I’m used to seeing my alma mater, Florida State, in articles about aspects of campus life that aren’t exactly academic. I’m proud to be an FSU alumni because I feel that I received a quality education, so I’m ecstatic that for once I’ve read an article that praises an academic program at FSU. And even better, it’s an academic program that I was part of: multicultural marketing.
Edward T. Rincón laments the fact that multicultural marketing isn’t a more widespread practice, and he thinks this is caused by a lack of multicultural education in universities. He points to FSU’s multicultural marketing program as “the best model of multicultural marketing education,” but doesn’t see much being done elsewhere.
I was FSU’s second recipient of the Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Marketing, and as a graduate student I was a teaching assistant for Hispanic marketing. Now, I’ve been promoted to main instructor and when the fall semester starts in a few weeks I will teach multicultural marketing communication.
In my opinion, Rincón is right: students who aren’t exposed to the multicultural segment are less likely to become professionals who are conscious of opportunities with multicultural consumers simply because they aren’t aware of the potential. When I’ve shared my resume with other professionals, I’ve been asked why it is necessary to have a separate course for Hispanic marketing. While I do feel that the same basic principles of researching the audience and finding what it values are applied across all segments, without some sort of exposure to the multicultural segment I don’t think marketers would take the initiative to reach out to this segment as easily.
When I teach multicultural marketing, there are two main things I want my students to take away from the course. First, that there is life beyond the general market (and as my Hispanic marketing professor says, who is the general market anyway? Is there even such a thing as the average American consumer?). Multicultural consumers with huge purchasing power are ripe for the taking if only brands would target them with culturally sensitive communication. And second, that culture matters in marketing. Targeting any consumer necessarily means researching their culture and finding what they value. If my students can understand those two very basic ideas, I know that they will be motivated and empowered to target the multicultural audience. The rest is giving them the tools they need to research the consumer and develop a strategy.