Painted handprintsIn the early 80’s, I was working with GM dealer marketing groups throughout the country. In those days, multicultural or ethnic marketing was rarely discussed with my GM, Oldsmobile or Cadillac marketing counterparts or even car dealer clients.

In fact, even targeted marketing to females was rarely discussed and at the time they were moving fast into the workforce.  Female sales people were rare as well. The best in the country was Donna Dunnivan at Bendik Olds in Pittsburgh. Even though Donna’s success was well known nationally, dealers were slow to hire female sales people and cater to them as customers.

To build my product knowledge of the cars I was marketing, I frequently attended classes at a local GM Training Center.  I once asked a GM engineer why their cars didn’t have vanity mirrors on the driver’s side visor – most Japanese cars did – and he said it would take about three years! The funny thing was a lot of my dealers sold extra mirrors with rubber bands that you could affix to the driver’s side visors.

In those days in the car business, when you lost a sale, you lost it for about seven years minimum and maybe more if the customer was happy with her purchase.

Isn’t it amazing how marketing opportunities are all around you if you only paid attention and worked hard to maximize them!

McDonald’s has been paying attention for a long time.  Sure, they may have stumbled a bit over the years (who hasn’t?), but I’ll take their track record any day.

My first real exposure to extreme targeted marketing (seniors, moms, kids, teens, tweens, seniors etc.) and multicultural, ethnic marketing was during my McDonald’s days in the 80’s and 90’s.

I don’t profess to be an expert (does one ever truly arrive at anything to be considered and expert?), but I gained valuable insights that I bring with me to every marketing engagement and I work hard to expand my knowledge base.

Naturally, I was proud to see my old friend McDonald’s CMO Neil Golden rock the house with his “Leading with Ethnic Insights” presentation at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference (see AdAge coverage of his speech here – here’s another report – take time to read both – good stuff!).

Note: McDonald’s marketing is in good hands with Neil Golden!

McDonald’s estimates that about 40% of its core loyal U.S. business comes from the Hispanic, Asian and African-American markets, and 50% of consumers under the age of 13 are from those segments too.

A few questions for you:

  • Do you know what your ethnic population base in your core market/s?
  • Do you know how your ethnic sales mix breaks down?
  • Is your management team ethnically balanced?
  • Do you have ethnic marketing practices? Hiring practices?
  • Do you know how to manage cultural differences?

Today, with more targeted media and the internet, it’s a bit easier to market to specific groups, to communicate relevant messages, make them feel welcome, and to treat different people differently and with respect to their uniqueness.

Get out from your desk and start a multicultural marketing plan today.  I’m sure you’re leaving money on the table. Great Multicultural Marketing isn’t black and white, but it certainly is GREEN – that is, it will ring your cash register and you can take it to the bank!

P.S.: Remember Neil’s sage advice that there are, “No malls in the ghetto!” I’m lovin’ it!