Consider all that can influence consumer perceptions of a brand. "A brand is more than a logo, slogan or name. It is the entire experience your prospects and customers have with your company, product, or service. Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make, and the personality you convey" (Brand Strategy, 2016). Imagine how those conveyances may be interpreted (and misinterpreted) by a largely diverse audience. Companies who want to seek opportunities to serve a diverse audience are wise to forego an undifferentiated marketing strategy for a more sensitive, yet typically more expensive, multisegment marketing strategy in order to reach their intended diverse audiences. This may be more difficult for those companies accustomed to mass marketing, but the days of a mostly homogeneous market are ending.
Measuring consumer expectations versus actual experience is increasingly important. Today's consumers demand authenticity and have more research outlets at their disposal to measure perceptions of truthfulness and trustworthiness than in previous years. Market research shows consumers perception is influenced by a myriad of voices in the marketplace. Consumer's perceptions are impacted by family, friends, social media posts, online reviews, employee behavior, corporate business decisions as reported by the media, paid and/or earned media messages. Companies can no longer just stand behind a corporate message; they must live it. Employees (and former employees) post their experiences online, as do current (and past) customers. Media companies report on corporate decision-making, and some rank companies based on a variety of characteristics, like diversity efforts. Like it or not, consumer perceptions are shaped by messaging in and out of the firm's control, providing a more transparent look into the company. Consumers are demanding authenticity and it is easier than ever to determine if those companies are keeping their promises...or not.
Diversity marketing is more than adapting an existing campaign to a new market. Research predicts minority groups will comprise more than 50 percent of the American population by 2042 (Austin, 2016). Mass marketers must adjust their marketing strategies to stay competitive in this new world by creating different marketing mixes for these diverse multicultural populations. Creating multisegment marketing strategies to reach diverse audiences require more than just casting various actors in their already developed marketing communications. Diversity marketing must be truly authentic to connect to the audience and develop relationships. Understanding the way humans act and live on a global platform means taking time to conduct research with the market segment, and adapting the communication to the diverse audience based on their culture, values, language, traditions, habits, symbols, and interests.
According to the map below, in order for integrated marketing communications campaigns to be successful, companies must include diversity concepts into their promotional marketing efforts to reach an enormous array of untapped consumer potential. Understanding the changing needs of the consumer means accepting the differences in society and not letting those unique characteristics divide the market. Professionals must diversify strategies to authentically reach out to and connect with the numerous cultural subgroups. In this multi-faceted world, cultural diversity and the misperceptions experienced by many, tend to create challenges. Marketers must stimulate consumer interest on a local level in order to influence their behavior. According to Matsuura of UNESCO, "...only in this way can cultural diversity be preserved as an adaptive process and as a capacity for expression, creation and innovation" (2002).
Diversity must be fully integrated throughout the marketing campaign and top-of-mind throughout the development process in order to be truly authentic. "Freedom of expression, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the possibility for all cultures to have access to the means of expression and dissemination are the guarantees of cultural diversity" (Matsuura, 2002). Ultimately, consumers want a worthwhile experience and an emotional connection thus requiring companies to understand the diverse concerns of those audiences served within the marketplace.