In the current social and political climate, it’s critical for brands to understand where their relationship stands with key consumers. This is especially important for multicultural consumers who are no longer a “nice to have,” but a “need to have” segment of any brands’ customer base. And as this consumer becomes an increasingly vocal and influential force in all aspects of society, it is imperative that brands understand how to connect effectively and build meaningful relationships with diverse consumers.

That’s why Edelman’s first-ever Earned Brand U.S. Multicultural study focuses on examining how African-American and Latino consumers relate to their favorite brands, and what makes them become loyal customers and advocates for a brand. This report also offers insights into what really matters to these individuals and identifies the drivers that will strengthen the consumer-brand relationship across seven dimensions:

  1. Embody a unique character
  2. Build trust
  3. Make a mark
  4. Tell a memorable story
  5. Listen openly, respond selectively
  6. Inspire sharing and invite partnership
  7. Act with purpose

The Edelman Brand Relationship Index (EBRI) measures brands’ performance against each of these seven dimensions and offers an overall score that represents the average relationship quality that brands have attained within the multicultural segment.

The report found that Latinos and African-Americans have a more evolved relationship with the brands they care about, getting closer to the goal of full commitment with their brands. With an EBRI score of 45 (compared to 38 for Non-Hispanic Whites), both the Latino and African-American segments are “Invested” with their favorite brands, meaning that not only are they actively choosing them over their competitors, and like what they stand for, but they also have a deeper connection to the brands’ present and future – they are in it together.

It is imperative for brands and marketers to remember one size does not fit all when engaging diverse consumers. Brands must take a culturally-informed communications marketing approach toward engagement, rooting all efforts in cultural intelligence to connect with and engage with diverse audiences.

Here are five key takeaways about multicultural consumers from the report:

  1. They have deeper band relationships – When engaging diverse consumers, make sure to tap into insights that speak to how they relate to your brand to determine what actions will move them along the relationship continuum.
  2. They are more willing to listen – Brands should focus on engaging these consumers with culturally relevant content to help strengthen their connection to their brands.
  3. They respond to earned media – When looking to engage multicultural audiences, brands should consider a combination of mediums including print, radio and digital.
  4. They expect you to engage fully – Brands must incorporate diverse consumers’ concerns into their social purpose efforts to ensure their programming will connect with these audiences.
  5. They value your commitment above all – When brands are truly committed, these segments notice!

Yocasta Shames is a senior vice president, Edelman New York.