New York -- Speakers at the recent Multicultural Marketing
& Media Conference here offered a wealth of population statistics on the minority
explosion in the United States.
But they also suggested that advertisers bone up on
qualitative research data to truly reach ethnic consumers.
Those targeting Asian Americans may be at a disadvantage,
however, since there's a shortage of product usage data.
Although the Sept. 29 conference, nicknamed "M3,"
was presented by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, there was surprisingly little
cable-specific hype at the sessions, except for a "programming showcase"
CAB president Joseph Ostrow -- noting that M3's first
outing drew 200-plus attendees, mostly from the advertising community -- felt that the
confab could be annual, or even more frequent -- perhaps as a segment of its other ad
To emphasize the growing clout of the minority market, Kang
& Lee Advertising Inc. vice president of strategic marketing Saul Gitlin cited data
indicating that the three main segments -- African Americans, Hispanics and Asians --
will, at 121 million strong, represent 36 percent of the U.S. populace come 2020.
That would be up sharply from 71 million, or one-quarter of
the U.S. population, in 1990. And those figures don't even include the influx of
Russian and Middle East immigrants, Gitlin said.
Moreover, "Minorities will become the majority of
Americans by the year 2050," according to American Demographics' Diversity in
America, a supplement given to each attendee by the CAB.
African Americans are currently the leading minority, at 35
million, or 12 percent, according to MBC Network CEO Alvin James.
Hispanics now total 31 million, or 11.3 percent, noted
Access Worldwide Communications Inc. vice president of marketing Gina Alvarez.
But a shakeup is due within ethnic media as early as 2001,
when Latinos are projected to overtake African Americans as the largest minority, Nielsen
Media Research vice president of Hispanic services Karen Plount said. Projections have
Hispanics accounting for 11 percent next year and nearly 14 percent by 2010.
Although the United States now has 10.8 million Asians (3.9
percent), Gitlin said, their annual growth rate will be so strong -- 5.2 percent, versus 3
percent for Latinos and 1.6 percent for African Americans -- that the group will hit 23
million by 2020.
Ethnic marketers need to keep in mind, however, that these
Asians come from many different countries and cultures.
Although Mexicans account for 63 percent of U.S. Latinos
and Puerto Ricans for 11 percent, Alvarez said, Hispanics originate from 20 different
nations. Similarly, Gitlin noted that 90 percent of Asian immigrants are from China, the
Philippines, Japan, India, Korea and Vietnam -- with the latter two groups growing at the
Despite these hot growth rates, Gitlin claimed that no
national packaged-goods or automotive marketer is targeting Asians. In contrast,
there's been so much activity in financial services that newcomers are "now in
danger of arriving fashionably late to the party."
Procter & Gamble Co. senior vice president of global
marketing Robert Wehling -- who hopes P&G's latest African American- and
Latino-targeted efforts (built around made-for-P&G magazines) will improve upon its
past inconsistent efforts -- promised, "The Asian-American market and other [ethnic]
markets" will eventually be added.
"The media that grow in the future," he said,
"are going to be the ones with the best research."
"Multicultural advertising is not just about getting
your Spanish or Chinese right," but about being relevant to advertisers'
prospects, Gitlin observed. Research plays a key role in attaining that relevancy.
However, accounts interested in the Asian sector face an
Gitlin and Admerasia general manager Atsuko Watanabe
concurred that marketing to Asians is hampered by a lack of syndicated research reports on
product usage and the like.
Much of the M3 conference dwelled on qualitative research
showing that ethnic Americans differ from the mainstream, as well as from other
nationalities -- and even within generations of the same nationality.
Wanla Cheng, a principal in Asia Link Consulting Group,
stressed that Asians from China, Japan, Korea and so on have very different "culture
personalities," so different strategies are required to reach them.
Asians as a whole tend to be "very
information-hungry," which extends into their comparison shopping for goods and
services, she said. "Advertising lends credibility [to brands] for them," she
added, cautioning, "They dislike 'fluff' copy, or what we call
They're status-conscious -- prone to "keeping up
with the Chongs," as she put it -- but also value-conscious. Moreover, they prefer
merchants that offer not only in-language ads, but also in-language customer services.
Related to that, Gitlin said that unlike the immigrants of
the early 1900s, who sought to assimilate linguistically and culturally, today's
immigrants consider it "very acceptable to maintain linguistic and cultural
Indeed, many African Americans feel the same about their
heritage, Yankelovich Partners project director Hal Quinley added.
Hispanics tend to show strong family interdependence,
Alvarez said. But some old-world concepts -- "machismo," which holds that men
are the family's provider and protector, and "marianismo," which holds that
women have a strong sense of self-sacrifice and low self-esteem -- will give way to the
modern, more successful "generation N" that "navigates comfortably in both
These "new Latinos" -- second- and
third-generation Hispanics ranging from their late teens into their 30s -- will multiply
through 2020, she added.
A.C. Nielsen Co. -- which tracks mainstream Americans'
product purchases via special UPC (unit processing code) scanners in 55,000 homes -- began
focusing on Hispanics in the fall of 1997 in Los Angeles, Homescan product manager Joe
Homescan gathers data from 725 homes: 500 new,
Spanish-language-only or Spanish-preferred households, plus 225 from its existing general
sample, who are bilingual or English-preferred households. But first, it had to hire
bilingual door-to-door personnel to build the sample, as well as translate materials into
As Nielsen Media Research found in gathering Spanish
TV/cable-ratings data, Plount said, "Cooperation from Spanish-speaking homes is tough
to obtain." Consequently, the ratings firm also uses a separate bilingual sales force
and materials to bolster participation. Its latest cooperation rate is 86.6 percent, she
Even though African Americans watch five more hours per
week of television than whites, Wimbley Group vice president and media director Zeline
Kelly-Bates warned that clients must maintain "the right programming
environment" for their messages.
"It must be culturally relevant," she said.
"Even 'flippers' will pause when they see an African-American face" on
BBDO Worldwide senior vice president of special markets
Doug Alligood indicated that advertisers can reach African Americans by buying at least
some of the top-rated primetime programs on the six major TV networks.
"The term 'general [market]' doesn't
mean white-only," he observed. Moreover, in the 1998-99 season,
African-American homes boosted 15 primetime shows by a full rating point or more, he said.
Still, BBDO found that most of the top 10 favorites among black viewers differed sharply
from those of the total audience.
Only a few mainstream hits -- like ABC's Monday
Night Football and CBS' Touched by an Angel, 60 Minutes and Walker,
Texas Ranger -- crossed over on both lists. Most African-American favorites were on
The WB Television Network and United Paramount Network, he noted.
Alligood said he could not do a similar study on cable
since sample sizes are so small.
Looking ahead, several speakers said the Internet would
become increasingly important in multicultural marketing, as it is in the general market.
"English will be the dominant Web language for only
three more years," Watanabe pointed out. By 2002, most Web users will be non-English,
young, upscale and Asian, she forecast.
Peter Yu, assistant vice president of Chinese and
Vietnamese marketing at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., also called the Web "a
high-growth area," adding, "[MetLife] will be addressing that very
aggressively" in 2000.