Black History Month felt different this year. There was more history in my timelines, more posts with vintage Black family photographs dating to the 1800s and more revelations about the impact of slavery and racism on society, systems and culture.
Generally, companies appeared to follow Black History Month advice extolled in recent years to celebrate achievement, foster meaningful dialogue and make changes to realize greater diversity, equity and inclusion. However, a key framework created at the height of the Jim Crow era is still a fixture in marketing best practice today: acculturation—defined by John Wesley Powell in an 1880 U.S. Bureau of Ethnology report as “psychological changes induced by cross-cultural imitation.”
In marketing practice, acculturation is used to predict media consumption and buying behaviors. It’s primarily applied to the Hispanic community given they are the largest U.S. ethnic group, comprising almost 20% of the country. Marketing acculturation segments Hispanic immigrants and citizens into groups based on three levels of assimilation into American culture: unacculturated, bicultural and acculturated. For the unacculturated who have not assimilated into American culture, their home country values and language are most dominant in their routines and customer journeys. It also fundamentally implies that unacculturated mindsets and experiences are the most “un-American.”