Courier : Does that put older leaders at a disadvantage for keeping an organization vibrant and relevant ? Soto : Many corporate leaders and business owners , including those in the travel and tour industry , are older boomer- and senior-aged non-Hispanic white individuals . Meanwhile , younger consumers make up a sizeable proportion of today ’ s economically vibrant consumer base , and they are considerably more diverse . This age and cultural gap creates challenges between older marketers and younger consumers .
Older generations often have a challenging time relating to and connecting with younger ideals , many of which are shaped and influenced by multiculturalism . They are set in their ways and have insulated themselves in homogeneity , which is reflected in where they live and with whom they socialize . This can hurt their businesses , though .
Younger generations , the most racially and ethnically diverse in history , see the world much differently . This population is comfortable with diversity and relishes cultural differences . In fact , it ’ s common for younger generations to choose where they live , shop , go to school , and travel and play based on their ability to access and enjoy diversity .
Courier : How , then , do older tourism professionals tap into younger markets ? Soto : Executives who engage me are typically challenged by multiple priorities and growth objectives , and they are asked to accomplish much with limited time , people and budgets . Many are keenly aware of demographic changes and expanded buying power among multicultural consumers , but their unfamiliarity with multicultural segments — and their own mindset constraints — often affects their willingness to build the internal capabilities necessary to understand and capture multicultural sales .
Many leaders find themselves in this predicament . They simply do not understand why or how they must align their organizations to accelerate sales among multicultural segments . As a result , they continue to ignore consumers in the very segments where growth requires attention and change .
Courier : What are some steps these execs can take ? Soto : Fear of the unknown and risk aversion are common distractors , especially when other priorities are tugging at them , but this is counterproductive . By the time a company asks for my help , they ’ re already feeling the impact on sales and can ’ t afford ignore market realities any longer .
Capitalizing on the multicultural market opportunity isn ’ t easy . It ’ s disruptive . It requires effort and an investment of resources , and it doesn ’ t happen overnight .
— Terry Soto
I advise your members to work through the same exercise I offer clients who are truly interested in understanding their potential with multicultural segments — and in accelerating sales :
• Think about your company ’ s goals , your strategies and the profile of your typical customer .
• Determine if that type of customer is growing or declining in the markets where your company does business , and ask how that growth or decline will impact business if you do nothing to capture new customers .
• Identify which segments of multicultural populations are most like the customers you target .
• Define the size of high-potential segments and take steps to understand their attitudes , values and buying behavior regarding travel .
• Estimate the potential for new business and work to integrate promising multicultural segments into your planning , strategy development and execution .
At the very least , these steps should help you find out what the market is worth and what you can gain or lose by tapping — or ignoring — it .
Courier : How do people increase their understanding of other cultures ? Soto : Delivering value to customers requires a deep understanding of their needs and wants . Then it becomes easier to give customers what they value . I often tell my clients that we only do well by those people we take the time to get to know , and we don ’ t do well by people we know nothing about .
I encourage my clients to develop a “ cultural sixth sense ” to heighten their understanding of what would make their products and services relevant to and valued by multicultural consumers . This means taking the time to get to know those high-potential multicultural segments . They must do the homework . As with any initiative that requires change , capitalizing on the multicultural market opportunity isn ’ t easy . It ’ s disruptive . It requires effort and an investment of resources ( people , time and money ), and it doesn ’ t happen overnight . It can take months and sometimes years , but once you ’ re on the right path , the results are often significant sales growth , high customer satisfaction and fierce loyalty .
Challenge your co-workers to overcome their hesitation and to take an objective look at the demographic , societal and economic impact of multicultural America on your business . It can catapult you into capturing the greatest sales growth accelerator of the 21st century .
Terry Soto is the author of “ Marketing to Hispanics : A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative ” and “ Grow With America : Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising .” Her next book , “ Finding Growth in Multicultural America : A Certainty for Global Businesses ” is due out in spring 2018 . For more information , visit her company ’ s website , aboutmarketing solutions . com .