THE MULTICULTURAL BANDWAGON IS LEAVING THE STATION — AND IT WAITS FOR NO ONE
You have to be out of contact with all communications media and, in fact, with the majority of society to be unaware of the marketing revolution that is taking place in the multicultural environment. The growth and development of the African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American markets are headlined in almost every medium, and their importance to marketers cannot be overemphasized. Not only do these market segments represent the greatest growth area in the population, but they are also projected to grow faster than the balance of the population for many years to come. Of additional importance is the fact that these segments of the population have a significantly enhanced level of disposable and discretionary income. This makes them prime customers for almost all products and services. It is also pertinent to point out that these people and households are extremely brand-loyal. So, if you get them early and continue your communication efforts to these consumer groups, you have a higher-than-average level of assurance that they will remain within your brand’s franchise. The television industry has discovered the importance of these marketplace segments as evidenced by the fact that there is a growing number of networks that have been established to target and reach these population groupings. Their presence and their aggregated audience levels are growing very dramatically. In fact, all one needs to do is compare the top ten TV shows viewed by any of these ethnic groups with the top ten TV shows viewed by the general population to see the growing difference in viewing choices. One added result of this spotlight on multicultural audiences is the increasing number of programs on nonethnic networks that have an ethnic orientation and/or a significant level of diversity among their cast members. This, of course, is not only true for programs but also represents a significant trend in the casting of commercials. It is rare, indeed, to see a multi-person commercial without at least some of the talent made up of these ethnic groups. There are more and more commercials in which the spokesperson and/or the total number of people on-camera are from one of the key ethnic communities. All of this is quite a change from an era during which multicultural efforts were often simply a dole taken out of a special segment of the advertiser’s budget. These funds were identified to be more in the area of community relations and/or public relations rather than a hard-hitting, marketing investment. This has changed dramatically, and one must really begin to look at minority marketing in a different way. There continues to be a need for advertisers to shift from asking, “What about multicultural marketing in the plan?” to “Why is there no multicultural marketing in the plan?” The opportunity to focus a significant portion of marketing activities into multicultural markets can be built with both efficiency and effectiveness through the use of specially tailored networks and programs. This can extend into an almost waste-free environment by the careful use of geographic segmentation. Most of these key minority groups tend to gravitate, in great numbers and with a high percentage of concentration, into certain key markets throughout the country. In the case of the Hispanic marketplace, for example, the focus is clearly in Dallas, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and some other markets as well. When one is putting together a multicultural component for a marketing plan, it is also important to bear in mind that these three groups (African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic) are not fully homogeneous. There are significant differences in language, message tone and appeals that must be recognized when shifting, for example, from the Puerto Rican-Hispanic to the Mexican-Hispanic to the Dominican-Hispanic, etc. Helping all of this happen in these key markets and in subdivisions of these key markets are local-level cable television advertising opportunities. Local systems, through the use of their zoning options, can segment a given marketplace into very targeted, multicultural areas where the population density of a particular multicultural target segment is extremely high and, therefore, almost waste-free. Add to this the opportunity to use specially tailored networks and/or programs, as well as the ability to change the commercial message and/or put in language for certain subsegments of the population and you have a very finely honed and cost-effective marketing tool. In the final analysis, there is a multicultural bandwagon leaving. Jump on it before you are an also-ran in the pursuit of this very important and growing area of the population. Joe Ostrow recently retired as president and CEO of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau and is now a consultant to that trade organization.