Diversity Marketing:
How cultural diversity affects marketing

There is a hidden piece of any successful marketing campaign: diversity. We’ve already discussed why diversity is so important for multicultural market research. Today, we’re going to discuss exactly how cultural diversity can affect marketing. 

What is diversity marketing

Diversity basically stands for two things: variety and inclusion. Today, “customers in different cultures have different values, experiences, expectations, and ways of interacting.” And this doesn’t refer only to ethnicity – age, gender, religion, environment, and many other factors come into play. Basically, diversity marketing acknowledges that alternative ways of communicating are necessary in order to reach all these different groups. Diversity marketers need to develop different communication methods in order to reach each group in the right way, in the right channel, with the right message, at the right time. For example, you don’t communicate in the same way with a 15-year old girl from the United States than you would to a 40-year old mother of three living in suburban Australia. Even if you’re delivering the same message, they’re vastly different people that need this message delivered in a way that’s made specifically for them.

How cultural diversity affects marketing

Cultural Diversity affects marketing every step of the way, starting with planning. This is because “effective diversity marketing means adapting the message to the market, instead of trying to adapt the market to the message.” In diversity marketing, you can’t create your ad campaign first and then try to adapt to a multicultural approach. You need to plan your campaign from a multicultural perspective from the start and go from there.

A marketing strategy should always be culturally relevant. Akshata Mehta states that “for businesses that operate in more than one place, considering the cultural implications of marketing campaigns is vital to success, in terms of profits and user satisfaction.” If your message doesn’t resonate with that particular culture, your product or service won’t sell. Easy as that. 

So, you need to plan accordingly. Diversity marketing affects all the cultural considerations previous to a marketing campaign. These include:

  • Knowing your audience
  • Paying attention to details
  • Staying up to date
  • Reviewing before launching

Knowing Your audience

Understanding who your consumers are, what their dreams are, what they expect to achieve and how they want to accomplish this is absolutely crucial to running a successful marketing campaign. If you don’t know who your target audience is, you’re doomed. Cultural market research is more important now than ever before because your consumers are smart and won’t buy from a brand that doesn’t connect to them.

Paying attention to details

Values, symbols, rituals, and thought processes are a huge part of how your message is going to be received by a particular audience. A good example is a Nike commercial launched in 2004, where LeBron James battled with kung fu masters. This commercial was banned in China because it insulted Chinese dignity, deeply offending viewers. If Nike had adopted a diversity marketing approach to this, they would have realized from the start that the Chinese public needed a different type of message. 

Reviewing Before Launching

This is key. Be sure to review any sort of campaign with different cultural groups before launching. Only this way you can avoid a marketing fiasco like that unforgettable H&M campaign. Had the Swedish company run a review with different cultural groups before launching, all the damage could have been avoided. Main takeaway: review, check, and review again before launching anything at all. 

Once you have all this down, your campaign is ready to run, diversity-approved.


Cultural diversity can make or break your marketing strategy. It’s not about the message, it’s about who you’re sending that message to. If you deliver it the right way, it will resonate. It will have an impact. It will succeed. But if you botch it, you may be stuck with a marketing fiasco that will serve to educate why diversity marketing is so important in this day and age. Representation matters – and all marketers should know that by now.

This is why at Zebra Strategies we take diversity and ethnicity seriously. We tackle all our approaches with dignity, cultural competence, and direct experience. Whether it’s focus group recruiting for your next ad or online and mobile research, we have all the tools necessary to gather all the information you need before launching your next big marketing campaign. Did we spark your curiosity? You can request a quote with us here and push your campaign to the limit through quality data. 

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