Multicultural Special Report: Q&A with Kang & Lee’s Saul Gitlin
I think it really comes down to one of the basic tenets of why multicultural marketing is valuable. If a marketer decides to customize a Web site for a particular language spoken by an immigrant group … or goes a step further and actually builds in more cultural elements to the site in terms of design and functionality—it becomes the difference between putting a general Web site out there in English and hoping diverse groups will come and use it and … sending what we call a hand-engraved invitation to [ethnic] populations to use the site.
That said, there are segments of the Asian population that are much more comfortable [communicating] in their native languages. So, for a certain portion of [marketers’] potential [audience], building in language-appropriate content may be the difference between access and no access.
TM: How should marketers construct their sites to attract and retain Asian-American customers?
SG: If it’s a content site, it’s about making it accessible through language and delivering content that’s relevant. … If it’s an e-commerce site, you need to be offering relevant products and services, which will vary per product category. Again, it’s about access, language and products.
The other thing to realize is that for an audience like the Asian population, which largely is an immigrant audience, sometimes you may need to provide more information to explain a brand, company or a product that might be taken for granted by the general audience. For example, Asians are very good about evaluating investments and other financial opportunities and products. But, in this country, we have some products that may not exist with the same names overseas. An example is a mutual fund. Around the world there are variations on what a mutual fund product is, and it’s not called a mutual fund everywhere. So … if you put up a site targeting Asian immigrants about mutual funds, you might need more explanation about what this product is and how it works. It’s not just about language translation. It’s also about what content [you include] and how much content you provide.