Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Media & Minorities

When it comes to marketing, there's many different niches and aspects of marketing: age, gender, religion, etc. However one discussion in relation to new media that has recently surfaced was the idea of marketing to ethnicities. Currently, the ethnic population within the U.S. plans to rise from 24% from 1990 up to 37% by the year 2020. With ethnic shoppers spending almost $2 trillion dollars each year, businesses are looking to reach out and encourage this niche to spend their money within these businesses (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008).

So, how do these businesses plan on reaching this customers? Well, according to Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of multicultural marketing for the Yankelovich research firm, "Brands must show that they understand the ethnic consumer by crafting culturally appropriate and targeted messaging that speaks directly to them" (Reyes, 2006). One way that businesses attempt to reach out to ethnic shoppers is through new media marketing efforts. The popularity of the internet amongst ethnic shoppers is rising. For example, there are now 18.4 million African Americans that use the internet and over 60 percent of the adult Hispanic American population uses goes online (Williamson, 2005; West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). With these facts in mind, marketers are now trying to utilize the marketing potential of the internet and figure out a way to reach the ethnic consumers.

Sounds easy, right? Actually, it is not as easy as most people believe. While there are statistics showing percentages of minorities hired to work within specific businesses, and while there are webpages on the business sites that offer information about hiring a diverse group of people or promoting scholarships, one student stated that there was actually very little to be found in terms of Fortune 100 companies actually marketing to these different ethnic groups. I searched five or six sites myself before I could find a site that I believed utilized the ideas of ethnic marketing. There are some sites, such as Coca-Cola's My Coke Rewards program which not only promotes Hispanic items, but also has a separate Spanish site as well (Coca-Cola North America announces launch of "my coke rewards", 2006).

However, just having a Spanish website does not mean you are effectively marketing to the Hispanic American audience. For example, Walgreens has a Spanish site, and while I do feel as though it is ver effective in terms of helping Spanish-speaking Hispanic Americans gather information about their health and well-being, it does not accurately market the other items that Walgreens has in its stores. Check out the English version of the site and you will see promotions for electronics, toys, health & beauty supplies, and other assortments of items that are not necessarily health related. However, the Spanish version of this site is entirely health-based. It's not a bad thing in terms of ethics and in terms of helping others, but if Walgreens' goal is to get them to shop for all of the items within the store then they might want to look into a more effective website (and making the Spanish link more noticeable couldn't hurt either). Also, with the younger Hispanic American generation preferring to speak English, the Spanish websites may soon become ineffective at luring potential Hispanic American shoppers (Del Valle, 2005).

In a separate discussion relating to K-Mart, another student pondered whether or not K-Mart was ever criticized for not having a more diverse toy inventory. Yes, K-Mart does sell African American and Hispanic American dolls and other ethnically aimed toys, but in terms of ethnicity there are other groups that these businesses should focus on as well. For example, while Asian Americans are not as populous within the U.S. as African Americans and Hispanic Americans, they are increasing percentage wise faster than African Americans (Minckler, 2008). While some companies, such as Mattel, have developed toys based on a vast array of ethnicities, there is always room for improvement in marketing to these different groups.

I remember as a little girl playing with a Polynesian and German Barbie doll. I had a few blond Barbies, but I also had a few African American Barbie dolls, I think one Hispanic doll, and I remember owning a few brown-haired Barbies since the looked like me. I always wanted a Native American/American Indian Barbie since I am part Cherokee, and even though I'm not considered as such by the Government's standards, I still smile when my friends look at pictures of women from different tribes and then they look at me and yell, "YOU LOOK JUST LIKE HER! EXCEPT WHITE!" I think it could be a difficult task to market to all the different mixes of ethnicities we have in this nation, but the companies should get a head start on trying to reach other groups while remaining within the ethical boundaries of avoiding too many stereotypes.

Coca-Cola North America announces launch of "my coke rewards". Access My Library. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Del Valle, E. (2005, March 28). The new Hispanic market. Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Minckler, D. (2008, May 14). U.S. minority population continues to grow. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Reyes, S. (2006, August 16). Brand loyalty strong among minorities. Marketing y Medios. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

West Virginia University. P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 7: The young and the rest but not less: Targeting youth and multicultural audiences with emerging media. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Williamson, D.A. (2005, November 4). Marketing to African Americans online. iMediaConnection. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

1 comment:

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