As the owner of a Strategic Marketing and Business Development firm that specializes in multicultural markets, I am constantly looking for ways to better serve our clients. Corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors often struggle with understanding where to start with their multicultural efforts and still be cost-efficient and effective. Thankfully, my experience working for Spanish-language magazines prior to becoming an entrepreneur has allowed me the opportunity to guide and inform URBANDER clients about how to best harness the impact of diverse consumers on their businesses. Now more than ever, it has become imperative for brands to be adept at speaking to customers in their language of preference and recognizing the value they place on cultural intelligence as part of the engagement process.
For the past 30 years, I have experienced and studied U.S. Census data to tell the story of the importance of cultural competence and linguistic proficiency in business. It’s surreal to look back and remember when Hispanics were approximately 12% of the population, and we were forecasting that this market segment would grow to be 20% (1 in 5 Americans) by now. And here we are. Hispanics and Latinos, (which includes people of any race) reached 62.1 million in 2020—growing 23% in 10 years. And for the first time in history, the White non-Hispanic population decreased to under 60% of the total U.S. population. In addition, the 2020 Census reported that the multiracial population of the U.S. changed exponentially since 2010—from 9 million people then to 33.8 million now, reflecting a 276% increase.
So, it begs to ask: Where do I start? How do I responsibly incorporate a multicultural and multilingual approach to how I work, live, and play in my marketplace?
The following are three steps to begin the journey of aligning your business with the demographic shift that we are experiencing:
Do your research. When you know the demographic profile of your customers and their preferred languages, you can be intentional and strategic as you grow or expand your business. If you do not conduct the necessary research to figure out their exact concerns, perceptions, needs, preferences, and expectations, you will be off the mark with every strategy you try to implement.
Assess and benchmark your workforce. Representation matters, and customers are becoming more vigilant of the demographic profile of your employees, their language abilities, and degree of cultural knowledge. Consumers are attracted, and respond more favorably, to brands that properly represent their cultural identity. Investing in developing a team that can address diverse audiences authentically is paramount.
Take action and calibrate as you go. As business leaders we oftentimes suffer from “paralysis by analysis” which affects our bottom line because the longer we delay, the longer it takes for us to reach the next level of success. You can start by figuring out your company’s most evident voids (i.e., certifying language proficiency of multilingual staff, securing proper multicultural marketing support, hiring diverse talent, cultural competency training, translation services, etc.).
Understanding the culture, values, traditions, norms, lifestyle, history, beliefs, media consumption habits, gender identities, and language preferences of your customers will allow your business to reach its fullest potential by establishing a bond with our increasingly diverse U.S. population. Plus, you will foster an organizational culture that encourages the exploration of new ideas and perspectives, impacting people’s lives and how they interact with each other in society.
Are you ready to take the first step? Why not certify your multilingual employees’ language proficiency? LTI makes it easy. Learn more here.
Want to hear more from Sami? Listen to her interview with LTI here.