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Marketing expert Peter Spears explains why culture is ‘more than a hashtag’

Beam Suntory Multicultural Marketing Manager Peter Spears (Photo credit: Pennie Photography)

Peter Spears is the multicultural marketing manager for Beam Suntory Brands, which includes Courvoisier Cognac, Effen Vodka, Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam bourbons and Hornitos tequila. In this capacity, he engages consumers who identify as multicultural and builds programs that suit their interests. In addition to launching activations for nationally recognized events, Spears also taps into local markets, maintaining a firm grip on the pulse of his local community and beyond. With over a decade in the spirits industry, Spears has all but built a legacy based on his understanding of popular culture and his ability to enhance brand equity.

Mr. Spears recently took a moment to share with rolling out his insights on marketing trends and what drives popular culture.

How has digital marketing changed marketing programs and campaigns?

Digital marketing has given major corporations, and even small start-ups the ability to target their core audience[s] and build campaigns with precision. The old way of doing business was a crapshoot. Digital marketing allows you to identify a target demographic. The data tells you what they like and dislike and you can build your campaign from there. In the spirits industry, this is what you call “fishing where the fish are.” The real marketing starts when you have to find new fish!

How important are multicultural agencies to advertising?
Including agencies that specialize in multicultural marketing [is] extremely important in advertising. As time passes, more and more people are identifying with a multicultural heritage. Young consumers are erasing the traditional norms that classified swaths of people as one thing and giving new meaning to the term multicultural. The lines are slowly being blurred and companies have to keep up in order to survive.

The term culture is being used by everyone in the marketing profession. What does culture mean to you? 
For me culture is a shared value. It’s [an] unwritten code or [a] belief system that governs you and individuals like you. The term culture is definitely overused and sometimes even misused. One of the common misuses is when someone references culture as a blank statement to illustrate how authentic something is. Excuse my language but there is fake sh– in “the culture” too. Culture has to mean something. Culture has to represent something bigger than you. It has to be more than a hashtag. It has to be in you.

What two consumer market audiences do you know best?
In my 10 plus years of building campaigns and marketing to diverse audiences, the common theme is family and upward mobility. No matter what our ethnicity is, most of us value family and the ability to improve ourselves. Usually, the two are linked and allow us to elevate or change our family dynamics as we grow professionally and personally in the process. Once brands start to strike those chords, they are on their way to building loyalty amongst consumer groups.