Marketing to Minorities: Investment or Obligation?

October 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“One size fits all” marketing messages are a thing of the past. Today companies identify a variety of audiences for their marketing communications plans, among them groups defined not just by age and income but also by native language, race, disability status, and other classifiers. Is this an attempt to earn an obligatory “diversity badge” or is it an effort to reach out and include previously ignored audiences? The answer will be different for every company and situation, but regardless of a company’s motives, creating special communications for minority audiences can be good for business.

There are 45 million Latino consumers in the U.S. market, with purchasing power that had already reached $798 billion in 2006, according to a report by Magazine Publishers of America. Coca-Cola is addressing this population segment with a strategy that is not so much language focused as perspective focused. Reinaldo Padua of Coca-Cola stated in an article for Diversity Inc. that “Coca-Cola is a very positive brand, and usually all the messages are talking about the positive side of life. The optimism talks in a very strong way to Hispanics because optimism is the main reason that brought all of us here to the U.S.”

Another market segment that companies should not ignore is people with disabilities. U.S. Census data identifies this as a $1 trillion market, in which 72% percent of people are likely to upgrade to a product’s latest model. IBM’s Web site includes an Accessibility Center that discusses the company’s recruiting policies as well as products that help the visually impaired access online content more easily. Perhaps those are a few of the reasons why IBM has been commended by the American Foundation for the Blind.

Certainly the choice to direct marketing communications toward a minority group must be carefully considered. Approaching any audience merely out of a sense of moral obligation or in a tone that talks down to the audience is unlikely to establish positive business relationships. It’s not an easy road, but several companies are leading the way in doing it well.

Diversity Inc.’s 2008 Top Five Companies for Diversity

  1. Verizon Communications
  2. The Coca-Cola Co.
  3. Bank of America
  4. PricewaterhouseCoopers
  5. Procter & Gamble

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