Kmart LogoThe first clue that something needed to change was the shopping carts. Or, more specifically, what was in them. Hispanic customers were snapping up styles from Jaclyn Smith, a Kmart designer meant to target the general market.

“Jaclyn Smith was selling to Hispanics and Jaclyn isn’t centered in the popular culture of the Hispanic market,” said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer at Kmart. “We had a lot of diverse ethnicity on the floor, and a lot of cross shopping between products and segments.”

Armed with that knowledge, Mr. Snyder began analyzing how the retailer was marketing to ethnic consumers. Kmart was, it turned out, presenting separate creative briefs to its agency as well as referring to the groups as completely separate segments internally. For its agency, that meant receiving a brief for the general market, one for the Hispanic market, one for the African-American market, and so on.

“Initially, that made some sense to me, because there are cultural nuances,” Mr. Snyder said. “But, what occurred to me was we had this big gap. It didn’t seem we were reflecting the full ethnic makeup of the Kmart-shopper base in any single communication, and that was very problematic.”

To close that gap, Kmart stopped thinking about minority consumers as separate segments and began presenting its agency with one single brief per campaign. On the agency side, that means that DraftFCB’s multicultural experts now have a seat at the table full-time. In the past, those people would come into the room only when it was time to talk about ethnic consumers.

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