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Reaching Multicultural Audiences

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 26, 2018

The New Content Omnivore Paradigm™

By Adriana Waterston
Senior vice president
Insights & Strategy, Horowitz Research

Adriana Waterston, senior vice president, Insights & Strategy, Horowitz Research

Adriana Waterston, senior vice president, Insights & Strategy, Horowitz Research

Photo: Horowitz Research

To succeed in today’s complicated media ecosystem, companies must make it a strategic imperative to cater to the needs of Hispanic and multicultural consumers and audiences.

Historically, these audiences have been the hungriest for content. These are larger households run by relatively younger heads of household that are more likely to include more children than their White, non-Hispanic counterparts. They are often multigenerational and multilingual. To keep up with their varied content needs, they are willing to use all the platforms, screens, and services at their disposal.*

The New Content Omnivore Paradigm

This creates opportunities for content creators and networks of all kinds. For example, even though much of the “buzz” and critical acclaim goes to cable, premium, and streaming shows, broadcast content, entertainment, sports, and news, still matter to multicultural and Hispanic audiences, as well as Millennials, 71 percent of whom say that broadcast TV shows are important.

But in today’s transformed media ecosystem, perception is everything. Six in 10 consumers think that streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime offer better shows than broadcasters, even though their libraries are replete with syndicated broadcast and broadcast content that drives a tremendous amount of usage

Breaking Boundaries, Resetting Expectations

Despite the continued importance of broadcast fare to audiences, the fact is that video on demand and streaming services have pushed the envelope, setting a high bar for by democratizing access to the kind of engaging, boundary-pushing content that once used to be the exclusive purview of a select few cable and premium networks.

Nowadays, genres like dystopian drama, dramas with edgy, urban themes, and narco-series (which have great appeal across all ethnic and racial groups) compete on the same platforms for audiences with more “cookie-cutter” shows like medical and police procedurals. As audiences’ tastes change, networks may need to re-shift their focus, business models, and advertiser expectations.

Horowitz Research data on Spanish-language viewing underscores the imperative to continue to innovate, and the opportunities to reach new audiences that can deliver. The Hispanic market is always in flux, with Spanish-dominant audiences broadening their viewing horizons as they learn, and become more fluent in English. One would anticipate that as that happens, Spanish language viewing will decline over time while English language viewing will increase.

Surprisingly, however, our data shows that the share of Spanish-language viewing among Bilingual and English-oriented Latinos today has actually increased over time, likely due to improvements in the quality of Spanish-language TV (Telemundo, for example, with franchises like El Señor de los Cielos and Falco), as well as increased access to quality bilingual and Spanish-language content offered in the space (Narcos and La Casa de Papel).

In our latest survey, almost nine in 10 bilinguals watch some Spanish language television, and report spending about 34 percent of their TV time with Spanish content—up from 26 percent in 2013. Indeed, providing culturally attuned content is critical. People want their stories told. About half of Latinos and Asians, and two in three Black viewers, say it’s important to have access to content created especially for them.

And, given the box office successes of movies like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and Instructions Not Included, it should be no surprise that over half of Latino and Asians, and two in three Black respondents, say that they would make an effort to check out a show that features a character or cast that looks like them. The bottom line: all of us want to hear our voices reflected in the broader context of media in a multicultural America, which is why six in 10 viewers, across all ethnic and racial groups, say that shows featuring diverse casts are more reflective of America today.

Advertising in a Fragmented Ecosystem- TV Still Reigns

In this fragmented ecosystem, knowing what medium will drive advertiser return on investment (ROI) is more challenging than ever. But, really, it’s less about choosing one medium over another and more about creating an opportunity for audiences to have a holistic, omni-channel experience with your brand and campaign.

Consumers were asked, of all the media they are exposed to in a typical day, which platform is most effective for brands. TV still reigns, with six in 10 consumers saying it is the most effective way to reach them; half saying that ads placed during streamed shows and TV product placements are effective. And, in today’s personalized environment, social media, especially organic social media relationships with customers, is critical. In the end, it’s about being everywhere your customer is, with a consistent, meaningful message.

In the social media space, Facebook still has a reach like no other social media platform. Six in 10 consumers across all segments are daily or almost daily users, compared to 29 percent who are daily or almost daily users of Instagram, 22 percent use Twitter, and 17 percent use Snapchat. Hispanics over-index for daily or almost daily usage of all of these social media platforms.

But especially among multicultural Millennials (18-34), social media usage is more fragmented, with Instagram quickly catching up to Facebook. While 62 percent of Latino Millennials use Facebook daily, 54 percent use Instagram.

Building Relationships

Just as networks need to reflect multicultural faces and stories in their content, brands too must acknowledge multicultural audiences to create resonant advertising. Almost six in 10 Latino and Black consumers, and over half of Asian consumers, say it appeals to them when a brand creates advertising with people that look like them. Across multicultural groups, six in 10 consumers (and over four in 10 White consumers) say it appeals to them when a brand creates advertising that features people of different cultures, races, ethnicities, sexualities, and family lifestyles. Among Latinos, making a meaningful connection to your audience can also mean acknowledging their bicultural, bilingual lives in content and advertising.

In today’s politically and socially polarized environment, some brands may be hesitant to create advertising that is inclusive, or to take a stand on topical issues, out of fear of alienating swaths of potential customers. But it is becoming increasingly necessary for brands to do so. For young people especially, brand perceptions are intrinsically tied to knowing (and aligning to) the brand’s values.

Thirty-eight percent of White, 40 percent of Latino, 42 percent of Black, and 42 percent of Asian Millennials say it has a positive impact on their likelihood to buy from a company whose values match theirs. Yes, backlash should be expected, but the backlash itself gives your customers a reason to not just be a consumer, but an advocate of your brand. The bottom line, as Nike just experienced, showing solidarity with your customers can have a very positive impact on ROI. Brands should not be afraid to take a stand, as long as it’s an authentic expression of a brand’s values.

To Crack the Code, Be Bold and Nimble

We face a completely transformed media ecosystem that is fundamentally changing the way people discover, interact with and feel about content and advertising. There is no going back. Indeed, we stand on the brink of ever more change. New developments in the connected home, the connected consumer, and our capability to deliver personalized advertising and messaging through artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G (mobile service) are already upon us.

Audiences’ expectations in terms of the quality and quantity of content and advertising is already high. Expectations about being able to engage with that content and those brands in ever more personalized, and more transparent, ways will quickly rise. With change accelerating, it’s critical for brands to be ahead of the curve, to get in front of trends in technology and think strategically about how to build lasting relationships with consumers.

But the message and stories needs to be authentic. The execution needs to be inclusive, and your brand values need to be transparent. For media brands and advertisers in today’s ecosystem, there’s no choice but to be bold.

Adriana Waterston is senior vice president of Insights and Strategy at Horowitz Research. She is one of the industry’s “Most Influential Minorities in Cable” by Cablefax Magazine, won the Agency Executive Award at B&C/Multichannel News’ Diversity Discussion. She co-authored The Practical Guide to Multicultural Marketing, which won the Bronze Global Ebook Award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category in 2013. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Adriana is a graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She may be reached at: adrianaw@horowitzresearch.com

*Data referenced in this article are sourced from three of Horowitz Research’s 2018 syndicated studies: State of Pay TV, State of Viewing and Streaming, and State of Consumer Engagement (in that order as they appear). More information about these studies can be found here: horowitzresearch.com/syndicated-research/