Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Seattle Multicultural Marketing Summit 2015: New Ideas for a Changing World

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 09.10.15


Seattle Summit Presenters discuss the future of Multicultural Marketing

Seattle Summit Presenters discuss the future of Multicultural Marketing


This May, the Pacific Northwest finally saw multicultural marketing experts gathered in one place. Seattle was the chosen location for this ground breaking Summit in which marketers, advertising firms, industry leaders in multicultural research and strategy, as well as CEO’s and marketing innovators, like Diego Osuna, were there to debate the future of Multicultural Marketing.


Founder & Chief Sojourner at globalsojourn, and a recipient of the “40 under 40” award by the Minneapolis/ St. Paul Business Journal, as well as the Champions Award, General Mills’ highest employee recognition, Diego is the brilliant mind behind this marketing event. He first held the conference back in 2013 and collected together the advisory board. “I wanted to bring in a broader perspective,” he explains, “bring people together with the expertise to open a discussion about the changing face of multicultural marketing.” 


Diego Osuna is the founder of the Seattle Marketing Summit

Diego Osuna is the founder of the Seattle Marketing Summit


And he aims to make this a yearly event. He even hopes to bring this kind of conference to Vancouver to gain a Canadian perspective on the same key issues facing marketers today. 


This year, the summit was held on Tuesday, May 19th at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and this type of event is fairly new to the marketing world, especially the Pacific Northwest. “Everyone centers these types of conferences in the usual major cities like New York and California,” explains Diego. “This whole notion that people are here, in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver and they have the expertise in [multicultural marketing] needs to be known. We have a lot of big companies here, like Microsoft and Starbucks. We can bring together many marketing professionals, service providers, businesses and experts.”


This year’s theme was one that mainstream events and marketing conventions usually overlook: “CREATING THE NEW MULTICULTURAL MARKETING PARADIGM,” was the starting off point for many a discussion. When asked why this particular theme, Diego replies, “Multicultural marketing has evolved way beyond a niche market, especially if you look at younger consumers and millennials. ‘Niche’ is a term that no longer applies and we needed to come up with a more advanced approach to [multicultural marketing].”


More than 100 national and local business leaders gathered to discuss how leading edge marketers are adapting to this new reality in the US’ marketplace. Speakers included industry experts from around the US, leaders in multicultural or cross-cultural marketing, research and business development firms and marketing VP’s from some of the largest and most successful American corporations such as REI and Starbucks.


Guests attending the Seattle Marketing Summit 2015, a very Multicultural Mix

Guests attending the Seattle Marketing Summit 2015, a very Multicultural Mix


They all collected together to recognise and explore the major shifts happening in the marketing world, particularly the evolving nature of advertising and the changing face of the ‘average’ consumer. In the hot seat was the issue of how to engage and develop a marketing strategy that truly reflects and connects with modern multicultural consumers.  


Another aim of the summit was to equip marketers with the necessary information to adapt their strategies to a multi-faceted audience. Traditional marketing practices have been challenged by the emergence of the Total Market Strategy. This is a marketing concept that begins with a complete understanding of a diverse consumer, including multicultural audiences, without relying on a one-size-fits-all approach. For more info on marketing definitions and what they mean, Read our Blog article.


Is Total Market the new future of advertising? Diego seems to lean towards this approach, but he warns against lumping everyone together in one ethnic pile. “Companies that do it wrong can really miss the mark,” says Diego. “Total Market Approach has to be thought out. Marketers can’t just come up with a general ad and say let’s just translate. They will also need to create an overall approach for these markets. But if done right, it can and will succeed.”


Speakers and guests were there to discuss and expand on the Summit’s theme, as well as network with others in their field or industry. Some of the presenters included:

  • Valeria Piaggio, Vice President, Head of PolyCultural Insights and  Consulting, The Futures Company
  • Cesar Melgoza, Founder and CEO, Geoscape
  • Laura Swapp, Director of Multicultural Marketing and Partnerships, REI  
  • Joe Ray, VP of Multicultural Strategy, LaneTerraLever


 Here are a few highlights from this year’s summit that you will perhaps find shocking and revealing:


  • The new multicultural mainstream offers exciting revenue opportunities for smart companies. In fact, multicultural families spend more throughout their lifetimes than other groups, richly rewarding brands able to establish loyalty in these households. (Cesar Melgoza, CEO of Geoscape)


  • Only 51% of companies surveyed have a focused multicultural marketing strategy in place. For more than half of these companies, direct marketing expenditures for multicultural markets is less than 10% of their budget despite representing a significantly higher portion of the market.


  •  Most Millennials (consumers born between 1980 and 1995) are often “polycultural”. They are attached to their own culture, but are open to, and interested, in others. Thus, companies need to become “color brave,” not color blind, and take meaningful positions on race and diversity (Valeria Piaggio, Vice President, Head of PolyCultural Insights and  Consulting, The Futures Company)



Diego’s take on the summit and other themes will be explored in our upcoming blogs. Stay tuned! QEQ will also weigh in on these topics. Look for more insights and highlights from the Multicultural Marketing Summit as we follow this article in the upcoming weeks.


Don’t Wait to Debate: Continue the discussion! Share your opinions and comments with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Follow Us on Twitter @QEQculture



Sources: Highlights from the 2015 Seattle Multicultural Summit provided by Diego Osuna. Images also provided courtesy of the Summit organisers. Additional material found at www.Inc.com