When Diversity Backfires: The Asymmetric Role of Multicultural Marketing on Brand Perception

60 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2023

See all articles by Esther Uduehi

Esther Uduehi

University of Washington - Department of Marketing and International Business

Julian Saint Clair

Loyola Marymount University

Mitch Hamilton

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Americus Reed

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Marketing

Date Written: November 13, 2023

Abstract

More brands are now expanding their market to new consumers by displaying cultural diversity in marketing campaigns—but the risks are unclear. This article explores the role of the brand’s characteristics in multicultural marketing. Our findings suggest that when brands launch a new multicultural marketing campaign, it may be well-received if the brand’s original focus was on the needs of nonmarginalized consumers. However, for brands with a focus on the needs of marginalized consumers (i.e., marginalized-focused brands), such a campaign may be perceived as selling out, thereby negatively impacting consumers’ reactions. Six studies with Black and White U.S. consumers explore this novel “sellout effect” across various product categories and for consequential behaviors. Inclusion is identified as a key mechanism, mitigation strategies are explored, and implications for theory and practice are discussed. Findings highlight the importance of diversity marketing, understanding marginalization for consumers and brands, and the need for research that considers race and ethnicity.

Keywords: diversity, inclusion

JEL Classification: psychology

Suggested Citation

Uduehi, Esther and Saint Clair, Julian and Hamilton, Mitch and Reed, Americus, When Diversity Backfires: The Asymmetric Role of Multicultural Marketing on Brand Perception (November 13, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4631628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4631628

Esther Uduehi (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Department of Marketing and International Business ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

Julian Saint Clair

Loyola Marymount University ( email )

7900 Loyola Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States

Mitch Hamilton

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Americus Reed

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Marketing ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States
215-898-0651 (Phone)
215-898-2534 (Fax)

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