• July 7, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Ethnic Consumers Require Sensitive Marketing

Changes in family, brand loyalty, and language communications are altering the way Hispanics and African Americans feel about marketers, according to the "2005 Yankelovich MONITOR Multicultural Marketing Study," released this week. The study, developed in collaboration with Burrell Communications, a national agency specializing in African-American and urban markets, and with Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University, surveyed more than 4,300 Hispanic, African-American, and non-Hispanic white U.S. consumers ages 16 and over. "This year's study focused on finding ways to forge connections with African-American and Hispanic consumers," says Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of Yankelovich. "Identifying and recognizing important cultural connectors for the multicultural market will give marketers insight to help them connect with the ethnic consumer." The research revealed consumer behavior within Hispanic communities varies, influenced by cultural sameness, such as commitment to family, as well as differences in individual acculturation and language proficiency levels in the same household. Yankelovich found that 87 percent of Hispanics "get a real sense of belonging from their family," while 61 percent agree that "people's main responsibility is to themselves and their family, not to making the world a better place to live in," according to the survey. Additionally, more Hispanic women are now working and adding to the household income. "The Hispanic language is extremely important to Hispanics, and they feel the need to preserve it, but also recognize the need to master English in order to succeed and enjoy life in the U.S.," Suarez-Hammond says. "Marketers need to use both languages in order to establish cultural and personal relevancy with the Hispanic consumer. Spanish is also the language of the heart and provides communication intimacy in brand messaging." The study revealed a shift in African-American families based on the increased number of households headed by females, which contributes to more liberal attitudes about gender roles. Additionally, an increasing number of African-American women are choosing to remain unmarried and/or childless. For example, attainers comprise 27 percent of the African-American community and are typically married with children, have a college degree, are a median age of 40, and are looking for tools to help them reach their aspirations. "African Americans say they are loyal to companies that reflect an understanding of this awareness and their ethnic affinity," Suarez-Hammond says. "Non-Hispanic white marketers who have not experienced exclusion based on race or color may find it difficult to understand that this sensitivity exists, particularly since it is shared by African Americans across the board, even at the highest social strata and economic brackets. The study also identified warning signs for marketers if they don't appeal to and understand Hispanic and African-American consumers. According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of African Americans and 53 percent of Hispanics say they are "extremely concerned about the practices and motives of marketers and advertisers," while 50 percent in both groups agree that "very little, if any, of the marketing and advertising I see has any relevance to me." "This data should raise a red flag for marketers," Suarez-Hammond says. "The truth is that African-American and Hispanic consumers do want to be noticed, but they want it done in a culturally appropriate way, in a way that builds a deep, lasting connection." Related articles: On The Scene: Understanding Hispanic Culture
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