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Special Report on Multicultural Marketing:
Market Power

Focusing your message for the African American market

May 2008 By Marissa Fabris
Thirty-nine million African Americans are spending more than $892 billion in the United States today. Fueled by a steadily increasing population, this market’s spending power is projected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by 2012.

The implications of marketing to this audience are clear, and these statistics are likely provoking companies to not only incorporate niche marketing into their overall marketing strategy but also to recognize the value of investing an equitable share of dollars and efforts in targeting the African American audience.

While there are market segments growing at a faster rate than the African American market—namely Hispanics, due in large part to immigration—the African American market is growing more rapidly than the general population and currently represents about 13 percent of the total U.S. population, according to Howard Buford, president and CEO of Prime Access, a multicultural advertising agency in New York, N.Y.

Furthermore, its spending power is impressive, particularly compared to that of other market segments. “Among African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics combined, African Americans represent about 61 percent of the combined spending power,” says Buford.

Investing time in understanding the common culture, value system and life experience of this influential market could result in more impressive response rates for and overall profitability of direct response campaigns. “Messaging focused with this group in mind can be more effective and, in the end, basically more efficient and get stronger results,” says Buford.

Media Channels
Traditionally, television, radio and print magazines have been the preferred media used to reach this audience, however other channels are growing in their use and effectiveness. The Web has become an increasingly influential channel among African Americans, with new sites such as BlackVoices.com and BlackPlanet.com emerging to target this audience’s specific needs and cultural preferences.

Web marketing, particularly through mobile communications, is quickly turning into a critical communication and sales tool, according to Jay Rossi, CEO and founder of DDR Global, a multicultural agency based in Montclair, N.J. “Online video advertising seems to be another hot area in terms of opportunities for marketers to take advantage of niche markets,” he says. “There’s such a great potential for the viral impact of a good online video, and the potential for reaching a very large segment of the population is just immeasurable.”

Direct mail also has been growing considerably over the past few years, according to Lamont Stanley, CEO of direct mail marketing firm KLS Media Group in Lithonia, Ga., who has developed campaigns for clients including Ebony and Essence magazines. “I think the reason why [direct marketers] are using direct mail is they can enhance their electronic media, measure response and it’s more cost effective,” says Stanley. “Direct mail is not as sexy as radio and television—it’s not as glamorous. But the bottom line is it works and can definitely save advertisers a lot of money. And the way the economy is right now, people are trying to pinch dollars and make sure their dollars are well-invested,” explains Stanley.
 

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