Half of Australia isn’t hearing you, and shouting won’t make a difference

Presented for the first time at Mumbrella360 last week, The Growth D_Stillery's culturally and linguistically diverse Australians research provides an insight into how marketers can better connect with this audience and maximise brand relationships, through three major phases.

Data shows 51.5%^ of Australia’s population were born overseas, or have a parent who was. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians have made numerous major sacrifices throughout their lives. When they begin a new life in Australia, they are pushed and pulled between two worlds – their home country of origin and life in Australia. This means overcoming new challenges such as having the courage to start from scratch and dreaming in one language while navigating day-to-day life in another.

But what does this have to do with marketing?

The Growth D_Stillery, in partnership with TRA, found that marketers are failing to authentically connect with the unique CALD identity – and in doing so, brands are missing out on huge commercial opportunities.

Dan Krigstein, director of The Growth D_Stillery’s Growth Intelligence Centre, says we are fundamentally getting it wrong, as only one-in-three with a CALD identity feel Australians see them as Australian.

He says marketers tend to fixate on splitting audiences, finding subsets of subsets – furthering the disconnect CALD Australians feel from the wider community. Brands struggle to connect meaningfully, with only 16% of CALD Australians seeing brands communicate effectively with their identity. A shocking 7% see brands feature people in their advertisements that CALD Australians can identify with.

Dan Krigstein, director, The Growth D_Stillery’s Growth Intelligence Centre

How can CALD Australians feel Australian when, for example, there is an Indian and Asian section in the supermarket, but no Italian? Pasta sauce is just pasta sauce. Brands perpetuate the disconnect, and CALD communities are not yet intertwined like their non-CALD counterparts, they are different.

So, what can brands do instead to understand and engage authentically with the CALD identity to intertwine them in the same way?

CALD Australians move through a journey – starting at the beginning. The arrival, where they ride the thrill of the dream. Then, they get the reality check, where things are different or harder. And finally, they move into the turbulence – a tension or pull between their old world and new.

It’s not perfectly linear, according to Krigstein. But CALD Australians traverse the journey back and forth, and brands need to do the same to better support and represent the community – and there are three main phases. Retain, adapt, and adopt.


Marketers must learn to acknowledge and champion the rituals that are deeply anchored to CALD heritages and celebrate them – Krigstein says brands should make it special by sharing these rituals through campaigns and strategies.

Retain the defining aspects of the CALD identity – religion, family values, the role of food, spirituality, celebrations. These are essential to how CALD Australians navigate society, and interact with communities.


If marketers are part of the infrastructure of daily life, they should help enable CALD Australians by not making assumptions, but rather informing, supporting and empowering. Marketers should provide the map for the journey taken, according to Krigstein.

CALD Australians came to this country for a reason, and often anchor into their cultural heritage because it’s not easy to navigate a different way of life. Marketers should learn to adapt to their defining identity characteristics, and shift these towards the ‘Australian way’.


On the other hand however, marketers must show, invite and engage CALD Australians to share their identity if they want to truly build strong brand-consumer relationships. Be the shop window, put them in the picture and be the dream they longed for.

Adopting the CALD identity into marketing strategies will improve the relationship – CALD Australians will feel more supported, better represented, and the statistic of 2 in 3 who don’t feel seen by the wider community may change.

Sources: ^ABS Census 2021, GIC x TRA, ‘Delivering a meaningful connection to our CALD communities report’, July 2023. This study measured 30 local and global brands from a mix of categories. Brands were rated on statements ‘Is for people like me’ and ‘Features people in their advertising I can identify with’. Sample size n=2,235.


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