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BRANDING IN A MULTICULTURAL MARKET:

By Jennifer Peterson, Marketing Director, Galaxy Bright::

Multicultural markets are a real challenge for USA based companies. How can a brand both maintain integrity and communicate the correct message in a way a multicultural audience will be most comfortable? Let's look at some facts, obstacles and case studies of companies leading the way in bridging the multicultural gap.

An article in Havana Journal written by Laurel Wentz informs us that "More than 80% of Fortune 100 companies don't have Spanish-language Web sites, and even the other 19% often fail to offer really useful Spanish-language navigation and content online, according to a recent survey by Forrester Research ... Almost 13 million Hispanics are online. Mr. Rogowski said that about 42% of the online population is Spanish dominant, 26% is English dominant and 31% are bilingual."

Toggling between languages is important. "A user may begin in English but want to switch to Spanish as information becomes more complex, such as figuring out which checking account to sign up for." The Toyota vehicle website at www.toyota.com/echo is a good example. On the site under Echo, the Echo information is viewable in English with a link to En Espanol. However, once chosen the navigation takes the viewer to the home page for Toyota in Spanish and not to the Echo info at all. The visitor must then start the search over from this home page to find the Echo info in Spanish.

Due to the limitations of technology, brand integrity, best marketing practices, and so forth, the top companies are currently not offering the ability to toggle between languages that their multicultural audience would like. However, through visuals, brand elements and messaging a company can speak directly to those cultures, living in the USA, who may prefer their native tongue or the language of their family.

There are some very easy steps that can be made in regard to a foreign language audience. To start with, a company can sponsor an event to draw a specific demographic, hire an excellent native speaking translator for a brief speech/Q&A, and have some great gifts to send the audience away with. Event photos, quotes, or even streaming video can be used on their website, enewsletters, printed collateral, bill boards, etc. One well organized event, with everything from gifts, samples, and even food can put a company on the road for success with this desired demographic.

A great example of this is Johnson and Johnson. They have joined a new Hispanic outreach program that visits Wal-Marts and local fiestas in a mobile marketing truck. The Hispanic neighborhood is greeted with Spanish music to draw in the crowd, along with advertisements for the Johnson and Johnson and partner company lines, with samples and even some health testing.

Using this approach, Johnson and Johnson, as well as all companies, can maintain the integrity of their brand and still connect with the valuable multicultural consumer.