Going Beyond The Creative: How Important Is It To Identify The Multicultural Consumer Journey?
Marketing is all about creating a connection, and minority consumers are a testament to that. A study has found that 53% of the UK’s BAME population prefer to buy from brands that they feel accurately represent their culture, while 51% say they would be more likely to purchase from those brands. Of all respondents, 48% said that they would prefer to buy from brands that champion diversity in their advertising.
But crafting a marketing strategy that truly resonates with minority demographics is more complex than incorporating the occasional nod to a specific cultural background. Identifying each minority group’s consumer journey and, most importantly, the factors that shape it, is the key to a successful campaign.
Culture And The Consumer Journey
Several studies have established a close link between an individual’s cultural background and their consumer behaviour. The former – consisting of their upbringing, values, perceptions and attitudes – are all key elements that play into how they are expected to behave as consumers. Identifying cultural or religious factors that could impact how their target audience is likely to consume their product is essential for brands. For example, understanding dietary restrictions linked to faith, important religious holidays, or typical family dynamics within a demographic, will provide insight on if, how, when and why a certain group will engage with a brand.
Predicting a consumer’s behaviour is not easy, and while cultural values play an important role, the extent to which this is the case will vary depending on the individual. However, cultural researchers generally consider six categories: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long Term Orientation, and Indulgence, each of which belongs to Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory.
Some relevant cultural influences in consumer behaviour can be relatively simple to identify. The Japanese tend to avoid anything with the number 4 in it, as it is considered unlucky and India is a country of savers. The Dutch appreciate uncluttered and easy to navigate websites and dislike over-the-top messages. On the other hand, foreign migrants find it hard to adapt their consumption patterns to that of the host country, as conflicting cultural practices can influence their shopping habits.
The Chinese Model
In order to understand how cultural variations can affect an individual’s consumer behaviour, we will look at the case of e-commerce for Western and Chinese consumers. With roughly 632 million active internet users, China represents the world’s largest market for e-commerce. Back in 2015, it was estimated that there were already more than 350 million online shoppers in the country, with total sales making up 3.2% of the national GDP.
While e-commerce in the West was marketed as a more convenient alternative to traditional shopping, it’s more about providing the consumer with a broader range of options in China. While Western platforms like Amazon prioritise a fast and smooth shopping experience, Chinese platforms are optimised to keep visitors continuously engaged and entertained.
This is because the average Chinese consumer visits an e-commerce website without a clear idea of what they want to buy. Product suggestions based on a user’s search or purchase history are offered, just like on Western websites. But what makes Chinese platforms different is that, by using data such as social interaction and location, and employing analytics, artificial intelligence and personalisation, the shopping experience becomes more customised. The ultimate goal is to make the user buy things they didn’t know they needed.
Another key difference is that the Chinese user rarely has an e-commerce platform as their destination. Instead, they discover new brands and products through an extensive variety of content shared on digital channels such as social media, music videos or online tutorials. This follows a “buy what you see” strategy, as online content regularly includes embedded purchase links that take the user directly to an e-commerce product page.
The Smallest Details Can Make The Biggest Difference
Even in today’s highly globalised world, relying on a generic approach to target diverse consumers is a big mistake. Whether cultural differences are more evident, like the Dutch and their appreciation of straightforwardness, or more underlying, like the Chinese online shopper behaviour, having this type of insight is essential to the success of any multicultural marketing campaign in the UK or beyond.