Tag Archives: Minority Marketing

Black? White? Or both??

I’m a white girl in every stereotypical way. I have no butt, no boobs, no hand-eye coordination, no athletic ability, etc. The list goes on and on. But my stepdad — who is essentially my second dad, as he’s been married to my mom since I was 5 years old — is multiracial. Black, white and Cherokee, to be exact. So I’ve always been a bit sensitive to messages targeted towards a people with a mixed ethnic background. As Lori George Billingsley indicated in a PR Week column published last week, marketers who want to connect with a multiethnic audience should avoid taking a broad-based approach and instead “create specific cultural relevancy with each ethnic group to strengthen their brand.

Targeting each audience with its own unique Facebook page or MySpace group is one good way to accomplish this task, I think, and Billingsley presents evidence in support of that idea. She said minorities are more apt to frequent social networking sites, and Hispanics are actually the fastest-growing group of Internet users. African-Americans account for about 11 percent of U.S. Internet users, and about 90 percent of Asian-Americans are online, too.

Billingsley advocates using social media to strengthen brand relationships with minorities. Expanding on that idea, I think marketers should consider using social media reach out to minorities of mixed ethnicity, too. If that approach proves successful, it might resolve some of the identity issues that arose in the media during last year’s presidential race. Perhaps it might also encourage the population to stop thinking of people as white or black or Cherokee, but rather a mix of all three fascinating ethicities. I know my stepdad would appreciate it.

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On another note: I’ve been encouraged by some of the small, local businesses I’ve noticed embracing social media. The Boston Beanery, the Morgantown-based restaurant chain I worked for in college, sent out a message to Facebook users today reminding them that the Beanery’s famous chicken chimichanga special was available today for Cinco de Mayo. Welcome to the 21st-Century!

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Marketing 101 – Don’t ignore 40M customers.

Like it or not, marketing to minority groups is essential. It’s a touchy subject because it involves acknowledging that we aren’t all the same and we don’t all have the same interests. But that’s true of any group, even the various demographics of white consumers. Perhaps it’s just easier not to go there and risk offending someone, but according to a recent Ad Age report, marketers are increasingly shunning the 40 million-strong African-American market and missing out on more than $900 billion in potential revenue.

Marketers argue that targeting African-Americans doesn’t add value or that they speak English, but those are both poor arguments. If President Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign and election wasn’t enough to convince marketers that African-Americans will respond en masse to messages that are designed to resonate with them, I don’t know what will. McDonald’s is one company that hasn’t ignored Black consumers. According to Carol Sagers, marketing director for McDonald’s USA:

“Do you believe one size fits all? Intuitively, you don’t. African-Americans have nuances in lifestyle and nuances in language and culture that should be used to leverage communication.”

But like white consumers, there are dozens of unique demographics within the African-American market. It will be interesting to see which companies are able to capitalize on the buying potential of Black consumers by effectively identifying and communicating with those niche groups. (Hint: It takes more than a photo featuring Black faces and a reference to rap music or Martin Luther King.)

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