2018 was an incredible year for multicultural representation in Hollywood. From “Black Panther” to “Crazy Rich Asians,” these movies have shown that great stories can be told from a diverse perspective with diverse casts and break box office records at the same time. It was fitting that the year concluded with one of the best films I have seen in a while, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” This incredibly creative animated superhero film has shattered creative barriers, broken box office records, scored a near perfect 10 on Rotten Tomatoes, all while pointing to what I think are three key trends that marketers should pay attention to in 2019.
Miles Morales, the lead character, is the new America. Morales, who has an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, is part of one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This group grew by 3% from July 2015 to July 2016. In the same 12 months, the non-Hispanic white population grew by just 5,000 people. As America continues to become more ethnically diverse, understanding how members of this multiethnic segment relate to each of their cultures will be critical in creating meaningful brand relationships that drive growth.
The Spanish language is still strong in the U.S. Much has been written on the demise of the Spanish language in the U.S. in 2018. However, with over 37 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. and growing, Spanish isn’t going away anytime soon. “Into the Spider-Verse” took a big leap forward in showcasing this by including Spanish dialogue with no subtitles. This seemingly small move points to a broader cultural turning point, with Spanish becoming such an integral part of U.S. culture, that it no longer warrants an English translation. Some companies have embraced this tactic in their creative, a trend that will continue in 2019.
Multicultural movies make more money. That’s a fact marketers must grapple with in 2019, according to a University of California, Los Angeles study chronicled here. Diversity is no longer a nice-to-have; it is a business imperative. Hollywood’s recent success isn’t a fluke. The demographic numbers are there, the purchasing power numbers are there, and the return on investment is there. The question is no longer, should I engage in a multicultural marketing effort? The question now is: Why are we not engaged in a multicultural marketing effort?
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the perfect bookend to a banner year for multicultural marketing successes. It also fittingly points to what works and what needs to be worked on by marketers in 2019. As America continues to explore its diversity through popular culture, marketers need to be aware of the changing cultural climate to keep their brand relevant in 2019 and beyond.