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Multicultural Corner by Oscar Gonzales, Ph.D.

RISMEDIA, January 22, 2009-At a time when companies should be taking bigger business development risks, their bias tends to move them in the other direction. 

Multicultural marketing has all but disappeared off the radar of many brokers, title companies, lenders and homebuilders. Keep in mind that multicultural consumers will buy regardless of economic conditions. This scenario leaves the multicultural customer segment wide open to the organization that is willing to step outside the “preserve-and-sustain” mindset and begin laying the ground work for expanding market share with a consumer base whose buying power is growing exponentially.

George S. Day, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, utilizes a series of matrixes that help map out and determine how safe an initiative is. He recommends an assessment approach that requires some digging deeply for answers. These are not unlike what we recommend in your approach to multicultural marketing.

Is it real? Figuring out whether a market exists and whether your service can be modified accordingly are the first steps in assessing a multicultural initiative.

If you have a large Hispanic, Asian, Russian, etc., population in your community, find out if they are Mexican or Cuban, Chinese or Vietnamese, and examine their age segments and median household income to develop a sound marketing plan.

Can we win? Simply finding a market doesn’t guarantee a win. The more real an opportunity is, the more the competition will begin eyeballing it as well. A common error many make is to assume that competitors will stand still while you make an entrance into a new market before they begin their own.

Is it worth doing? It is important to understand if multicultural outreach makes strategic sense for your organization and if it fits into your overall growth strategy.

Begin by analyzing the business environment to ascertain how the organization views itself in the marketplace and what the perception is of how you are viewed. More importantly, define your strategic direction.

– Determine the commitment from the organization for taking action on the multicultural market opportunity.

– Begin to describe in more detail what the future model will look like for customer acquisition, processes and competencies.

– Ensure there is a decision process for problem solving the multicultural market initiative.

– Ensure there is alignment with internal and external forces.

– Determine how much will be expended on the initiative.

– Establish a benchmark for return on investment.

– Establish a goal for the number of customers that will result from the initiative.

– Determine the company’s market share and penetration.

– Identify elements of the company that may not work well in the new environment.

Leverage the three assessments discussed to help you develop a strategy for dealing with societal and consumer changes and start bridging the economic and consumer gap you may be missing out on.

Oscar Gonzales is founder of the Gonzales Group, a business solutions and multicultural research firm for organizations in the real estate and financial services industry. For more information, please visit