Perhaps one of the most powerful tools we have in business and digital diplomacy is marketing. The magic concept of “a pitch for relavance,” which, if authentic can be a powerful force for profit and change. Today many marketer push unnatural concepts that take years and very hard work to accomplish and sustain. This means pushing an unusual idea like eating wood or metal might take years to advance and popularize. However more organic ideas like popularizing flax grains or newly developed pulses may be easier to drive in the public sphere.
Many small businesses fail to understand how much easier it would be to promote Ethno-Positive praducts, services and influencers than the current model. Marketers must strive to recreate their marketing vehicles to reflect the actual cultures and people’s being targetted. In fact marketers and creators in television, movies and other forms of entertainment could also happily increase their profits in the same way. Marvel’ s Black Panther earned 1.344 billion USD in just 4 months of release in 2018 becoming one of the highest grossing movies of all time. What makes that accomplishment amazing, is that the feat was accomplished on a 200 million USD budget, without successive episodes or earlier substantial storylines like other high grossing franchises.
Part of that model should be brand ambassadors that reflect the actual population and not old ideals. For many in developing nations, eurocentric models and modeled-products are often used to woo customers; when the realities of daily life are something quite apart. This made sense under past colonial boundaries, but now that those old conventions are eroded, useless and distopian; marketing that continues to perpetuate such concepts needlessly lessen the effective quality and adoption of the message.
Marketers around the world must begin to promote homegrown beauty, fashion, ideas and content that speaks more authoritatively to their market. There already there, from Bangladesh to China, Senegal to India. Many local companies and marketers freely leave money on the table pushing products and images which the majority of their population cannot afford or identify with! This makes marketing needlessly hard and sales slimmer than they could be!
African marketers present an excellent case study and must be applauded for their marketing intelligence in the area of selling products using the common vernacular and pidgin of their local population. Such “homegrown” innovation makes marketing and adoption easier. The authenticity factor is a major part of the attraction! Without it, there is a learning curve that customers much surmount before they can begin to appreciate your product/service–or even decide to buy it. Even the BBC followed their lead, adopteding pidgin English news platforms for West African consumption.
This authentucuty must also extend to products and services that local people truly use and buy. Promoting an actual beauty standard and product that fits your population signals to your target market that this is FOR them. The rollout of Fenty Beauty Cosmetics present a great example of this not so obvious phenomenon.
In the last quarter of 2017 Fenty Beauty Cosmetics debuted, releasing color palettes that complimented actual skin tones using a brief marketing campaign, which began selling out within days. By the end of 2018 the company reported earnings of nearly 600 million USD in Forbes. Many marketers have not been trained to truly understand markets and human behavior. Here’s an open secret: Your market wants to see people that look, talk and act like them–and enjoy the same things they do! This makes marketing reachable, palpable and real. If your models, ads, products and services do not reflect real populations you are leaving millions of dollars untouched!
For those concerned with attracting customers beyond their local market, there is a formula! Crossover occurs when others see the beauty and power of your culture/ethnography reflected in good solid products and powerful marketing. Mediums like Japanese Manga, Black American Music and Chinese Martial Arts come to mind. Crossover is a bit easier than you think! It comes from a consistency and dedication to reaching your own population and presenting an authentic version to the world. It’s time for marketers around the world to start moving toward marketing that reflects the true picture of their populations. This means abandoning hybrid representatives of culture and holdover concepts from the old way.
Marketers must get smarter as competition rises. Understanding human behavior as a marketer goes beyond AI and algorithms.