“Immigrant communities -- the Asian market for example -- are heavy long distance and local phone service users. If you can reach them as customers when they first come to this country, experience shows that both these people and their children will develop brand loyalty to you.
The Verizon approach to multicultural consumers is to look at the situation from the perspective that we are making long-term relationships with customers and that we are culturally relevant to a variety of ethnic groups across the country. We want to ensure that our multicultural efforts are synergistic with the efforts of our mass marketing groups. Our objective is to establish and maintain cultural relevance to different segments of the American population. Appealing to the diverse communities that make up this country must be a part of the communications and brand-building efforts of any company’s product or service. Building an appeal for diverse audiences and target markets is an integral part of the communications strategy involved in building a brand.
In the United States today, there are so many different people from so many different cultures. Targeting of groups is based on the size of the footprint of various groups in different parts of the country. For Verizon the key market segments are: African-American, Hispanic and Asian markets. In the New York area we are starting to target a growing Russian community. Our marketing targets are really based on where we are and where the business is. In the Hispanic markets, we are seeing that it is more lucrative to go after Spanish language customers.
Research is key for everything we do. Research validates that decisions made are the right thing to do -- that this is the right product and that this is where the opportunities are. At Verizon we do one main study every year regarding the usage patterns of customers and to track the brands used by various groups of desired customers. Many corporations do not do research when trying to get into the pulse of their desired customers. The Hispanic consumer was different in 1995 than they are in 2003. The same holds true for the African-American market. African-Americans today are much different consumers than they were in 1975.
I am constantly having to explain how Verizon’s approach to multicultural marketing is about developing cultural relevance for consumers and developing culturally relevant products for groups of immigrants coming from markets where these products and services simply did not exist. When dealing with these kinds of customers and establishing relevance for products and services, it is critical to be able to have target market customers understand what the product does and why they need the product in the first place. You have to make customers understand the need and the relevance [of this product to their] lives.
People often think that multicultural marketing or branding efforts are a diversity initiative of the company. I have to explain to them what multicultural customers represent to the revenue of the corporation; that multicultural marketing is about developing a viable and important business segment for Verizon. The public needs to understand that multicultural customers drive revenue for the corporation and are a growing and significant part of the corporation’s revenue.
I would make sure that I worked on multicultural marketing efforts at least [once] on an effort where your entire business focus involves multicultural marketing efforts. That is where you learn how to build a brand.
For me and the people that work on my team, you must have a passion for people. This passion is especially important in the multicultural area where these strong feelings translate into the drive necessary to make dreams come true. If people can see your passion and drive, they can then more easily get behind you.”