There Is No Total Market Here or Anywhere

Total market! Are you kidding me? Are we going back to the 60s?

Let me take you back in time just to remind you how far we’ve come in multicultural marketing and the possible detrimental consequences in brand and cultural consumer relationships should we return to this nonsensical marketing concept.

Global Product Positioning

Back in the 60s U.S. products were positioned through a global marketing strategy throughout the world, a homogenous approach effective enough to sell a widget in every country due to limited competition. In the 80s multinational corporations turned to international-regionalized marketing strategies to better serve the needs of a changing consumer world and broader competition. Nowadays, the same companies are maximizing the opportunity through an in-country positioning strategy. The latter emerged as a need for recognizing the unique differences of consumers, including culture, language, spending habits and most importantly, understanding the process as to how these individuals build relationships with brands.

Multicultural Consumer Trend

What we see happening internationally is no different than what we are currently experiencing in our own turf at the micro level. If companies had to funnel down their strategies to meet the in-country consumer on their own terms, there is no reason for these companies not being able to do the same as it relates to the multicultural consumer here in the U.S. This is a trend that is inevitable here or anywhere within highly industrialized and internationalized economies.

Products are many, brands are few. Branding is not about products anymore, it’s about relationships with consumers and what these brands allow consumers to be. This being the case, one cannot presume that the core values of an individualistic society such as the U.S. will be embraced by a collective one much like the multicultural sub-culture of the U.S. including Latinos and Asian Americans. This also goes to the mind-set of some other sub-cultures like African Americans and the gay and lesbian segment.

Avoiding Detrimental Consequences

Going back to a total market approach within the U.S. consumer market is essentially emphasizing the importance of one culture over the other. This ethnocentric approach will ultimately provoke a negative reaction from multicultural consumers toward brands. The end result could be complete brand disengagement.

Whether it is accepted or not, the incremental growth of the multicultural consumer market in the U.S. is challenging the way brands communicate with them, as these individuals regardless of demographic characteristics, are reshaping brand and customer relationship. In fact, these multicultural segments are overlapping onto U.S. individualistic customs with a collective view of life and by doing so they are redefining American core values, media usage, language, gender roles, religion, family structure and so forth.

The risk of brand and customer disengagement will eventually happen if this homogeneous approach is resuscitated. From my school of branding, this is ineffective marketing 101!

So, does it make sense to go back to the cookie cutter approach?

The incremental growth of the multicultural consumer market in the U.S. is challenging the way brands communicate and engage with them. It is time to develop decentralized branding strategies to get to them in their own terms. Say goodbye to the strategic cookie cutter approach, the 60s are long gone.

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