Multicultural marketing is no longer a niche business. From Cheerios in 2013 to Coca-Cola in 2014, plenty of big-name businesses have moved into a more culturally aware advertising space. While initial responses were mixed in certain segments, the content itself has made a real connection with previously untapped consumers.

The consumer market continues to grow in its diversity, and brands must establish real connections with multicultural audiences if they want to remain relevant in the future.

Obstacles Standing in the Way

While a number of brands have become increasingly sensitive toward gender, race, nationality, and even religion with their marketing, just as many still leave the multicultural market untapped.

Part of this has to do with a lack of knowledge. As members of a multicultural agency, my team and I often find ourselves in educator roles. Some clients fail to see either the importance of diversity in marketing or the multicultural angle of their product offerings.

If a lack of knowledge isn't keeping brands from multicultural marketing, then their business priorities are. Even if marketers recognize the importance of a strategy geared toward diversity, the organizations they represent may not agree, making it difficult to push initiatives forward.

In fact, an estimated 36 percent of organizations cited a low business priority as the top reason why they've yet to diversify their marketing.

Money compounds the diversification issue even further. With 34 percent of companies feeling they don't budget for multicultural campaigns, it can be difficult to find the funds--regardless of whether you see the need.

The Real Melting Pot

Simply by looking at the numbers, you can see the growing importance of a multicultural view when it comes to marketing initiatives:

1. Rapid growth of our multicultural population: In the U.S., 38 percent of the population has a multicultural background--that works out to 120 million people. Of those people, 40 million are foreign-born. What's more, the multicultural population will continue to grow by 2.3 million each year, and that's all while the white population declines.

2. Strong buying power of multicultural segments: U.S. multicultural buying power has increased from $661 billion in 1990 to $3.4 trillion in 2014. This represents a 405 percent increase, which is more than double the increase in the buying power of the entire country.

3. Cost efficiency of multicultural campaigns: The costs associated with ethnic media are much more efficient than general market media. The budget for one 30-second commercial on a national network could equal the budget for an entire multicultural campaign. This shift in return on investment is far too massive to ignore.

As more and more brands move toward multicultural marketing, those that ignore these segments risk losing market share in a big way. You must find the funds, recognize the ethnic angle of your products or services, and develop campaigns that truly resonate with multicultural consumers. Trust me; your competitors are already in the game.

This article was co-authored by Jessica Gatti, vice president of client strategy at Gravity.

Published on: May 16, 2016