And while articles and conferences about our multicultural society have popped up all around the country trying to explain the idiosyncrasies and unique aspects of the minority population, many have found there is no substitution for actually delving into the population themselves.
"In order to reach the true trendsetters, you must be where they are," explains Ferguson. "Liquor advertisers in particular are getting in the trenches and meeting their target audience in their own setting when they are just out having a good time."
The recent revival of grassroots marketing plays especially well with minority groups, since so much of their life revolves around both their families and their communities. Sponsored by Community Direct and Alternative and Innovative Marketing, the Hispanic Market Immersion Tour puts marketers, in September, smack in the middle of the neighborhoods, festivals, and family gatherings that make up L.A.'s flourishing Hispanic community.
"We are not going to tell them how to do a media plan," explains Lipton. "Rather, we want to show them all of the ways they can tune into a particular market. There is a distinct difference between catering to Hispanics and really understanding Hispanics."
The recent advertising push for McDonald's McGriddles is an example of advertising that crossed cultures successfully. The 30-second spot is a multi-layered media experience that tells the story of a young man hanging out with his friends. The spot culminates with a McGriddles bedtime-snack ending, equipped with graffiti-style graphic animation overlays. "We layered both traditional and non-traditional media and attention-grabbing advertising," remarks Miller.
Studies have shown that Asian Americans' media of choice includes television, newspapers, and radio. KSCI-TV is Southern California's preeminent Asian language station, delivering the news in 14 different languages, and has also been active within the community in which they air. Many advertisers have benefited greatly by getting involved in flagship events within the Asian community, such as The Harvest Moon Festival and the Luna New Year Parade.
With nearly 70 percent of Asian-Americans born outside the United States, chances are there is another language other than English spoken in the home. This is why many marketers have found Asian language media the best way to initially reach these consumers with their message. In fact, there are over 600 in-language publications targeting the top six Asian American groups.
Yet, in recent months, the category of Asian-American, English-language magazines targeting the younger generation of Asian Americans has become increasingly more crowded. Yin magazine launched in June, following similarly fashion-focused magazines, such as California-based Audrey and New York-based Jade magazine.
Although these types of magazines have yet to hit circulation numbers worth the attention of widespread media buyers, some advertisers have seen the strength that a targeted magazine can have. "We have advertisers such as Samsung, Budweiser, State Farm Insurance, and Michelob already on board," explains editor in chief and publisher of Audrey magazine James Ryu. "Our overall goal with the magazine is to become financially stable, which may take awhile. Before we came along, no one really attempted anything in the women's magazine, so we certainly feel there is a market for this magazine."
Print, overall, has become the media of choice to reach all sorts of minority segments in the population. A recent study by the National Golf Foundation found that affluent African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans played more than 64 million rounds of golf last year alone. Statistics such as this spurred the creation of new magazine The Green, published by Vision Media and Communications, intriguing premiere issue advertisers such as carmakers Bentley and BMW. Efforts are currently underway for many general-market, print outlets to find ways to carve their own piece of the multicultural marketplace.
African-Americans are also known for their allegiance to radio. Because of this, Proctor and Gamble recently struck a deal to sponsor the "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" in order to test the sales effectiveness of packaged goods in urban radio formats.
Nearly every smart advertiser out there has budgeted dollars to reach at least one of the ethnic targets. Whereas Hispanics and blacks come first to mind for many buyers, the Asian-American community in general has been one that has fallen under many marketers' radar.
The Cable Advertising Bureau's (CAB) recent multicultural advertising push has stirred up much conversation, especially regarding its push for a multicultural upfront to follow closely after the completion of the traditional media upfront, encouraging agency buyers to buy time on outlets that reach minority viewers. This most recent push by the CAB has actually been in the works for nearly five years, and agencies have jumped on the chance to receive the new 2004 to 2005 multicultural guide.
"We sent an e-mail blast to 700 to 800 planners and agencies, and in less than two days, we received a 20 percent response rate, which is unbelievable," said Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, the director of marketing development at CAB. "We also sent the guide to the chief marketing officers of the top 250 advertisers, since that's really where the budgets come from."
In recent months, Nielsen's local people meters have been the topic of conversation with a number of advocacy groups claiming that these audience samples do not accurately measure TV viewing, especially among black and Hispanic households. Look for this debate to continue.
There is no data, no article, and no speech that can accurately communicate or demonstrate what it is to live as a Hispanic, black, or Asian in the United States today. Moreover, there is no formula to follow when it comes to reaching these distinct and diverse populations. Yet they represent a target that will be here for years to come, and whose time it is to receive the attention it deserves.