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Multicultural Marketing – what’s changed?!

Multicultural Marketing – what’s changed?!

On his first anniversary of joining Etcom, Thang Ngo looks back (and forward) at the changing multicultural marketing landscape. 

Firstly let me make this admission – in terms of multicultural, ethnic, LOTE (language other than English), CALD (cultural and linguistically diverse) industry – I’m long in the tooth.

Around two decades long in the tooth.

I’ve worked on the client side (Star City), agency (Mosaica, UM, Etcom), media (SBS), community (elected local government councillor). Now as Etcom general manager, it’s been a long, and hopefully lasting, flirtation with multicultural marketing.


In the early days, the ethnic media choices were limited – print and radio were pretty much your only option when it comes to reaching multicultural audiences. Back then, even on public transport, you could spot folks reading Chieu Duong, Sing Tao, Neos Kosmos or La Fiamma. At the appointed time, people sat in their living room to listen to SBS Radio, Rete Italia or another station in their language.

Back then, ethnic print and radio had particularly strong reach, and were, compared to ‘mainstream’ media rates, very cost effective.

Fast forward to today. You don’t see that many commuters struggle with broadsheets like the Australian Chinese Daily – in fact, even in the mainstream, you don’t see that many people struggle with unfolding The Australian or Sydney Morning Herald (which has since gone tabloid). When they have headphones on, they’re likely to be selecting from their digital music selection stored on their smartphone. Young, Asian pop fanatics are more likely to get their fix on YouTube than TV.

In Australia today, online advertising has overtaken TV in terms of advertising spending.

What about in Ethnic media?

Despite the landscape shifting to in-language digital and social media, this still isn’t reflected in advertising spend. Print and to a lesser extent, radio still rule over their digital counterpart.

Don’t believe me? If you’ve done a multicultural marketing campaign recently, what percentage of your budget were allocated to print and radio? I’ll bet you, most of the time it will be over 75% and in some cases 100% of the total budget.

This flies in the face of audience preference.

Take the Australian Chinese community for example. For the longest time, in the absence of audited media consumption data, print was considered the key channel to reach Chinese audiences in Australia. Think about it, do we believe that a young, educated, affluent community who comes from China – the home of the world’s largest PC maker (Lenovo), third largest mobile makers (Lenovo/Motorola), with one of the largest social media user-base (weibo, wechat, Qzone etc), do we honestly think they mainly read Chinese newspapers?

social media

According to Statista, QQ, WhatsApp, QZone and WeChat – all popular social media options for Chinese rank in the top social media sites in the world in terms of users.

What I am proud of, is that Etcom is now more digital and social media ready than ever before. In my opinion, Etcom continues to deliver many innovative firsts for our clients.

In the past 12 months, I’ve been particularly proud of our work, particularly:

St.George: Australia’s Longest Lunar Lunch Table

This year, Etcom helped St.George rewrite the record books by putting on the St.George Longest Lunar New Year Lunch Table – 20 metres long with 60 hungry diners – the longest in Australia. Over 1,200 people applied to be a part of this historic event. They applied online and via social media through WeChat and Weibo. This successful activation was supported by 100% digital media support.

In-language site list

Today, Etcom has developed the capacity to reach multicultural eyeballs via websites and social media whether these publishers are based in Australia or overseas. So it’s no longer an excuse to say there isn’t a local popular website in that language. We now have the capacity to reach IPs in Australia reading popular overseas websites.

Not all social need to be in-language

Last year’s St.George Diwali campaign is a case in point. Over 95% of Indians in Australia speak English well or very well – the Diwali campaign is all about celebrating the colour and brightness of this festival through video content that was seeded via Facebook, YouTube and Google Display Network – all targeting Indian viewers.

Behaviour Change

Working with #ogilvychange, Etcom has developed a robust behaviour change model for Chinese audiences. Beyond awareness, our behaviour change model helps us to shape action by taking into account key motivators for the Chinese community.

We believe this is a world first – a valuable asset for commercial as well as health social marketing campaigns.

Etcom has already successfully applied this model for two clients, so this Etcom proprietary resource is not theory, but works in the real world.

Multicultural media, what’s changed?

A lot. At least in media consumption.

The challenge is to make sure our campaigns keep up.

Thang Ngo is general manager, Etcom – follow him on twitter.

Social media use by a young person in Hong Kong

Social media use by a young person in Hong Kong

Looking at social media through the eyes of a young Hong Konger!

For those born in Generation Y, social media is not only something for fun but a necessity*. This is no exception among Hong Kong youngsters, according to Tina Tang, Etcom’s Intern from Hong Kong.

From 2006 to 2012, it was a hot trend to use Facebook for sharing photos and posts when I was still a high school student. It has been getting popular among all  age ranges since then. Thanks to its sustained popularity, even our parents and teachers have Facebook accounts nowadays. Besides that, the rule of sending and accepting friend requests is not as strict as in real life. As long as you know that person in some capacity being ‘Facebook friends’ is definitely not a big deal. As time goes by, eventually many of us will gather thousands of friends on Facebook, from a range of people who have come in and out of our life.

People utilize this advantage and regard Facebook as a platform on which they can announce important news or a new page in their life, like getting into the university, graduation, having a new relationship, getting married… No need to forward emails, send invitation cards or make phone calls, all they have to do is simply type a few words while sitting on their comfortable couch – sharing the good news to the world within 5 seconds via the power of Facebook.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. While enjoying the convenience brought by the great network, we are losing our freedom of expression at the same time. Due to the fear of letting our family members, teachers and friends who we are not familiar with, have a glance at our private life, we avoid sharing thoughts, emotions and views towards some issues freely on Facebook.

Gradually, loyalty on Facebook is shifting to Instagram, Here’s why…

1. Keep our privacy 

Luckily, the older generation still haven’t realised the presence of Instagram. This explains why young people rather reveal their thoughts and emotions only with their peers on Instagram instead of Facebook.

Moreover, a Facebook friend is a mutual relationship. In other words, once the friend request is accepted, both sides have the right to view each other’s updates.  Instead, on Instagram, we can choose who we follow and who to become our followers with the function of turning the account private. In this way, we can finally enjoy privacy (being visible only to people we give access to) which hardly exists on Facebook.

One bonus benefit is that the content appearing on the news feed is all we are willing to read, without overloading advertisements and posts from so-called “friends”.

2. Allow consistent photo quality on the news feed

On Facebook, we can post a whole album of one event or activity so we don’t care much about the quality of photos, while we only post the best photo of each event on Instagram -otherwise successively posting photos of the same event will be too annoying-and hopefully the photo gathers likes as more as it can. To make it more perfect, before letting this masterpiece expose to the world, we are paying greater attention to selecting the most suitable filter. Not to mention that some of us still persist tuning levels of every aspect including brightness, temperature, contrast, saturation, etc. It makes a big difference, it’s much more enjoyable when you open Instagram to view the best professional shots.

3. Construct an ideal self

Photos on Instagram represent who you are. When one gets into your account, first impression comes up in his mind. Many of my friends, including myself, seriously take account of EVERY photo that we post on our own little corners and seek consistent style across the whole account just to tell others we are unique and cool. For instance, some Instagram users insist on posting photos only taken under daylight to ensure every single piece is bright, white and clear. They dress up in Mori girl (forest girl) style, being immersed in the nature harmoniously. Usually this group of people is described as “Artsy”(文青)in Chinese-speaking regions. How about their captions? Poetic sentences in written Chinese or English are their trademarks. “Shallow” content like “Oh yeah! Holiday starts finally!” are certainly unacceptable if you hold the belief “I am artsy”.  You can see what I mean in the Instagram post below from @sabrinasa.

View this post on Instagram

the sound of the sea

A post shared by Sabrina 張蔓莎 (@sabrinasa) on


4. Satisfaction from likes

To teens, the Internet is everything. The more likes they get, the more satisfied and confident they will be. On Facebook, the “mysterious algorithm” displays the photos or posts from a selected number of people that you are familiar with or have frequent connections with you. There are even various groups, pages, videos and advertisements which always distract the users from the checking out their friends’ updates. Sometimes, your friends would love to give you likes on Facebook, but they just miss your posts.

In contrast, gaining likes is much easier on Instagram because the content is more focused and people will not easily miss your post unless they do not read all the posts along the timeline. Don’t forget, wisely making use of hashtags is one of the popular strategies youngsters adopt to receive likes globally on Instagram.

Today, almost everyone has a Facebook account in Hong Kong. However, Instagram has won over most Hong Kong teens’ hearts, including mine.


* In 2014, Cisco Connected World Technology Report has found that, for about one third of Generation Y, staying connected to the Internet is essential like air, food and water while two thirds would choose the Internet over a car.