New York -- Speakers at the recent Multicultural Marketing& Media Conference here offered a wealth of population statistics on the minorityexplosion in the United States.
But they also suggested that advertisers bone up onqualitative 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 littlecable-specific hype at the sessions, except for a "programming showcase"luncheon.
CAB president Joseph Ostrow -- noting that M3's firstouting drew 200-plus attendees, mostly from the advertising community -- felt that theconfab could be annual, or even more frequent -- perhaps as a segment of its other adconferences.
To emphasize the growing clout of the minority market, Kang& Lee Advertising Inc. vice president of strategic marketing Saul Gitlin cited dataindicating 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 ofthe U.S. population, in 1990. And those figures don't even include the influx ofRussian and Middle East immigrants, Gitlin said.
Moreover, "Minorities will become the majority ofAmericans by the year 2050," according to American Demographics' Diversity inAmerica, a supplement given to each attendee by the CAB.
African Americans are currently the leading minority, at 35million, or 12 percent, according to MBC Network CEO Alvin James.
Hispanics now total 31 million, or 11.3 percent, notedAccess 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, NielsenMedia Research vice president of Hispanic services Karen Plount said. Projections haveHispanics accounting for 11 percent next year and nearly 14 percent by 2010.
Although the United States now has 10.8 million Asians (3.9percent), Gitlin said, their annual growth rate will be so strong -- 5.2 percent, versus 3percent for Latinos and 1.6 percent for African Americans -- that the group will hit 23million by 2020.
Ethnic marketers need to keep in mind, however, that theseAsians come from many different countries and cultures.
Although Mexicans account for 63 percent of U.S. Latinosand Puerto Ricans for 11 percent, Alvarez said, Hispanics originate from 20 differentnations. Similarly, Gitlin noted that 90 percent of Asian immigrants are from China, thePhilippines, Japan, India, Korea and Vietnam -- with the latter two groups growing at thefastest clip.
Despite these hot growth rates, Gitlin claimed that nonational packaged-goods or automotive marketer is targeting Asians. In contrast,there's been so much activity in financial services that newcomers are "now indanger of arriving fashionably late to the party."
Procter & Gamble Co. senior vice president of globalmarketing Robert Wehling -- who hopes P&G's latest African American- andLatino-targeted efforts (built around made-for-P&G magazines) will improve upon itspast 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 gettingyour 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 anobstacle.
Gitlin and Admerasia general manager Atsuko Watanabeconcurred that marketing to Asians is hampered by a lack of syndicated research reports onproduct usage and the like.
Much of the M3 conference dwelled on qualitative researchshowing that ethnic Americans differ from the mainstream, as well as from othernationalities -- 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 "culturepersonalities," so different strategies are required to reach them.
Asians as a whole tend to be "veryinformation-hungry," which extends into their comparison shopping for goods andservices, she said. "Advertising lends credibility [to brands] for them," sheadded, cautioning, "They dislike 'fluff' copy, or what we call'image' copy."
They're status-conscious -- prone to "keeping upwith the Chongs," as she put it -- but also value-conscious. Moreover, they prefermerchants that offer not only in-language ads, but also in-language customer services.
Related to that, Gitlin said that unlike the immigrants ofthe early 1900s, who sought to assimilate linguistically and culturally, today'simmigrants consider it "very acceptable to maintain linguistic and culturalidentities."
Indeed, many African Americans feel the same about theirheritage, 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 menare the family's provider and protector, and "marianismo," which holds thatwomen have a strong sense of self-sacrifice and low self-esteem -- will give way to themodern, more successful "generation N" that "navigates comfortably in bothcultures."
These "new Latinos" -- second- andthird-generation Hispanics ranging from their late teens into their 30s -- will multiplythrough 2020, she added.
A.C. Nielsen Co. -- which tracks mainstream Americans'product purchases via special UPC (unit processing code) scanners in 55,000 homes -- beganfocusing on Hispanics in the fall of 1997 in Los Angeles, Homescan product manager JoeCassano said.
Homescan gathers data from 725 homes: 500 new,Spanish-language-only or Spanish-preferred households, plus 225 from its existing generalsample, who are bilingual or English-preferred households. But first, it had to hirebilingual door-to-door personnel to build the sample, as well as translate materials intoSpanish.
As Nielsen Media Research found in gathering SpanishTV/cable-ratings data, Plount said, "Cooperation from Spanish-speaking homes is toughto obtain." Consequently, the ratings firm also uses a separate bilingual sales forceand materials to bolster participation. Its latest cooperation rate is 86.6 percent, sheadded.
Even though African Americans watch five more hours perweek of television than whites, Wimbley Group vice president and media director ZelineKelly-Bates warned that clients must maintain "the right programmingenvironment" for their messages.
"It must be culturally relevant," she said."Even 'flippers' will pause when they see an African-American face" ona program.
BBDO Worldwide senior vice president of special marketsDoug Alligood indicated that advertisers can reach African Americans by buying at leastsome of the top-rated primetime programs on the six major TV networks.
"The term 'general [market]' doesn'tmean
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 sharplyfrom those of the total audience.
Only a few mainstream hits -- like ABC's MondayNight Football and CBS' Touched by an Angel, 60 Minutes and Walker,Texas Ranger -- crossed over on both lists. Most African-American favorites were onThe WB Television Network and United Paramount Network, he noted.
Alligood said he could not do a similar study on cablesince sample sizes are so small.
Looking ahead, several speakers said the Internet wouldbecome increasingly important in multicultural marketing, as it is in the general market.
"English will be the dominant Web language for onlythree 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 andVietnamese marketing at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., also called the Web "ahigh-growth area," adding, "[MetLife] will be addressing that veryaggressively" in 2000.