Q&A: Meet Donnie Broxson, the Agency President Offering His Perspective on Consumer Fatigue

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Ever wondered how many ads you see a day? Dozens? Hundreds? Try thousands. Estimates suggest most Americans are exposed to anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. If attention is a finite currency, devoting it to thousands of pieces of often meaningless communications efforts doesn’t make biological sense. As such our subconscious screening process begins. Donnie Broxson, President of Acento Advertising has built a career out of breaking through this consumer fatigue. He sat down with us and spoke about these ideas, and more, including multicultural marketing and some core elements to bear in mind as it relates to fighting indifference.

Q: What factors contribute to the emergence of consumer fatigue and what are the implications for marketers?

Consumer fatigue has resulted from a convergence of several societal forces. Thanks to technology, the volume of messages has grown exponentially.  Americans are exposed to approximately 5,000 ads each day. Simultaneously, ease to market for small brands and international competitors has created a crowded, undifferentiated product space. Another societal force is a lack of trust in government, corporations, media, and even one another at disturbing levels.

All contribute to fast-forwarding the choice of least resistance based on convenience and price.

To avoid a commoditized race to the bottom, marketers must be increasingly thoughtful and redefine the value equation. Brands must play a role in culture, not just finance, to be meaningful in the life of an overwhelmed consumer.

Q: Are advertisers responding to these implications correctly?

The challenge is formidable, and some are responding well, at least for now. The most daunting factor for advertisers is the fundamental shift from a linear problem-solution mentality to a more flexible, continuously adaptive consumer-partner approach.  Culture is moving quickly, and brands must be responsive to shifts in consumer reality in real-time.

This means responding at speeds that are uncomfortable to the traditionally accepted development/review/approval process. Brands must understand themselves more deeply, define what they stand for, and choose their intended role in society. This then provides the guide rails to quick decisions, market responses, and proactive cultural communications.

Q: How would you define cross-cultural marketing and compare it to multicultural marketing? Is multicultural marketing a thing of the past?

The term “Multicultural marketing” has been variably interpreted and misused for many years. At its heart, it means marketing to multiple cultural or linguistic segments. There is certainly nothing wrong with that! Every brand should respond to the diversity of its marketplace. But the approach used to accomplish this is generally quite siloed. This is fine when each intended segment is more or less discrete, but that is rarely the case in modern society.

The cross-cultural marketing model is an evolution of the segmented approach that offers a holistic view without sacrificing the nuances that drive resonance. It recognizes the shared values, conversion points, and cultural fusion of diverse audiences while tapping into cultural and linguistic distinctions.

Culture is not an either/or discussion, but rather an exploration of AND. Every segment interacts with others, adapts situationally and responds from a uniquely developed perspective. Individuals may lean into one language over another in specific situations and pull from cultural cues from different aspects of their lives and histories based on the topic at hand. To fully understand the consumer of a given segment, we must also understand adjacent segments and how they interconnect.

Q: What kind of factors do you consider when targeting advertising campaigns towards Hispanic vs general market audiences?

Marketing is marketing, but often in a search for simplicity, we forget some of its basic tenets. We must first remember to avoid assumptions, and rather, set out to deeply understand our audiences and the communities in which they live regardless of their defined segment. From the macro level of human truth, cultural trends and category developments we explore the fine-tuning of cultural adherence and linguistic code. Strong marketers are exhaustive in their search to understand audience motivations, barriers, and journeys.  They know what they don’t know.

With 40% of the United States now non-white, I would argue that the “general market” no longer exists. This implies that even if you seek only to target the English-speaking, Caucasian segment, you must recognize it as a segment with individual complexities, dynamic cultural associations, and linguistic nuances.

Q: What kind of cross-cultural strategies can companies use to promote cultural and business leadership?

The first strategic step must be to deepen the brand’s understanding of its potential audience. Brands must invest in research that captures insights across the cultural and linguistic spectrum of the United States. A comparative study of each segment allows marketers to fully understand both points of convergence and distinction.

With data and intuition as a guide, proactive and thoughtful allocation of marketing dollars is a strong second step. Many brands find that previously overlooked or underfunded segments are the most profitable.

The most important strategic decision is to lead. Clearly a leadership voice is imperative to promote your brand’s role in culture and society. But bringing that voice to life requires commitment and internal leadership that inspires collaboration across segment initiatives and supports the role of cultural expertise.

Q: How can advertisers leverage segment market nuances to address both specific and general markets effectively?

It is important for advertisers to incorporate segment insights into the brand and campaign development process from the very beginning. Regardless of the media budget variances of segment focus and size, it is most effective to value equally the diverse perspectives throughout the strategic process.

Recognizing the diversity of the marketplace and that no segment lives in a vacuum (indeed many overlap substantially), diverse insights deliver a stronger overall approach. The core humanity of your initiative is more clearly defined through an informed and inclusive process. From there unique nuances of culture and language can be leveraged to enhance resonance in targeted efforts.

Q: What is the clear path to defeating consumer indifference?

The market will continue to gain complexity with new channels, new products, unexpected competitors, and societal adjustments. To avoid being lost in the cacophony, brands must create a connection with humans that is non-transactional. Embrace them as more than just a consumer of your product.  People want to feel something; they want to believe in something. Claim your space in culture and be that something.

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