By Mari D. González
I am pleased to learn that there is a newly formed national professional organization that addresses cross-cultural understanding in marketing –The Cross Cultural Marketing and Communications Association (CCMCA). This organization will facilitate and expand a much-needed cross-cultural perspective in the U.S. Thus, the idea that there is a dominant culture to which everyone should adhere is beginning to lose popularity. This acknowledgment informs us that the exponential growth of U.S. micro cultures, or so- called minority groups, can no longer be ignored.
In the last few decades, the conversation on ethnic marketing has paid a lot of attention to Hispanics. At the beginning of 2013, driven by census results in population growth of Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos and by a larger display of political power from those emerging groups, we began to hear less about Hispanic marketing and more about multicultural marketing.
Nevertheless, the term multicultural had already lost its distinctive meaning because it has been overused. “Multicultural” became the kind of I-feel-good-using-it-but-do-not-know-what-it-really-means expression. It lost meaning because many people used it thoughtlessly. Most people do not dare to learn about the culturally different unless they live in Oakland, CA, where there is greater diversity and they are likelier to make friends with people of other ethnicities.
On the other hand, cross-cultural, which means looking at similarities and differences, places social groups on a level playing field. Cross-cultural communication promises to see groups without any hierarchy, to cross over and even get closer to another cultural group. In cross-cultural communication, we learn by looking at how these cultural groups see themselves as opposed to how they have been perceived by the macro or dominant culture, which in this case, would be considered top-cultural instead of cross-cultural.
As a professional interculturalist who has done cross-cultural analysis in marketing, I could not be more delighted that a nation-wide professional marketing organization now exists and has the potential to address domestic, as opposed to international, issues related to culture in marketing and communications. This is an internal, inside the country, analysis of the relevance that the many ethnicities and social groups have in this country instead of, for instance, looking at the Chinese or the European markets.