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Your Ethically Diverse Consumers Aren’t Hearing You. How to connect with CALD consumers

Last week I attended Mumbrella 360, which is Australia's largest marketing & media conference.


Conferences are time-consuming, expensive, and honestly, some sessions are a bit hit-and-miss.  So they may not be high on your agenda. 


But never fear; I like to attend key conferences and cut through the crap to send my clients and subscribers the good, actionable stuff.


So over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing my key takeaways from my favourite sessions.


The first session I'd like to share was an excellent research presentation by The Research Agency on Culturally and Linguistically Diverse consumers (CALD) i.e migrants and their fellow generations.  This study was conducted in Australia, whose CALD population is now a majority at 52%.  However, given the research agency's objective to find common, scalable insights amongst this very diverse group, the learnings are highly applicable across markets with high proportions of CALD consumers.


A careful balancing act between Culturally Sensitive and Strategically Pragmatic


As a collective, these consumers' backgrounds are extremely diverse, and each person’s situation is individual, so the needs of these consumers are nuanced and complex.  So, reaching these consumers need a careful balancing act between being culturally sensitive yet strategically pragmatic.  Therefore, the goal of this research study was to find the key needs most CALD consumers had in common, allowing brands to be able to relevantly apply these insights with scale.



CALD consumers are highly aspirational for a new life, but they don't feel like they belong


The common need this research discovered was CALD consumers had all made the choice to uproot and travel in search of a better life. As a result, they are highly optimistic and aspirational about what the future could hold.

 However, the tension connected to this need, is that:



only 1/3 of CALD consumers feel Australian’s see them as Australians
 and that brands don’t understand or speak to them in a relevant or meaningful way



Understanding their passage from beginnings to belonging holds the key for marketers and the role their brand can play during this passage.



Belonging is not about disappearing into Australian culture.


It’s about bridging cultures to help them find their own equilibrium.  All CALD consumers will RETAIN some components of their heritage, carefully ADAPT others or quickly shift to ADOPT the Australian way of life on others.

The Killer, Actionable Slide


This research brilliantly identified which components of life sit in each RETAIN, ADAPT or ADOPT and therefore gleans actionable insight as to how your brand and industry can connect with these consumers.  The research also demonstrates how this varies for new migrants vs 1st and 2nd generation.





 TRA left us with their parting thoughts about how we can engage CALD consumers at each stage of the RETAIN, ADAPT, ADOPT journey, but the overall lesson is again a balancing act.



Don’t treat CALD consumers as separatists.

Keep them in the broader brand efforts but help them contextualise your messages and experiences.




 Some thought starters from me to you.

Where do your industry and brand sit on the journey as CALD consumers seek to find a sense of belonging? Depending where you sit in Retain, Adapt or Adopt will determine the role your brand can play.....or not.


For my Shopping Centres clients specifically: Food & celebrations sit in RETAIN; therefore, customers will be seeking authentic food & celebrations that reflect their heritage.  However, entertainment & socialising sit in ADAPT so brands can enable their inclusion & help them navigate the societal norms connected to these occasions.  Fashion sits in ADOPT, so invite them in and inspire or show them what to do.

Understand that a person’s identity (family values, religion) is deeply anchored to their cultural heritage and doesn’t change significantly through generations, with the exception of humour.  The RETAIN Identity is probably where you want to approach initiatives at a more micro, nuanced level. Get to know your specific consumers at a deeper level and avoid wrapping the entire CALD cohort into one segment.

Sport and News sit in ADOPT, so inserting brand communication or experiences into relevant sporting or cultural news moments could be a way to connect your brand to CALD consumers at scale.


A huge thank you to TRA for sharing this research and the slides.  If you’d like further information, please contact Terri Hall at TRA +61 405 604 226.

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