Strap yourself in because this process can be a bumpy ride. However, it’s worth every rough spot you encounter. Regardless of culture, many people are uncomfortable thinking too deeply about health issues. Guilt, denial, fear, and lack of understanding can compound the problem. Here are a few ideas to break through the obstacles on your way to changing the mindset of your multicultural market.
1. Talk the talk.
If possible, speak to people in their own language. Find someone capable of culturally adapting content on a regular basis or recruit an employee who is fluent in both English and the other language. If you try to explain concepts without the necessary cultural filter and without a solid understanding of what the other is saying, you will be fighting an uphill battle.
2. Don’t be shy.
When it comes to healthy living, you don’t have to be perfect yourself in order to help other people understand its importance. You may even still be learning yourself; in that case, share your ideas and experiences. Be understanding of what matters most to them. Take the time to learn about their culture and which of their customs may be centered around unhealthy choices. When you have this information, you can look for alternative answers that will both respect their heritage and help them establish healthier routines.
3. Health and fitness start in the kitchen.
Spend some time researching your market’s traditional foods—both the healthy and the less healthy ones. Help them establish an eating plan that is at least 80% based on the healthier food selections. When necessary, find substitutions that can be incorporated into the less healthier meals to improve them in subtle ways. Suggest adding more veggies and other ways to reduce the fat and sugar levels. If you “healthify” their traditional food, your goal of increasing their daily health considerations is well on its way to being accomplished.
The word “exercise” can be intimidating to many people, especially if they haven’t actually worked out in a very long time. It connotes going to a gym, which lots of folks just don’t do. Instead, get the word to be associated with other activities with which they are more familiar—and comfortable. Find out what activities or recreational interests are traditionally found in their culture—belly dancing, salsa dancing, martial arts, yoga, gardening, even just plain old walking. These will likely be easier to incorporate into their daily routines. Once you have that information, you can help them determine ways to maximize those activities and fit them in to their regular schedules.
Getting your multicultural markets to become healthier is a challenge, but the crucial point is all about knowledge, understanding, and communication. The more you know about a group’s culture and traditions, the more you can help them reach their goals. Try reaching them through weekly blog posts, magazine articles, sponsoring cooking classes, or one-on-one meetings. Remember, when you take the time and show that you care, your market will feel it and appreciate your efforts.
Gabriel Paredes is an Account Supervisor at Prime Access.