Ethnic budgets are rising, but some still fail to spend

NEW YORK: Although ethnic marketing budgets are on the rise, many corporations are still missing the boat when it comes to reaching minority consumers.

NEW YORK: Although ethnic marketing budgets are on the rise, many corporations are still missing the boat when it comes to reaching minority consumers.

NEW YORK: Although ethnic marketing budgets are on the rise, many

corporations are still missing the boat when it comes to reaching

minority consumers.



That was the main finding of a study conducted by New York-based

Multicultural Marketing Resources (MMR) and Woodland Hills, CA-based

Erlich Transcultural Consultants (ETC), which polled 43 opinion leaders

on the current state of the multicultural marketing industry.



More than three-quarters of respondents predicted that consumer

marketing firms will increase marketing to ethnic consumers over the

next five years.



While nearly half said that marketers will boost ethnic budgets 25% or

more over the next five years, only four respondents (9%) saw budgets

flat or decreasing.



The findings are not surprising as the sheer size of the ethnic market

makes it impossible to ignore. The US Hispanic population has grown 38%

to 31 million since 1990, while its buying power has increased 67% to

dollars 356 billion during the same span. There are about 11 million

Asians in the US, while the disposable income of blacks has increased

54% since 1990.



Despite these numbers, many respondents expressed difficulty in getting

a commitment to ethnic marketing from top management. In addition,

impediments that impact the PR industry as a whole - measuring

return-on-investment, tight budgets, recruitment and retention - have

also hindered the growth of ethnic marketing.



Moreover, some corporations touting their ethnic campaigns have made

only token efforts in the area. While MMR president Lisa Skriloff

believes a token effort is better than no effort at all, ETC president

Dr. Andrew Erlich doesn’t agree. ’It’s one thing to talk about it, but

it’s another thing to have an internal champion (within the company),’

he said. ’It isn’t a question of niche marketing. It’s a question of

survival in the future, and the future is now.’



Added Skriloff, ’The job of overseeing ethnic marketing is often given

to someone not qualified, and the campaign is not given its own budget,

so you have to fight other departments to get anything done.’



Michelle Flowers, president and CEO of Chicago-based Flowers

Communications, said corporations are aware of the growing ethnic

market, but that things won’t improve until purse strings are

loosened.



’Even as the (ethnic) consumer base grows, the dollars to reach that

base don’t grow,’ she said. ’I have to do more and more with the same

dollars. I think that they’re making legitimate efforts, but they don’t

appropriate the right dollars to it.’



Next year’s US census should provide the final kick for those

corporations still dragging their feet, the authors said. In the end,

most agreed that a rising tide will lift all boats. ’You’re going to see

more people coming to the party,’ Erlich said.



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