Multicultural Marketing - Part I

The United States is the home to over 290 million people. Through the years, people of all different colors, religions, and cultures have converged and eagerly joined the quest to follow their own American dream. For marketers, this onslaught of minority groups has created a diverse and dynamic generation of sheer buying power. And in recent years, the lines that once divided us, both in society and on the spreadsheets of our media plans, are slowly beginning to disappear. This melding together of societies and cultures has made "multicultural" a word often exclaimed proudly in the boardrooms of advertising agencies across the country. Nearly four years after the 2000 census forced marketers to take a good look at this country's increasingly diverse population, advertisers have come to embrace the multicultural way of thinking, but have often moved forward with general marketing efforts across cultures that have ended up backfiring. "The younger generation (of minorities) especially has their radar up, and will push back when they feel like they are overtly being singled out by general market advertisers," said Lorraine Miller, vice president-research at African-American-owned Burrell Communications.



The ethnic community is in itself a viable and promising target that is worthy of the attention it is now receiving from advertisers. And luckily, this multicultural target is still growing bigger every single day.

Besides growing larger in sheer numbers of people, many minority incomes are also on the upswing. Census 2000 figures show that 50 percent of married, black couples are making more than $50,000 a year, distinguishing themselves as the holder of the strongest buying power of any U.S. minority group. In total, black households had a total of $631 billion in overall income.

The title of "Asian American" came after the release of the 2000 Census. In actuality, most "Asian Americans" actually consider themselves a variety of cultural segments, including Chinese American or Japanese American. Whatever you call these groups, with a population of nearly 13 million consumers, Asian-Americans have become the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Although the sheer numbers may be small, their buying habits and purchasing power has become increasingly intriguing to marketers.

Whether you are talking about blacks, Asians, or Hispanics, chances are you can find them surrounding the urban areas of the country. Take, for instance, Los Angeles, "where one can find 10 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population within a twenty mile radius of Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium," explained Shelly Lipton, president of Community Direct. The Hispanic population is also growing in New York, Miami, and Chicago. Asian Americans make up nearly 11 percent of California's population.

Each segment has its dynamic features, features that one might not even be able to comprehend unless immersed in the culture. In fact, some have gone so far as to claim that lack of diversity in the advertising industry itself is to blame for the inadequacy of general marketing efforts aimed at the minority sector.

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