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Brands must relate to needs of more diverse target groups

Brands must relate to needs of more diverse target groups

Engaging, influencing audiences

requires deep cultural insight

Kristin J. Hooper

Senior Vice President

BCW

Kristin.Hooper@bcw-global.com

This is a particularly pivotal year for the state of diversity in the US. For the first time ever, younger generations in the US have become majority-minority. It is projected that by 2044, the entire US population will shift to majority-minority. As diversity is increasing at a rapid rate, technology, social media, global travel, music, art, fashion, spirituality, language, tradition, custom and more are traversing the world in previously unimaginable ways.

This confluence of cultural, social, and demographic shifts of seismic proportions and associated cultural fluidity, borrowing and exchange is heavily impacting self-identification, lifestyles, attitudes, and behavior absolutely and relative to expectations concerning brands, companies and their communications with the public.

Despite the fact that the world can feel overwhelmingly polarized at times, in the new reality that the US is quickly moving toward, cultural fluidity, borrowing and exchange will be at an all-time high. The consistent dismantling, reformation and exchange of culture under this new paradigm has already begun. And, it creates an environment where cultural insights emerge as the most important path that brands have to understanding, reaching, engaging with, and influencing target audiences. No longer will price, quality, or mindshare-based insights drive engagement or purchase decisions.

In this “new normal” of sorts, marketers will be ushered into an era of communications with target audiences where success is dependent upon reaching them on those audience’s terms, not the brand’s terms. From what I’ve seen with women in the personal care space, it has become passé for brands to even espouse previously winning strategies with audiences if those strategies are not built around the target audience deciding what beauty, health and wellness look and feel like on their own terms without dictation from brands.

For example, some women want to simplify their personal care regimen and be well done; other women don’t mind adding to their regimen to be overdone. Each woman wants to be the best version of herself through her own lens of what that means. She does not want to be told that “natural” is more beautiful and she should wear less makeup; she does not want to be told that being made up makes her more presentable; she does not want to be told that her hair should be short or long, blonde or brown. Instead, she craves—demands—to have agency to decide on her own terms how to present herself and how to feel about herself.

Construction of those thoughts and feelings inherently involved cultural factors emanating from cultural heritage, the cultural zeitgeist, and the cultural lens through which the target audience orients itself in the world. As a result, cultural insights and strategy are the best way to understand how to reach target audiences on their terms. Cultural insights and strategy are especially important when brands communicate with women about personal care, a category in which women couple their life experience with the internalization of the world around them. At BCW we’ve developed offerings that fully integrate the foregoing philosophies to great success.