“The Opening of the American Mind: Intercultural Affinity Segmentation” by Mike Lakusta and Aret Ratyosyan
A profound change has taken place in the cultural landscape of the US. For the first time, a majority of America (53%) now live in a household with high multicultural influence. The foreign born population of the U.S. has quadrupled since 1960 while the percentage of those from European countries has dropped from 75% to 11%.
And even as marketers try to understand the shift in demographics, there’s another, perhaps more important shift that must be taken into consideration. The shifting of the cultural mind. Intermarriage, cohabitation, cultural openness, receptivity and proximity have transformed the face of America and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Increasingly we are all influenced by multicultural attitudes, products and trends.
The U.S.-born population of multicultural households has increased exponentially, the blending and mixing of races and ethnicities within households has become the norm for over half of the U.S. population under the age of 50. Fifty-three percent of the U.S. population under 50 now lives in either multicultural households or households that are blended.
Given the projected rise of multicultural consumers and multicultural influenced consumers in the U.S. in the decades ahead, these groups represent a significant spending power and should be high on brand marketers’ radars as the growth drivers of the future.
This can be welcome news for marketers who are seeking new opportunities and new markets. It’s also time to consider a new strategy for segmentation that takes this increasing multicultural influence into account.
A New Segmentation Strategy: Intercultural Affinity
So what’s a marketer to do?
The first step is to understand how the market is changing.
We’ve defined Intercultural Affinity Segmentation, comprised of five key segments based on mindset, behavior and opportunity:
These five segments are:
- Monoculturals: Consumers who do not experience or participate in diverse lifestyles or tastes other than their root culture.
- Sideliners: Consumers who are aware of but generally uninvolved in diverse tastes and preferences, and often experience more opportunity and less avoidance of diverse experiences.
- Explorers: Consumers who experiment with and have tried diverse tastes and preferences on a limited basis.
- Enthusiasts: Consumers who are exposed and embrace diverse tastes and preferences. They are practicing, but not leading these experiences.
- Ambiculturals: Environment and lifestyle leaders, these consumers are considered influencers with effortless affinity to diverse tastes, preferences and high desire to share experiences with others.
For example, when including culturally adjacent consumers of other races/ethnicities who are Ambiculturals and Enthusiasts, the size of the target market for a Hispanic-oriented product increases from 15.5% of U.S. households to 42.5% of U.S. households with the most efficient ROI spend.
Applications of Intercultural Affinity Segmentation
This approach to cultural segmentation helps marketers to better understand the new American landscape. It empowers CPG manufacturers, marketers, and retailers to stay ahead of future trends by identifying what intercultural consumers are buying today in order to create effective marketing strategies that resonate with consumers who are highly influenced by multiple cultures. For marketers, this means truly understanding and addressing cultural segmentation across U.S. consumers of all races and ethnicities. With this tool, doors to expanded opportunities are opened, offering CPG a broader view into measuring what resonates for the total multicultural influenced consumer–including non-Hispanic whites. This includes identifying the best distribution channels for those products, tracking marketing results by affinity across ethnic/racial groups uncovering potential cross-promotion opportunities and identifying trends in the highest intercultural affinity segments that may soon spread to all consumers.
Specific applications include:
- Maximizing the reach and impact of new and existing products
- Identifying the best channels for distribution
- Applying total market metrics to marketing strategies
- Determining tie-in products for cross promotion
- Measuring and tracking consumer response to marketing efforts
- Predicting potential future trends for all consumers through the identification of high intercultural affinity segment behavior.
Intercultural Affinity Segmentation is about majority marketing, not minority marketing. As a model, it provides a truer picture of the American mainstream.
Using the Intercultural Affinity model inside Nielsen Homescan and Nielsen Spectra, brands can aggregate consumers regardless of race and ethnicity that have shown they have the mindset, behavior and opportunity to think and buy outside of their root culture. The ability to broaden multicultural reach to a wider variety of consumers, including non-Hispanic whites, highlights new opportunities that may have been missed in the past by allowing marketers to realize and activate the true size of the multicultural prize with the most efficient marketing spend.
Marketers can now effectively activate Ambiculturals and other high intercultural affinity consumers who are most likely to be the influencers with the highest desire to share their diverse tastes and preferences and lead a product to going viral.
Mike Lakusta, CEO & Founding Partner, EthniFacts, LLC – Mike is a 35 year veteran of the Consumer Products Industry having worked on the development & growth of many brands during his management career with Procter & Gamble, E&J Gallo Winery, and major wholesalers in the adult beverage industry. His service on multicultural marketing & inter-industry steering committees confirmed the common frustration with lack of accurate multicultural research and actionable insights that led to the founding of EthniFacts. EthniFacts is a consumer insights provider focused on how culture drives consumer behavior.
Aret Ratyosyan is a Vice President of Product Leadership at Nielsen. He is a veteran of the CPG and information services industry with extensive experience in roles across client management, analytic consulting and product strategy. In his current role, Aret and his team are responsible for defining Consumer Measurement product strategy, driving growth through innovation, portfolio decisions and pursuing strategic alliances to enhance product offerings with emerging technologies.