05/02/2014 11:08 am ET Updated Jul 02, 2014

Multicultural Marketing: A Must for Multicultural Countries

On my returning to Grenada from Mexico in 2010, I said to myself, wow, social media has really liberated the marketing landscape. I realized that for the first time, that both large and small companies had an equal advantage in the field of marketing. No longer did larger companies with larger marketing budget have an advantage over the smaller businesses. Sites such as and made it even easier for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to get things done, and be able to run their businesses more effectively.

As an advocate for entrepreneurship and promoter of small and medium enterprise development, I was thrilled with how social media and the Internet on a whole was breaking down barriers and making it so much easier to create and market products.

It wasn't until I traveled to Canada that I realized something. I was slightly surprised to see how diversified Canada was in terms of race and culture. Living in Toronto, at least one out of every five persons I met were immigrants. I then realized that this will be somewhat tricky for businesses and entrepreneurs in their marketing efforts, because what may appeal to one person and induce them to buy your product may not appeal to another, based on their culture and beliefs -- even though the benefits of the product or service may very well be the same for everyone.

I then realized that many businesses were using the same marketing message to target everyone, regardless of race and culture. Even though social media and the Internet have made it easier to do marketing, using the same generic message for everyone was not the best approach. I believe that people should be marketed to their culture and their beliefs. And that's when I came in contact with a term that I believe has been revolutionizing marketing. Maybe not more than the Internet has done, but I believe it's a concept that's very important and many marketers should embrace it. It's called multicultural marketing or ethnic marketing. Multicultural marketing refers to marketing to one or more person of a particular ethnic background. This tends to take into consideration a person's age, gender, culture, norms, language, religion, traditions etc. to persuade that person to buy.

This concept is important as there is a huge opportunity cost to be borne by ignoring it -- cost such as: huge loss in profits, since people may misinterpret messages in ads. Additionally people tend to stay within their cultural boundaries, their norms, traditions, culture, all tend to influence their buying habits. Multicultural marketing or ethnic marketing is very important and it is one of the factors that will help determine the success of many marketing campaigns.

While it is evident that many of the larger companies use multicultural marketing, and there are companies such as Ethnicity that are offering multicultural marketing services to many businesses, it has come to my attention that many of the smaller businesses are not using such, and are going for the more generic one-size-fits-all approach. This approach will not be sustainable over the long-term.

To be successful in multicultural marketing, it is important to understand that multicultural doesn't necessarily mean you have to be an intimate part of a particular culture. You just need to research and understand such a culture. It is very important to take language into consideration as well; certain words when translated may not mean exactly what you thought it would and this may have dangerous repercussion for your brand. Just translating information without adapting your message can be devastating. Enlisting the help of people from a particular culture to help target your marketing message can be a smart thing to do. You may not have money to pay a large multicultural marketing firm, but enlisting the help of someone can help you understand, cultural references which are inappropriate, analogies puns, etc., which are not to be used, and grammar issues among others.

Again, social media can be used to help with your multicultural marketing efforts. Persons can go online to research their target market, what are their online habits, which social media sites they are most popular on, among others. Marketing is dynamic. And it's time to embrace its dynamism; multicultural marketing can make a huge difference in your company.