Ethnic and other markets


Companies are scrambling to refine their products and their marketing to reach this fastest-growing and most influential consumer group Hispanics. Hispanics made up half of all new workers in the past decade and will bump up to 25% of workers in two generations. Despite their lagging family incomes, Hispanic buying power is soaring. Disposable income has jumped by 29% during last 5 years.

Countries vary in ethnic and racial makeup. At one extreme is Japan, where almost everyone is Japanese; at the other is the United States, where people come from virtually all nations. The United States was originally called a “melting pot,� but there are increasing signs that the melting didn’t occur. Now people call the United States a “salad bowl� society, with ethnic groups maintaining their ethnic differences, neighborhoods, and cultures.

According to the 2000 census, the US population of 276.2 million was 72% white, African Americans constituted 13%, and Latinos 11%. The Latino population had been growing fast, with the largest subgroups of Mexican (5.4%), Puerto Rican (1.1%) , and Cuban(0.4%) descent. Asian Americans constituted 3.8% of the US population, with the Chinese as the largest group, followed by the Filipinos, Japanese, Asian Indians, and Koreans, in that order. Latino and Asian American consumers are concentrated in the far western and southern parts of the country, although some dispersal is taking place. Moreover, there were nearly 25 million people living in the United States more than 9% of the population who were born in another country.

A frequently noted mega trend is the increase in the percentage of Hispanics in the total population, represents a major shift in the nation’s center of gravity. Hispanics made up half of all new workers in the past decade and will bump up to 25% of workers in two generations. Despite their lagging family incomes, Hispanic buying power is soaring. Disposable income has jumped by 29% during last 5 years. This is double the pace of the rest of the population. From the food Americans eat, to the clothing they wear, the music they listen to, and the cars they buy, Hispanics are having a huge impact.

Given below some cases of refining marketing activities undertaken by a few reputed companies:

* Procter & Gamble. In 2000 the company set up a 65-person bilingual team to better target Latino consumers. Now the company. Tailors its products to appeal to Latino tastes. For example, it added a third scent to its gain detergent called “White Water Fresh� after finding that 57% of Latinos like to smell their purchases.
* Kroger. The nation’s number-one grocery chain spent $1.8 million to convert its 59,000square-foot Houston store into a Supermercado with Spanish-language signage and products such as plantain leaves and Mexican cocoa. The company has also expanded its private-label Buena Comida line to 105 different items.
* PacifiCare Health Systems. When this Cypress, California-based insurance company found that 20% of its 3 million policy holders are Hispanic, it set up a new unit, Latino Health Solutions. The Unit markets PacifiCare health insurance products in Spanish, directs Hispanics to Spanish-speaking doctors, and translates documents into Spanish for Hispanic. Workers.

Ethnic groups have certain specific wants and buying habits. Several food, clothing and furniture companies have directed their products and promotions to one or more of these groups. Charles Schwab is one of the leading financial services firms serving Asian Americans with carefully targeted marketing program.


San-Francisco-based Charles Schwab recognized the growing power of the Asian consumer after the 1990 census. It now employs over 200 people who speak Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese at call centers dedicated to Asian American customers who either want to communicate in their own language or to whom cultural affinity is important. There is a Chinese-language Web site for trading, research, and online news service. Fourteen Schwab branches are found in predominantly Asian neighborhoods across the country. The company also advertises on Asian TV channels, in newspapers, on radio, and at online community Web sites.

Yet marketers must be careful not to over generalize about ethnic groups. Within each ethnic group are consumers who are quite different from each other. “There is really no such thing as an Asian market,� says Greg Macabenta, whose ethnic advertising agency specializes in the Filipino market. Macabenta emphasizes that the five major Asian American groups have their own very specific market characteristics, speak different languages, consume different cuisines, practice different religions, and represent very distinct national cultures.

Diversity goes beyond ethnic and racial markets. More than 50 million Americans have disabilities, and they constitute market for home delivery companies such as Peapod, and for various medical services.