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Learn From Casinos: Multicultural Marketing to Tap America's Growth Markets

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We've known for some time now that one-size-fits-all marketing is dead. But that shift has left companies scrambling to identify an effective, targeted approach to marketing to specific customers. And it's an understandable problem. Targeting a niche too small will cut out too many paying customers, and targeting a segment too large will scatter brand messaging across the board.

American casinos are living out this dilemma right now. New casino development has moved away from the traditional hubs in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, leaving them to compete on a national scale for customers who have been slowing their spending overall. On top of that, Caesars Entertainment has gone bankrupt, and more and more customers are choosing to gamble online.

Fortunately, there's one approach that casinos—and other brands—can use to target a large segment of customers without ostracizing the rest: multicultural group advertising.

Multicultural Group Advertising in Casinos

It might seem like ethnic advertising is made up of a jumble of outdated stereotypes, but the data says otherwise. In the case of failing casinos, there's evidence that the ethnic consumer has a proportionally higher propensity to gamble and makes up the majority of populations in all major urban feeder markets. Asian-American, Hispanic, and African-American consumers all provide real growth opportunities for this industry.


What's more, hubs like Las Vegas and Atlantic City still see significant growth from the international consumer. As much as 19% of Vegas' revenue is from international travelers—mainly from China and Latin America.

These customers don't just come to Las Vegas for the casinos; they want the entire experience, from luxury shopping to unique dining to flashy shows. Casinos can tap into these specific ethnic markets by creating international strategies that appeal to customers who love experiencing something different from what they're used to.

How to Target Your Marketing Toward Various Cultures

Casinos aren't the only businesses that can benefit from ethnic group marketing, though. Here are four things you should consider when driving growth through ethnic marketing.

1. Analyze opportunity based on your numbers

Go through your own databases to determine relative levels of contribution, speak to your distributors or front-line sales force, and analyze syndicated research to get beyond stereotypes of product usage and attitudes.

When a major Las Vegas casino first came to us, we saw that a particular ethnicity was responsible for a significant amount of the company's growth. Seeing this trend gave the casino permission to act. And once committed to action, it deployed ethnic marketing throughout the marketing mix.

2. Secure leadership buy-in

If there's no leadership buy-in, this marketing opportunity will never take off. True leaders will recognize that in a soon-to-be minority-majority country, ethnic consumers are integral, not incremental, to the American consumer market.

Leaders need to define growth within ethnicities as an objective, open their books, and analyze their numbers. If they see a trend, it needs to become a growth objective for the company.

Marketers then need to take that on and execute. It becomes their job to find the right partners; develop the right communication strategy, media strategy, and tactics; and bring the effort to market.

3. Test in the market

Don't let a desire to be "perfect" get in the way of starting. Choose a region or a product, and begin to invite these diverse consumers to experience your brand. But do it in a way that gives a test a fair chance of succeeding. Collect initial results to help you understand how and why your marketing is (or isn't) working, tweak your strategy, and move forward.

For instance, a major household brand came to us for market testing because it saw that there were different ethnic groups that over-indexed on some products, but the brand didn't know what to do about it. The way forward was to test specifically designated marketing areas within the general population of the ethnic groups. Doing that will allow you to test out ethnic marketing on a small scale without committing your entire product line to an update.

4. Incorporate ethnic marketing into your overall strategy

During the next planning cycle, challenge managers to quantify the number of potential consumers not being reached by the "general market" communications platform, and demand that they propose strategies to remedy that deficit of eyeballs. Send them back to the drawing board if they gratuitously propose a weak and ineffective "test" that would never be approved for non-ethnic opportunities.

The answers might be as simple as adapting some existing creatives for use in cost-effective ethnic media. For example, there are some nights in San Francisco when a Mandarin-language soap opera can outperform a network TV show, thus delivering incremental new consumers for pennies on the dollar when CPMs are compared.

* * *

If your brand isn't seeing enough growth and engagement, targeting specific ethnic and international markets might be the breakthrough you've been waiting for. Run the numbers, do the research, and try it out to see whether you can tap into a new market that drives more business.


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Luba Tolkachyov is a co-founder of Gravity, an award-winning advertising agency focused on cultural marketing, and an Inc. 500 company two years in a row.

LinkedIn: Luba Tolkachyov

Twitter: @lubat

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  • by Phil Thu Jan 14, 2016 via web

    Isn't racial profiling bad?

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