The numbers don't lie: US diversity to continue rising

Recently, the US Census Bureau made an announcement that confirmed what we all knew: the US is becoming more diverse.

Recently, the US Census Bureau made an announcement that confirmed what we all knew: the US is becoming more diverse. The numbers are growing with each passing day. In actuality, more than a third or (34%) of the population is comprised of minorities. By 2050 that number will grow to roughly one-half of the US population. Numbers don't lie—well, most of the time.

The Bureau reported that nearly half of the children under the age of 5 are minorities, and 25% of those are Hispanic. In 2008, nearly one in six US residents was Hispanic, and interestingly, 5.2 million people were of two or more races last year, up 3.4% from the previous year. California has the largest Hispanic, Asian-American, Other Pacific Islander, and American-Indian population; New York has the largest African-American population.

More than 50% of Americans under age 25 identify themselves as “multiracial,” expressing a profound sense of pride for their heritage, according to Yankelovich, a consumer research company now part of WPP. This pride has a big impact on their buying decisions in the marketplace. Also, nearly 90% of African Americans and Hispanics say companies that make sincere efforts to be part of their communities deserve their loyalty.

So what does this mean for us as PR practitioners? What do we need to do to ensure that we are moving in line with the shifting demographics? We all need to adopt what a colleague of mine refers to as a “multicultural mindset” as we develop our PR, marketing, and advertising campaigns. This mindset must be integrated into every area of our business, both internally and externally. It's a lens in which we look through that shows us the country as it truly is – more ethnically, culturally, and financially diverse. And, in response, we create campaigns that reflect diversity in tangible and relevant ways.

In the end, if the numbers and research hold true, we should see a measurable difference in our impact and reach with multicultural consumers.

Lori George Billingsley is director of community and multicultural communications for Coca-Cola North America. She can be reached at

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