Years from now, we will look back at 2020 as a seminal year marked by events that brought on permanent changes to the advertising and marketing industry.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we reach and interact with consumers and brought digital-first strategies more to the forefront as a way to adapt to the reality of a virtually connected world.
But 2020 also brought upon a greater focus in the area of racial inequalities and how the advertising and marketing industry needs to be more inclusive and play a leading role in breaking down obstacles and systemic problems that greatly impact people of color.
Many brands and ad agencies, to their credit, implemented changes and became more aware of their role in ensuring equality for all. However, not all have understood that diversity and inclusion initiatives alone will not help them align and prepare for the “New America,” when Whites will be the minority in the United States.
One fact that escaped major headlines in the midst of so much news with the pandemic, protests and the election was that in 2020, for the first-time people of color were the majority of people under 16, according to the U.S. Census.
In 2021, we will see other major signs of the growing “minority-majority” population and why brands and ad agencies need to go beyond diversity initiatives and embrace multicultural marketing as a business imperative. Here are a few:
- Release of the 2020 Census – The 2020 Census will continue to show a continued decrease in the percentage of the White alone segment and an increase in non-White populations – fueled largely by Hispanics. In the 2010 Census, Hispanics comprised 50 percent of the actual population growth in the U.S., and it’s expected to be slightly higher in 2020.
- Multicultural Marketing Included in RFPs – One reason multicultural marketing hasn’t grown in prominence is that its importance wasn’t always spelled out in new business requests for proposals (RFPs) – that will begin to change. Brands will expect agencies bidding on new business to also bring forth strategies and experience with diverse population segments and will spell out more specific needs in RFPs.
- Increased Collaborations Between Agencies – As a consequence of brands seeking agency partners to help them grow in the multicultural space, general market ad agencies will seek collaborations with smaller multicultural agencies to help them compete and win new business.
- Multicultural Agencies Winning More Business – As the “general market” becomes more diverse, more multicultural agencies will rise to agency of record status with brands who understand the importance of aligning themselves to the New America.
- Multicultural Agency Mergers and Acquisitions – Large general market agencies will consider M&A strategies when they either start to lose business or budgets to smaller multicultural agencies, or when they start to win business with multicultural agency collaborations as their major differentiator.
While 2020 was a challenging year full of constant change, it taught us to be nimble and to adapt to a new reality where the status quo just won’t do, and things will no longer be the same. This includes our nation’s population. Make 2021 the year your brand or agency adapts to not only the “new normal” of a post-pandemic world, but also the “new normal” of a United States where people of color will soon be the majority.