Ethnic marketing

With a whopping 11.8% of the Irish population coming from abroad, it’s no surprise that brands are looking for new and innovative ways to target this demographic. Those of you who have visited Ireland will know that the Irish are famous for welcoming foreigners with open arms, which is why diversity has been able to flourish there. With such an eclectic mix of nationalities living side by side, it might seem simple enough to have one marketing campaign for everyone living in Ireland, but to really succeed you’re going to need to break things up even further. And this is where ethnic marketing comes into play.

What is ethnic marketing?

Ethnic marketing and international marketing are two very different concepts. Ethnic marketing (also known as multicultural marketing) focuses on targeting a particular group living away from home, whereas international marketing is targeting a particular country and their native population. Using Ireland as an example, ethnic marketing would mean having one marketing campaign targeting the native Irish population, and another one targeting Brazilians who live there. It may seem like a lot of work, but results show that 86% of all localized campaigns outperform their English counterparts in terms of both conversions and click-through rate, the number of people clicking on an ad.

How does it work?

Now, you’re probably wondering what ethnic marketing has to do with localization. Ethnic marketing is the perfect opportunity for localization companies to bridge the gap between marketing and translation. Marketing managers lack the global knowledge to really ace multiculturalism, unless they’re from a massive corporation with marketing people around the world. Realistically, though, marketing is either outsourced or handled by a small in-house marketing department without the time or resources to invest in these kinds of campaigns, even though it means missing out on extremely impressive returns.

As a language service provider (LSP), you’ve probably come across the hurdle of getting companies to invest in localization. Your sales people can give prospects statistics on the benefits of localization, but more often than not they lack an actual monetary value that decision makers can really relate to. If you can prove that localization results in return on investment (ROI), selling your services is going to be a lot easier. And this is where getting into the mindset of a marketing manager comes into play.

Before we touch on how to prove localization equals ROI, you’re going to need to learn more about ethnic marketing. Those of you who have dealt with marketing before will already have the perfect building blocks ready to start a campaign, but for those of you who don’t have much experience, no worries — we’re going to start at the very beginning. And to do this, we’re going to use Ireland’s largest ethnic group as our starting point: the Poles. Polish is not only spoken by 55 million people worldwide, it’s spoken by 22% of all foreigners in Ireland, and it’s the second most spoken language in the UK. Poland has also been named as one of the three fastest growing economies in the European Union so what better place to choose!

Ethnic marketing strategies

Marketing is all about messages. And culture has a massive impact on the way messages are perceived. In order to succeed in advertising, you need to pull on your buyers’ heartstrings, and connect with them emotionally. Plus give your buyers a local feel. With language and emotions so closely linked, advertising to a particular group in their native language is going to resound with them so much more than if you were planning on marketing to them in the native language of wherever they’re living.

So, how does ethnic marketing work? To put it simply, it works just like every other marketing campaign but much more targeted. Here are some points to focus on:

Message: As we already mentioned, marketing messages resonate differently with different cultures. When targeting a particular group, like the Poles, you need to know what makes them tick, and most importantly what doesn’t. The Czech Republic actually got in Poland’s bad books a couple of years back when a very famous company launched a TV ad that poked fun at Polish products. While Czechs found it hilarious, it actually caused a diplomatic row between the two countries and in the end, the ad had to be taken off air. This is why it’s so essential to keep cultural sensitivities in mind when preparing your marketing messages — and this is where marketing managers really need an LSP’s help. Marketing managers lack the cultural knowledge to know what works in different countries, which gives translation companies the chance to really prove their worth and partner up with their client, advising them on what works and what they should avoid.

Religious holidays: While many brands prefer to stay away from religion, religious holidays are something that can’t be ignored if you’re looking to implement an ethnic marketing campaign. While many European countries share the same religion, their customs and the way they celebrate can end up being completely different. Poland and Ireland are both extremely Catholic countries, but their traditions are the complete opposite. Take Easter, for example. While Irish children will be enjoying chocolate Easter eggs, Polish children will be painting beautiful hard boiled eggs. If you stock your shop with the special egg dye used by Polish families, and then release some Polish marketing messages, you’ll not only increase your shop’s footfall during Easter, you’ll also become known as the go-to place for Poles to shop.

Traditions: Just like religious holidays, traditions vary vastly from place to place, even if they’re close. If you take a look at the UK and Ireland, they share a language but their national holidays and traditions are completely different. Moving back to Poland, Poland’s culture is so rich it’s full of fascinating traditions that mesmerize almost any foreign visitor able to experience them. Polish weddings are famous for being a three-day drinking fest with plenty of homemade goodies available (and alcohol too). If you’re in charge of marketing for one of Ireland’s most chic wedding venues, knowing that you understand Polish traditions is going to make you the place to go for Poles planning a wedding.

You can also take cultural marketing campaigns a step further by rolling out campaigns for certain national holidays or days of the year. Ask your translation agency about different days to look out for. If you’re a bakery, or work for one of the big supermarket chains, you could use Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek). If you stock up with plenty of donuts and do a special buy-one-get-one-free offer for Polish customers (in Polish, of course!), you’re going to quadruple your sales. Remember, people living abroad love having the opportunity to share their culture and reminisce about traditions back home.

Channels: One other important point to note is that each country has their own digital behavior. In Poland, the most-utilized social network is YouTube, commonly used by 64% of the population. This is closely followed by Facebook at 61%. 16% use and only 15% use Snapchat. In Ireland, however, Snapchat is by far the biggest social media platform, with 1.75 million users daily, which is more than Facebook and Instagram. In Germany, you wouldn’t get anywhere using LinkedIn; you’d have to use XING, which is their equivalent. As you can see, having this local knowledge can really make or break your marketing strategy.

The value of ethnic marketing

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone in Ireland has really tapped into the nitty gritty statistics of ethnic marketing, but to give you a better idea of why it’s so important, we thought we’d share this one from over the pond in the US. The total multicultural spending power in the US is upward of $2.4 trillion, which really speaks for itself. It’s no wonder that brands are looking to get a piece of the pie. With hardly any small-to-medium enterprises leveraging on this gap in the market, LSPs, now’s your time to shine!

As an LSP, you might be wondering where you come in and what you can do to master the art of ethnic marketing. Well, the good news is that you already have the skills you need to be a marketing manager’s new best friend. What you need to sell is your cultural knowledge. You need to be there for your clients (and prospects) and advise them on where they can make money. You know what makes your country tick, and it’s time to sell that. You also know the language and if you can provide not only advice, but top-quality localized campaigns, your marketing manager client is never going to let you go.

And last but not least, prove how things work. Marketing managers know what metrics are needed to prove ROI works so ask them to help you prepare the data. Ask them about conversions, increase in site visitors and so on, then track these things, create case studies and use this data to show your newest prospects what they can achieve by combining marketing and localization.