Multi Cultural Marketing

Multicultural Marketing: Starbucks’ Cultural Adaptation

For a global brand and the largest coffee house chain, Starbucks had humble beginnings. Due to its successful marketing strategy, today Starbucks has around 31000 stores in the world. So, what did Starbucks do differently?

The success and acceptance of Starbucks by different cultures come from its carefully planned marketing strategy – Multicultural Marketing. 


Multicultural marketing focuses on connecting with diverse audiences, specifically those whose culture falls outside the majority market. 

The background of consumers plays a huge role in affecting how they consume content, products, and services influenced by their language, traditions, customs, beliefs, and experiences. Multicultural marketing, also called as inclusive marketing stresses upon understanding these influences and using them to communicate with the target customers. It is the practice of tailoring marketing efforts specifically to local communities, cultural practices, and unique identities.

Every market leader brand from Coca-Cola to Unilever has launched multicultural campaigns during all these years. These range from reverse-racism ads to soda campaigns depicting patriotism which make a powerful statement against racial prejudice. 

One of the ideal illustrations is the patriotic Super Bowl ad by Coca-Cola featuring a hijab-clad woman who professes her love for her nation. The commercial embraces multiculturalism and rejects racial prejudice faced by many Muslim Americans in the United States.


Multicultural marketing goes beyond a strategic tactic and is more a responsibility for marketers to consider inclusivity and multicultural perspectives in their brand narratives. If done right, it gives rise to brand awareness, loyalty, and builds genuine customer relationships.

Consumers often make purchasing decisions based on social, personal, cultural, and physiological factors so the companies should conduct adequate market research before customizing their strategies towards different segments of consumers. The marketing strategies can accomplish to appeal to the market once the marketer knows what elements entice a multicultural consumer to purchase.

The importance of the same could be understood from America’s fast-food chain, Starbucks present almost everywhere in the world. 

With the help of its better adaptation of multicultural marketing, Starbucks can adapt to the tastes of different cultures, managing to convince consumers in other locations to drink coffee, an impressive approach particularly in Asia where tea is the preferred drink.

Starbucks believes in carrying out extensive market research on the history, culture, and taste preferences of the locals before setting up a store at the target location. It devices its menu to fit the needs of the local consumers without compromising its signature brand. For instance:


  • In Japan, Starbucks created the right atmosphere at its outlets in line with the country’s culture. The brand offers localized food and drinks while the servings are smaller and less sweet than the items sold in its American stores.
  • Starbucks has been an aspiration brand in China. As the Chinese consumer love to meet in groups, so the company has stores in China comprising tables that can be put together to accommodate groups. In these markets, Starbucks first started serving tea, allowing the consumers to become comfortable with the brand, post which they offered their signature products to them.
  • In Saudi Arabia, the logo of Starbucks had to be changed into a crown with waves, preceding the mermaid because the topless mermaid in the company’s logo was viewed as pornographic. While the women are served in the family section, there are separate sections for men.
  • The French coffee consumers were initially snobbish and thought of Starbucks as a low-quality overpriced coffee brand. Starbucks in response to their resistance served them with Vienesse coffee, a hot coffee (or chocolate with cream), along with offerings of some continental items.

These instances rightly portray innovative multicultural marketing tactics that Starbucks used to create market superiority in different markets it catered to.

To sum up, brands need to display a genuine understanding of the needs and roots of their consumers in their marketing strategies to survive because multicultural marketing is not more a niche. It is the new mainstream. The brands which fail to understand this will be left behind in the race.


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