Create the Future
Tracking a New Multicultural America
Jo Muse, Chairman, Muse Creative Holdings, LLC
It was April 1, 1991, and the Census Bureau
had just released data that suggested that in less than five
years, California would have a multicultural population of
Latinos, African American and Asians that would be the majority.
In the months that followed the news of this new majority,
a shadow was cast on the marketing opportunity of brands.
Some said marketers needed to start carving out portions of
the marketing advertising budgets to meet this growing need
to communicate with these new emerging consumers. Some said
that the opportunity was not much to get excited about, particularly
since many of these ethnic groups couldn't afford to buy most
products and services like other more affluent Americans.
There was also a group that ignored the insight.
Instead they did business as usual. Unchanged. This group
also went as far as to de-emphasize the growing diversity
of the youth population, and the tremendous impact urban hip-hop
culture was having on the world around us. They stuck to their
guns and continued to practice marketing and strategic techniques
that in all their brilliance and insight lacked a simple ingredient:
These same strategists ran headfirst into the
new digital revolution. From dot-coms to IPO's, these marketing
communications professionals didn't see that one of the most
important trends impacting how companies market to consumers
would new ideas on race, ethnicity, and culture would impact
behavior and attitudes of millions of Americans consumers.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the 1990
Census was the insistence of the U.S. Government to continue
to use racial and ethnic labels invented in 1970. There were,
White, Hispanic, Asian and black. Later black was modified
to African American based on the insistence of people like
Reverend Jackson. But, as early as 1980, the census takers
noticed something that would later prove remarkable yet simple.
The category "other" was becoming the third fastest growing
ethnic group in America.
In 2000, the "other" category was eliminated
for a chance for people to write in their racial preference.
People now had the ability to write in the group they most
identified with. Whether you're Blango. Latialian. Or Germanese.
We now live in a nation that in fact is a combination of ethnicity
and race. Choosing your multicultural heritage is a personal
This year we will learn more about how this
new multicultural America is being formed. What we already
known is the nation has grown 13% since 1990. The bulk of
that growth is coming from a new generation of consumers we
are becoming fond of calling Millenniums, or Generation Y.
Whatever we call them, or they call themselves, this new generation
of young people are graduating from high school about now.
Here's what we know about them. They are the most diverse
of any consumer group before them. They also have no interest
in being strapped to the traditional concepts of race, ethnicity
Theirs is a global community. Brought together
not only by the Internet, but by a prosperous economy that
has allowed many of them to travel abroad before high school
graduation. They live in a smaller world, and as a new part
of it, they are sure to change many of the fixed concepts
we have about brands, consumerism and what motivates purchase
These new Millenniums mix and match culture
and language like they do their jeans and t-shirts. Hip-Hop
is not racially based. Neither is techno music. It's about
fusion. So is art. Fashion and lifestyle. What they will teach
their parents goes far further than the marketplace. They
are changing the entire concept of sexual segregation.
In spite of the 60's and the 70's, America's
children were taught that mixed race couples were wrong. The
uncertain future of mixed children was the deterrent. In the
80's, with the acceptance of Anglo-Asian marriages stimulated
by the Southeast Asia conflict and growing immigration trends,
the stigma weakened. In 1993, 3 out of every 4 children born
in America was of ethnic or mixed race. In 2000, Anglo births
have leveled off. The trend is clear, multicultural population
growth is being driven by mixed race marriages and births.
Like Senator Bullworth intimates in the popular film by the
same name, the only way for America to rid itself of racism
and prejudice is to just screw it out. Couple by couple. Baby
Before you repel from multiculturalism being
embedded in the promiscuity of our children, there's more.
Another insight from the 2000 Census is where and what are
Hispanic ad agencies have it wrong. There is
no such thing as the Hispanic Market. Black agencies aren't
better. Wrong they are. The African American Market is a poorly
crafted illusion of race and psychographics. So is the case
with the so-called Asian consumer market and the now-defunct
General Consumer Market.
What the census shows us is where this double-digit
growth is coming from. It is coming from urban centers like
Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Boston, San Jose and many others.
Inside of these so-called DMA's (Dominant Market Areas), the
complexion of these markets shift with the specific immigration
trends of people of color. In all of these markets, the multicultural
populations are more than 35%. Well beyond the demographic
tipping point of population trends and societal influence.
Atlanta is developing quite a different social
fabric and cultural context brought about by the high populations
of African Americans and Anglos. In San Jose the Chinese and
Chicano population has also infected the local and regional
consumer taste. The same is true about New York, Houston,
Chicago and the most diverse city in the history of the world,
Critical to this change in strategic messaging
is the matter of media. In the last decade, the growing population
clusters in key metros created havoc in conventional thinking
about minority media. Center to this discussion is the use
of statistical data that measures audience delivery based
on units called Target Rating Points (TRP'S). The premise
of a target rating point is to have a uniform unit of measure
that allows us to compare apples with apples when deciding
how to spend money in regional or national market targets.
In 1998, the TRP game was slammed by the emergence
of the Spanish speaking audiences in places like Los Angeles,
New York and Chicago. Moreover, African American audiences
became more sophisticated in their media choices, going freely
from network to cable, from the Internet to digital game systems.
The media mavens in multinational agencies with global clients
began to see the demographics change. They did a peculiar
thing. They devalued the audience by either ignoring the data
in the case of Hispanic radio stations that became leaders
in their markets or emphasized to their clients that African
Americans are "over-delivered" in network or general market
station programs, making cable and selective media to black
audiences superfluous. That year more than $210 billion of
advertising was purchased in America. Only $4 billion of that
total went to ethnic media vehicles.
This over delivery notion apparently doesn't
assist program syndicators like Don Cornelius of the perennial
favorite Soul Train or The African Heritage Network under
the direction of the New Jack deal maker, Frank Mercado. Selling
their wares continues to be a mixture of perceptual voodoo
and statistical remuneration to just get some of the media
decision-makers to even consider their project. The presentation
of the Nielsen numbers proves in some way that their programs
are getting an audience size worth buying. The TRP game was
invented by media professionals as a means of controlling
media buying for better or worse.
next few years this will change. Not because of the TRP numbers
are getting better for ethnic media. Instead the TRP statistical
code will be broken. And in its place will be alternate methods
for using all forms of media including the hard-to-measure
Asian Market and ethnic community newspapers.
Breaking the code will take the collaboration
of demographers, statisticians, media research executives
and government bureaucrats. The FCC has exposed the bogus
nature of the TRP game. They have formulated standards and
practices that give minority advertising media and agencies
a level playing field when it comes to the trillions of dollars
of paid media in America.
Target Rating Points do not have to be calculated
with the premise of getting more for a large source before
filling in the gaps with less valued media like cable and
minority media. In fact, in Europe, the TRP calculation is
done somewhat in reverse by computer models that first collect
a larger cluster of the so-called smaller TRP levels, then
build in the larger TRP gathering media. The key to this system
is the notion that the smaller TRP rating for a medium makes
it more attractive based on comparable unit costs. And if
that were the case with ethnic media many more ethnic newspapers
would get on the media buy sheet. First.
Marketers can benefit from a deeper understanding
of how ethnic media of all kinds can be utilized during media
planning. Despite the obvious efficacy that ethnic mediums
have consumers that read, listen or watch them for their cultural
and language specialization, today's traditional media buyer
doesn't go beyond their knowledge comfort zone to find out
why ethnic media makes good business sense. The decades of
being overlooked has also increased the levels of frustration
ethnic media representative's experience in the market place.
The Madison Avenue Initiative, lead by Butch Graves of Black
Enterprise Magazine and the Rev. Sharpton continue the fight
to convince media planning companies that it's good business
to buy ethnic media. In the West, Sandy Close and the New
California Media is a coalition of several hundred ethnic
media companies committed to having their voices heard in
the executive boardrooms of multinational companies. Advocacy
will not pressure corporations into making bad business decisions.
Instead I encourage ethnic media companies and nationally
respected researchers and demographers to get together and
simply break the code of the Target Rating Point. This can
be accomplished through the assertion of a Multicultural Group
Rating Point numerical algorithm that values the growing ethnic
population and the impact culture and language have on multicultural
consumers. Properly done, this new statistical model can inform
strategic media buying decisions in a fashion that encourages
the idea that good business thinking and multicultural marketing
are not mutually exclusive.
As brand management concentrates on the marketing
strategies to come in the new century, they will be challenged
to provide key markets with the media and message choices
that can build and capitalize on this diversity. Those that
try the same marketing efforts in Miami as they do in Boston
or Chicago are bound to discover that the general market simply
doesn't exist anymore.
Instead, astute brand management will discover
the power that culture and lifestyle have on consumer attitudes.
They will also come to understand the unique social contributions
that people of African, Asian, European and Hispanic descent
have on each other and how old concepts like race and ethnicity
lose their hold on the nature of human beings and how we interact
in the marketplace.
And from here, we will create a new multicultural
1. Hear the Footsteps
The competition is looking for an advantage
2. See the Battleground
The fight starts in the marketplace
3. Taste the Culture
Increase your multicultural intelligence
4. Touch the Customer
Participate in your customer's life
5. Smell out the real issues
Learn the aroma of special interests
6. Be Telephathic
Make sure your boss gets it
7. Create the future
Tracking a new multicultural America
|The above excerpt is published with
the author's permission; any parties seeking similar use
must also obtain prior permission.
Jo Muse, Chairman, Muse Creative Holdings, LLC