True inclusion and accurate representation in marketing go far beyond making statements and checking off boxes. If you do not know the community you are marketing to, they will either tell you or leave. For maximum economic growth, businesses must invest in multicultural representation across the marketing ecosystem. Kimberly Evans Paige, CMO of BET, and Steven Wolfe Pereira, the new Chief Business Officer of 3Pas Studios and Chairman of Encantos, share their insights on positioning your business for the greatest return on investment, influence, and impact by embracing diversity as the most vital asset.
Here is what they had to say on Visionaries and how it could influence your team, talent, and future.
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- Knowing the Culture
- Cultural Currency
- How to Be A Culturally Competent Brand
- Utilizing Technology, Data, and Analytics for Impact
- Get the Right People to Lead
Knowing the Culture
Steven Wolfe Pereira: Through my work with 3Pas and Encantos, I create family-centric stories and kid’s content driven by Latinos and people of color. I know my community; it’s moms like Kimberly and dads like me who rarely see their kids represented accurately in media or given appropriate role models.
Many people don’t understand the Latino community; it is not a monolith. I’m excited to tell accurate stories showing our culture’s diversity and commonalities and find ways to work with partners like Kimberly at BET and other brands.
As you look at the numbers, over 50% of all kids in America today are diverse, specifically black and brown. The U.S. population is increasing from 20% to 40% Hispanic and will be 50% by 2060. There is going to be a great reckoning with the browning of America. What an incredible opportunity for brands and companies to lean in and understand their customers.
Kimberly Evans Paige: There is power in understanding what is happening within the African diaspora; not only the number of people, but its impact on culture, community, and commerce. The companies that provide space and agency and support for this shift in culture will win.
To that end, if a culturally competent leader does not lead your company, then you’ve got some work to do. Cultural competence cannot be outsourced or relegated to the traditional “multicultural marketing teams”, which tend to have little influence and are often under-resourced. Even at BET, which was born in service to the Black community, we take our obligation and responsibility seriously and we painstakingly debate how we accurately and fully represent the Black audience. I am happy to say BET is on a three-year run with record-performing growth. Our results are a point of pride because black lives have always mattered to us.
Kimberly Evans Paige: Cultural credibility drives commercial viability. When you get a driving culture and a community behind a brand, their support can create a trajectory no marketing investment can deliver.
As a marketer, whether you sell wine or widgets, you want to be culturally connected and relevant. Understanding the culture and having ongoing curiosity allows you to do meaningful work in consumers’ lives. I like to talk about the power of marketing with a big M: if it’s meaningful, and if it matters, it’ll move the metrics.
Cultural competency is how a brand can communicate to the marketplace that they are here with a deeper and more personal objective; this posture will produce what I call ROI, a return on influence and impact.
Steven Wolfe Pereira: Many marketers miss the point when tapping into the culture to drive commerce. It’s not about a branded sponsorship or inserting a celebrity in an advertisement; it’s how you authentically connect with the community, which goes beyond platitudes. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the tragedies we’ve faced over the past three years, those days are over; statements alone aren’t enough.
How to Be a Culturally Competent Brand
Steven Wolfe Pereira: Unfortunately, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement has turned into an HR check-the-box task because it’s “the right thing to do.” It has to be more; let’s focus on who the consumer is, how you drive value, and how diversity is a business growth asset. If you want to be culturally authentic, start by investing in diverse talent, behind or in front of the camera, to make it happen.
Kimberly Evans Paige: When creating a culturally authentic connection with consumers as a marketer, I avoid using the term “target” because it comes off as predatory. As consumers, we all know and have felt when a brand has targeted us, and it doesn’t feel good, and definitely won’t drive positive consumption behavior.
Through our messaging, I challenge myself and my team with two main questions: Does the brand content or messaging feel like an authentic invitation to participate with that brand or company, and if you were the one to receive this campaign, would it feel like the brand really sees, understands, and respects you?
Utilizing Technology, Data, and Analytics for Impact
Steven Wolfe Pereira: Technology is everywhere, and by looking at the data, you’ll be able to see things from the bottom up. The reality is that multicultural consumers are the early adopters of all technology because of necessity, and they haven’t had a voice or a means to communicate. Platforms like Black Twitter exist because they provide space for the black community’s voice to be heard and drive culture and conversation.
What has been shocking from my experience working with different brands, whether it’s large retailers, automotive, CPG, or beauty, 100% of growth is coming from multicultural consumers.
There is a vast disconnect where marketers understand technology, they want to go after Gen Z and Millennials, and they have access to all the data. Still, for some reason, they’re not investing or hiring diverse talent to reach multicultural consumers. There are no excuses because diverse talent is out there. Businesses will miss out on growth opportunities if they don’t take action because multicultural consumers are who will drive all products, technology, and communities.
Kimberly Evans Paige: Responding to the data and understanding that most of your consumers are multicultural is crucial because it is not a corporate social responsibility but a business imperative. A growth mindset means you’re using it all; you’re using the data, analytics, and tech. Culture comes first, but you have to be tech-enabled.
To grow, as stated earlier, this is a business growth imperative, where even more choice is in the hands of diverse consumers. They will tell you immediately if you’ve missed the mark or made an impact, and that’s the power of the data. If you’re not listening, being mindful of who is at the table, empowering them, and providing adequate resources to grow, you will not win.
You have to make the investment; if you aren’t a culturally competent led organization, invite the right people to lead and guide at every level of the company, from the Board of Directors down.
Get the Right People to Lead
Kimberly Evans Paige: There are no excuses why you can’t invest in diverse talent; it is out there. That is why I love being a founding member of BECA (Black Executive CMO Alliance), a membership program of black CMOs from every industry segment imaginable. We are focused on creating a pipeline of diverse C-Suite talent, partnering with companies and helping bust myths, providing hands-on support, and teaching lessons and case studies on career success for this cohort of younger executives working towards the C-Suite pipeline.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every Tuesday at 9 AM PT and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
Kimberly Evans Paige, CMO, BET:
Kimberly Evans Paige describes herself first as a mom, sister, friend, and lover of culture who happens to be a lifelong brand builder and marketer. She is EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of BET and manages BET’s live events and digital businesses. She is helping build up more black talent in the C-Suite as a founding member of BECA (Black Executive CMO Alliance). She started her career at Proctor and Gamble but spent 22 years at the Coca-Cola Company, running various business units and brands, and is known for her excellent work with the Sprite brand. After 17 years in the beverage industry, Kimberly transitioned to the beauty industry as the CMO for Coty. She later became Sundial Brand’s Chief Operating Officer.
Steven Wolfe Pereira, CBO, 3Pas Studios:
Steven Wolfe Pereira is a born and raised New Yorker, proud Dominican, and husband and father of two. He is the Chief Business Officer of 3Pas Studios; the global entertainment company co-founded by the most prominent Latino actor in the world, Eugenio Derbez, and his producing partner Ben Odell. Steven also is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Encantos PBC, the award-winning children’s entertainment company. Encantos focuses on diverse stories and characters and brings them to life through apps, books, content, consumer products, and more. Under his leadership, Encantos was named one of the top 100 startups by Business Insider and Apple’s prestigious Entrepreneur Camp. Steven is an accomplished executive with over 25 years of experience in technology, media, and financial services. Adweek named him as one of the “50 Most Indispensable Executives in Marketing, Media and Tech” and one of Hispanic Executive’s “Top 10 Líderes” in 2021.
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