Those of us in Multicultural Marketing talk about biculturals all the time. We discuss how they live in two worlds and are able to easily navigate between Hispanic and American culture. And rightfully so, we motivate our clients to connect with this important group via cultural triggers such as music, food and sports. But what if there’s something else?
Instead of focusing on person-to-person relationships, which help define a bicultural via experiences that others introduce and engage the bicultural with, we’ll examine person-to-object relationships. Objects, or products to an extent, are a representation of a certain culture and of oneself. As such, I’ll introduce you to the importance of artwork, collectibles and antiques as a key qualifier and prime means of consumer identity.
We can all agree that art interpretation or meaning manifests from its creator, the context and the consumer. The creator has a vision or story that he or she artistically brings to life via many different forms. The context or place of the exhibition also tells a story. But more importantly for this discussion, the consumer interpretation is what we’ll focus on.
I would suggest that a consumer of art would find it difficult to explain why they are drawn to a particular work of art. Sure, there is a likely argument for the preference of a particular art form, but why we are subconsciously drawn to an art piece is what sets each of us apart. In particular, for the bicultural, the subconscious creates a gravitational pull to art that is a greater reflection of who they are (ethnically, racially and culturally). And this matters because of the push-pull phenomenon a bicultural undergoes as they “navigate” their two worlds. For the bicultural, art is a mirror reflecting to the world the cognitive and emotive attitudes that make up his or her identity. Research has proven that biculturals who wish to identify with one or more multiple ethnic identities find art as a convenient means.
A 2010 study conducted in Texas concluded that biculturals consume more artwork than monoculturals. The study argues that works of art are prime examples of material culture on which consumers can draw to negotiate symbolic meanings about themselves and others. In essence, as biculturals continue navigating multiple cultures to properly form an identity, they appear to exhibit a greater reliance on art (or material objects) to help ease the task of self-identity.
As marketers, in the way we look to differentiate our brands and culturally connect with the bicultural consumer, maybe art can be a conduit.