Marketing to cultural market segments


Expected to account for a quarter of the US population by 2050, Hispanic Americans are the latest-growing minority, and soon will be the largest minority in the country. Already with a population the same size as Canada, annual Hispanic American purchasing power in 2002 was $646 billion (total consumer spending by white Americans was $6.3 trillion)

The Hispanic American segment can be difficult for marketers. Roughly two dozen nationalities can be classified as “Hispanic American� including Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and other Central and South American groups. The Hispanic American group contains a mix of cultures, physical types, racial backgrounds, and aspirations.

Nickelodeon has been hugely successful in creating a “Pan-Latina� character, Dora the Explorer, that appeals to the increasing Hispanic preschool population in all these groups. The character is bilingual and the show displays aspects of many different Hispanic cultures. Dora’s creators enlisted the help of a team of consultants with Latin American backgrounds. As a result, kids might see Dora up in the Andes or with a cocky, a frog that’s an important part of Puerto Rican folklore.

The research has paid off; the show is the most watched preschool show on commercial television, not only by Hispanic Americans but also by all preschools.

Yet despite their differences Hispanic Americans often share strong family values, a need for respect, brand loyalty, and a strong interest in product quality. Marketers are reaching out to Hispanic Americans with targeted promotions, ads, or Web sites, but need to be careful to capture the nuances of cultural and market trends. For example, recognizing the fact that Hispanic consumers make twice s many trips to the grocery store per week and are less likely to eat out. Goya Foods has captured whole sections of large supermarkets, all the different goods Hispanic consumers might want. Other food companies have also introduced products targeting Hispanic, such as Frito-Lay with a line up of spicy snacks sold in rack emblazoned with the slogan “A Todo Sabor’’ (roughly, In Full Flavor.)

African Americans

The purchasing power of the country’s 34 million African Americans exploded during the prosperous 1990s. Based on survey findings, African Americans are the most fashion-conscious of all racial and ethnic groups. They also tend to be strongly motivated by quality and selection, and shop more at neighborhood stores.

A telling testament to the growing power of African American consumers is their influence on white consumers, particularly those ages 12 to 34. Often fashion, dining, entertainment, sports, and music tastes emerge first from African American communities and make their way to the mainstream suburban mall. Think of rap-and hip-hop-inspired clothing for instance.

Many companies have been successful at tailoring products to meet the needs of African Americans. In 1987, Hallmark Cards Inc, launched its Afro-centric brand, Mahogany with only 16 cards; it offers 800 cards today. Other companies offer more inclusive product lines within the same brand. Sara Lee Corporation’s L’eggs discontinued its separate line of pantyhose for black women and now offers shades and styles popular among black women as half of the company’s general focus sub brands. Finally, America’s biggest packaged goods marketer, the Procter & Gamble Company, is teaming up its ad agencies specializing in campaigns aimed at African Americans with their general-market counterparts. By taking what used to be separate efforts through ethnic agencies and making them part of the company’s core marketing effort, Procter& Gamble is moving the African American market from being largely an after thought to being the name of the game.

Asian Americans

According to the US Census Bureau, “Asian� refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. Six countries represent 79% of the Asian US population: China (21%) , the Philippines (18%), India (11%), Vietnam (10%), Korea (10%) and Japan(9%)

Asian Americans tend to be more brand conscious than other minority groups, but yet are the least loyal to particular brands. Compared to other minority groups, they also tend to care more about what others think (e.g. whether their neighbors will approve) Asian Americans are the most wired and computer literate group too, and are likely to use the Internet on a daily basis. Asian Americans often live with a larger extended family and may resonate to those types of depictions in advertising. Bank of America prospered by targeting Asians in San Francisco with separate TV campaigns aimed at Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese consumers