Everywhere you look, you see it -- and there's no escaping it. By 2013, Hispanics will account for more than $1.4 trillion in purchasing power in the U.S. Add African Americans to the equation, the numbers almost double, as they will contribute an additional $1.1 trillion in spending power by the year 2015. Both of these segments are younger and growing at a faster pace than their white counterparts. Multicultural Americans are, in effect, what some have coined the "new American mainstream."
In a world where digital is now the baseline for consumer engagement, answering the question of how to effectively engage this "new American mainstream" has only grown more complex. It's no longer a question of if, but simply when will your team be asked to engage these powerful consumer segments. But how do these audiences behave digitally? This is where it gets really interesting:
- By 2014, more than 39 million Hispanics will be online, accounting for almost 70 percent of total Hispanic population, and at growth rate of 32 percent, almost four times that of non-Hispanic white only users online.
- 45 percent of Hispanics have smartphones versus 34 percent of the general population.
- 51 percent of African Americans own smartphones versus 45 percent of the general market. African Americans are also more frequent users of social media.
These stats provide just some of the serious reasons "why" you should engage. However, my goal here is to help you understand "how" to engage the "new American mainstream." So, below I have compiled three best-in-class sites that successfully answer the challenge of how to connect culturally, and I detail how that effort has helped move the needle for their business.
NBA.com -- Éne-Bé-A
Yes, Hispanics do more than just soccer, and the NBA is proving it with their Éne-Bé-A platform. Witnessing a decline in their Hispanic viewership and fan base in 2008-2009, the NBA needed to find a way to reach and engage with U.S. Hispanics. Through research, the league would find that in order to engage with Latinos, it needed to do so from a culturally centric standpoint, but not by singling out Latino fans by language or ethnicity alone (like the creation of spin-offs of NBA Latino or NBA en Español).
Instead, it needed a more organic way to deliver greater cultural relevance to their fans. The use of colloquialism proved such a way when the NBA learned that instead of pushing the NBA brand, they could leverage an existing cultural reference in éne-bé-a to draw greater ap-peal for the brand. This allowed the league to reinvent the brand from within the Hispanic space versus taking a top down approach towards engagement.
Delivering an authentic Hispanic NBA experience, the site greets visitors in Spanish language upon entry and serves as a one-stop landing zone for NBA fans. From custom content featuring Hispanic imagery and video to social media engagement and the NBA Store, a Latino fan can easily use this as their home for all things NBA.
Social media lies at the very core. Today, the Éne-Bé-A Facebook fan page holds over 400 thousand Facebook fan "likes." But they have also added multiple social media networks including Twitter, MySpace, QuePasa, and MiPágina.
Leveraging cultural insights like this helped deliver Hispanic viewership growth of 17 percent during the 2009-2010 season and a fan base increase of 9 percent by December 2009.
AdColor Industry Coalition -- Adcolor.org
While the previous site focused on direct-to-consumer efforts, I wanted to provide an example of a cause marketing effort that uses the same approach.
Since 2005, the AdColor Industry Coalition has served as a beacon for thousands of multicultural professionals working in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. Its mission is to support and inspire professionals of color and diversity, and it celebrates their accomplishments as multicultural professionals.
Now there is a lot more to AdColor than a site, but it's digital hub serves as an online center where users can learn, share, and register for its conference and annual award show. Social media here again plays a pivotal role, as it serves as the backbone of the site with a live feed on its main page that includes partner feeds, but offers something different than most. Understanding the power and influence of association and how that plays a role in career advancement (where who you know can say a lot about you and your relationship building talents), it allows users to tweet directly from its site. It's a unique feature that not many other business leagues use, but when used correctly, it adds "virality" to the site.
The driving insight here is how the AdColor site is built on key values and behaviors that are intrinsic to multicultural professionals: the "who you know" factor, success, and affluence, but most importantly, standing for a cause that is right -- diversity and inclusion. With the lack of diversity in corporate boardrooms at an appalling rate, young minority professionals are taking notice. The AdColor site serves as a launching pad where young professionals can find excitement and inspiration within a career that is unique to their own experiences as multicultural professionals.
The organization has grown since 2005 from what was once just an award show dinner addition at an existing industry conference to now a full business league hosting its own industry conference. This year's conference will be hosted October 18-20 in Las Vegas, where it will feature and honor some of the industry's best and brightest multicultural minds. Much of the organization's success lies in its ability to not only build great relationships, but in also leveraging its digital DNA to spreading its message and fan base. For example, award show attendance alone has grown over 300 percent from its inaugural event.
American Airlines -- BlackAtlas.com
Witnessing the uptick of travel amongst African American's, American Airlines sought to capture this affluent traveling segment and position itself as the airline of choice for African American travelers. Its site BlackAtlas.com serves as the main point of African American consumer engagement as an online community filled with unique, custom content for black travelers.
As video blogs anchor the site, the popular author, filmmaker, and world traveler Nelson George was tapped to serve as the sites host and travel expert. Visitors can see and share George's experiences as he travels the world and highlights unique places that are culturally relevant for Black travelers -- like where you can find Jamaican food in Milan.
Now, although the jury is still out on the sites ability to deliver sales, I think it's well deserving of recognition, considering how the site focuses on leveraging cultural insight to drive its content generation across their site and social media. They are honing in on the right cues to provide culturally relevant storylines that matter to African American audiences.
I hope these examples help provide you with a better understanding of how to engage the "New American Mainstream," because if you're not already, you may very well soon be. And if you do not, you will certainly be missing out.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"The word Diversity" image via Shutterstock.