microbrand that continues to drive conversion around its products and services.
BRINGING DREAM IN BLACK TO LIFE AT THE ESSENCE FESTIVAL
The Essence Festival provided a pivotal platform for AT&T to connect and grow with the movement through Dream in Black. Recognizing Essence as a cultural pilgrimage of nearly half a million attendees, 360 set the stage for audiences to co-create and celebrate Black joy with the brand in an inclusive space.
Using a 50’x50’ footprint, we built an immersive Afrofuturistic environment that merged technology with nature. Culturally relevant artists and influencer partners teamed up to share engaging content centered around a message of celebration and contribution to the new Black Renaissance. In tying AT&T with Essence, we leveraged cultural equity for the brand to drive consumer connection and affinity in AT&T products.
If marketers hope to thrive in today’s new multicultural mainstream, they can look to co-creating culture as a valuable tool for spurring authentic connections that convert consumers.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR AN EFFECTIVE MULTICULTURAL STRATEGY
Appealing to the multicultural consumer requires demand-based strategies built upon shared values and solid multicultural insights. Without taking a nuanced approach to define your audience and messaging, brands will lose out winning the consumers of today and tomorrow. Below are best practices for how you can activate the multicultural edge to more authentically connect and convert your audience:
- Adjust your hiring practices to ensure diverse people are reflected in the research you perform and the content you create. Doing so will generate quality insights to inform storytelling that reflects consumer’s unique cultural experiences.
INTERNALIZE THE IDEA THAT CULTURE IS BOUND TO CONVERSION.
- Consumers today are savvy enough to know when a brand is simply checking the box on cultural marketing. Instead, let your data on meta trends and cultural nuance personalize your creative strategy. One way to do this is by triggering self-reference. Self-reference is an anthropological concept in which people remember information more easily when it’s relevant to them. Dial in that reference point. Make it ultra-specific. Depict real life, nuance, and substance that speaks directly to your segment.
STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND ESSENCE.
- Brand authenticity is the cornerstone of marketing today and often translates to long-term brand loyalty and growth for years to come. Once you’ve identified what matters, strive to build a shared future with your audience. Look inward to assess your brand values and how they connect to the dreams and aspirations of consumers today.
When we endear ourselves to the new multicultural consumer, we can create future forward campaigns with unlimited opportunities for brand growth and connection.
To learn more about The 360 Agency’s award-winning campaigns, contact me directly at email@example.com. For opportunities to work with The 360 Agency, get in touch with us today.