By The Chicago Egotist / /
By Ozzie Godinez, CEO and Co-Founder PACO Collective
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for a fresh look at The State of Things. In the realm of cross-cultural marketing, it’s not exactly news that Americans of diverse background make up a larger proportion of every succeeding generation – but these days Americans’ diverse identities are increasingly shaped by more than our ethnic heritage. To do cross-cultural marketing right in this new decade we have to consider all aspects of diversity.
That’s why PACO has dedicated itself to Inclusive Marketing. We’re not leaving ethnicity-based culture behind by any means…we just believe that to find the right answers to marketing’s eternal questions of “Who am I communicating with?”, “What should I tell them?”, and “How should I deliver the message?”, it’s no longer enough to end there. To answer them, we start by looking at how people think, act, and react based on their universal human needs and then overlay the most relevant aspects of their identity to understand the context in which they perceive those needs.
In 2020 we see three things shaping those contexts: Reverse Assimilation, Retro-Acculturation, and Fluid Identity.
Reverse Assimilation is the process where non-dominant communities increasingly shape the cultural mainstream. This isn’t necessarily new; particularly where music is concerned. American culture has long been shaped by African-American influences in particular. What’s different today is that more than one group is doing the reshaping, and the need for cultural filters is basically gone – K-pop needed no Eminem to make it acceptable for white (or black, or Latino) audiences.
As Americans of diverse backgrounds don’t just try to rediscover their cultural heritage but actively incorporate it into their identities, we see Retro-Acculturation. Beyoncé’s embrace of Yoruba identity in her Lemonade album is a high-profile example. This phenomenon has of course always been with us (there’d be no St. Patrick’s Day without it), but as Americans are increasingly able to discover the full range of their roots through DNA analysis while no longer feeling obligated to even pretend to fully assimilate into a single cultural mainstream, it’s becoming more and more prevalent.
Fluid Identity emerges when people feel free to emphasize one or another part of their identity based upon the context. Think about a gay, bicultural, 23-year-old Latina who grew up in the Chicago suburbs and now lives in Portland. That’s quite a bundle, and she doesn’t feel obligated to leave any of it behind. She’s all of these things at all times, but which aspect of her identity comes to the fore depends on context – she might help organize fellow political activists on the way to work, rep her hometown by ordering deep dish at lunch, sound basic AF when she’s at happy hour with her friends, and speak Spanish on the phone with her tía when she gets home.
Gen Z is the most diverse generation in American history and the most committed to self-determination when it comes to matters of self-definition – so fluid identity is here to stay. And it’s here that the full implications of how inclusive marketing must work are most vividly illustrated. Americans are becoming increasingly cross-cultural on an individual level. As marketers, we should pay them the respect of keeping up.