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Multicultural Marketing is a Money Maker (June, 2005)

Si usted tiene alguna pregunta o algún problema, póngase en contact con nosotros en o llame al teléfono gratuito 1-866-216-6032 (EE.UU) o-1-866-216-6031 (Canada) antes de devolver este producto.  These directions appear in an operator's manual that came with a Lawn Boy lawnmower I recently purchased in Woodbine.  One of the manuals was written in Spanish, the other in English.  Given the increasing linguistic diversity in the U.S. and in the state of Maryland, multilingual marketing is slowly becoming the norm, especially for large businesses and organizations.  With the Spanish-speaking population of the U.S. growing nearly four times faster than the population as a whole, more and more employers are finding it pays to be fluent in more than one language.

Recent statistics from the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth indicate that minority buying power is escalating quickly.  In 2008, the total buying power of Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans will exceed $1.5 trillion, a gain of 231 percent since 1990.  Hispanics, who can be of any race, will see their buying power escalate by roughly 357 percent during this same period.  Interestingly, the buying power of Whites has not increased nearly as dramatically in recent years.  This trend, which shows no sign of letting up, counters the notion among some advertisers that minorities do not have enough spendable income to warrant serious consideration.

An ad appearing in Time Magazine shows a picture of three older white gentlemen in business suits.  Underneath this picture is another picture of three people in professional attire; two men and one woman of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.  The caption reads, “Money.  It's just not what it used to be.”  The advertisement continues by stating that a new, more diverse generation of entrepreneurs is changing the way we do business.  This trend is being driven by a number of factors, including population changes, job growth, and greater opportunities for advancement.

When businesses market their products or services, they no longer can afford to assume that the majority speaks for the minority.  This is true whether we are talking about advertising, product development, or pricing.

Increasingly, organizations take a number of realities into consideration when they sell products, advertise services, or diversify their workforce:

Some organizations are ahead of the times in terms of being sensitive to differences that characterize growing markets.  Allstate Insurance Company, for example, found that older people prefer more relationship-oriented sales at home.  Younger people, on the other hand, were more open to quick interactions, such as the Internet, cell phones, or faxes.

It is impossible to market to a population that you do not understand.  Effective multicultural marketing needs to look beyond simplistic and stereoptypical differences.  Certainly, hiring talent with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and developing the cultural competencies of employees can help make multicultural marketing more effective and ultimately, more profitable.

Local Target Stores have recently begun offering free Spanish language classes to its managers.  Managers are encouraged to take these classes, which are accessible on Target's intranet.  My only question is why is this kind of training limited to managers?

My next column will be “The Group of the Month.”

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