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Multicultural Markets--The Trillion Dollar Markets You Never Considered

By: Alvin Apple

Alvin Apple helps everyday people start businesses they will enjoy. Then he teaches them how to succeed. Read all his helpful strategies, including his latest article, "How to write the perfect classified ad" at AlvinApple.com. Reach Alvin at 801-328-9006 or alvin@drnunley.com.

What would you do if you discovered a virtually untapped market with a buying power of over a trillion dollars? You would try to market to them, right? Of course you would!

This trillion dollar market segment that has been overlooked for so long is composed of America's minorities.

Multicultural marketing is fast becoming, not the trend, but the norm in America. You see more ads featuring African-American families, commercials in Spanish with English subtitles or commercials that celebrate a minority culture.

Many advertisers who wish to tap into this market think that replacing a Caucasian actor or model with a minority is good enough. Wrong! Anyone can spot such a disingenuous act a mile away.

So if equal representation doesn't do the trick, then what does?

In many ways, multicultural marketing is no different than any other kind of marketing. The first thing you must do is understand who your target market is.

Here is a breakdown of your largest target demographics:
  • The Hispanic Market--This market has seen explosive growth in its population size. Hispanic market spending power has reached $350 billion. The U.S. Hispanic population now numbers more than 30 million, comprising 11% if the total U.S. population. By 2050, Hispanics will make up over 25% of the total U.S. population. Today's Hispanics are living a different reality than those of previous generations. They have higher levels of education, are more affluent and consume a variety of different media.

  • The Asian Market--This fast-growing market of 10.2 million commands an annual purchasing power of $101 billion. This market is younger than the general market at an average age of 30. Asians have the highest average household incomes of any group in the U.S. and also have the highest levels of education as compared to all other consumers. The average household size is larger than that of other groups, because of the Asian preference for multi-generational family households, further magnified by the immigrant experience.

  • The African-American Market--The African American population is estimated to reach 45 million by 2020. They have a collective purchasing power of $450 billion, and spend more on luxury items like cars, clothing and furniture than their white counterparts. The Internet is the hot new medium for reaching this target population. Web sites such as www.netnoir and www.afronet.com attract thousands of African-American surfers with news, information, entertainment and products that are of interest to their specific audiences, as well as advertisers who wish to reach this specific audience.
Now you know a little about the target demographics, but you still don't know enough to market to these cultures. The problem is, there is so much to know, so many intricacies of each culture. And there are cultures within cultures. Never forget that.

What I suggest is that you do what it takes to become familiar with the cultures. It is difficult to go out and immerse yourself in a culture that is so different from yours, so I won't demand that you experience everything first hand. Although that is the most educational experience.

Consider taking a college or community education class on diversity. I took one of these classes during my own college education and I couldn't believe how much it changed my perspective on minority culture. The most important thing you can learn in a diversity class is how to see things from the perspective of another culture--how to shift your paradigm. This is exaclty what you need to do when marketing to a different culture.

There are also plenty of publications out there dealing with the business and marketing trends in Hispanic, Asian and African-American culture. Reading the ads in ethnic publications tells you what your competitors are doing, as well as what appeals to different groups. Don't hesitate to watch BET or Univision to get more ideas on what appeals to African Americans and Latin Americans.

What you are looking to do is understand the basic characteristics of the three groups. Learn to appreciate the subtleties of each group so you can know how they think, and also avoid marketing errors that could cost you potential customers. Learn to Tailor ad messages to the specific needs, wants and values of a group, and you will be able to break into that trillion dollar market.

© 2002, Alvin Apple

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