Farnaz on Featured, Multicultural Branding and Marketing, Negating Stereotypes, Redefining Archetypes, New Face of America, New World Trends, New Realities

The Emerging Middle Class Culture In America

We are about to redefine the culture of middle class in the US, and most people and companies are not aware.  Some of us who are, ignore it or simply not happy about it.  Just the word “multicultural” draws in polarized reactions.  This is one of the three macro trends that I define as imperatives for business and social success in the future.  And it is shaping the emerging middle class in America.

I remember the marketing days when Latinos were primarily segmented into the lower income category.  But that is no longer the case, is it?  According to a new Nielsen report published last month, Latino’s income growth during the past decade has significantly surpassed the nation’s average.  Although 43% of Latino’s still earn below $35k/year (versus 35% total), 36% earn $35-75k (at par with 34% total) and growing at a higher rate.  What may be even more surprising to most is that 10% earn $75-100k, which is a 31% growth since 2000…. and 11% over $100k per year, which is a dramatic 71% increase.

Over 52 million strong, or 1 in 6, Latino buying power of $1 trillion in 2010 will change to $1.5 trillion by 2015.  You can expect Latino population and buying power to continue growing even with the decline in the immigration numbers.

Let’s put this into context… There are more Latinos in the US than Canadians in Canada, Malaysians in Malaysia, or South Africans in South Africa.  Latinos in the US represent second-largest Latino nation, right after Mexico, and before Spain, Columbia and Argentina.  If a standalone country, the buying power would be one of the top 20 economies in the world.

In my November blog, how to reach the fastest growing Asian market, I explained how the Asian market is over-indexing the US national average in just about every meaningful consumer category—specially in income, education and family size.  With this recent study showing Latino income on the rise, we can safely say that the landscape of American middle class is rapidly changing into a multicultural mosaic.  We are about to redefine the culture of middle class in America, which will in turn redefine every aspect of the pop culture, consumerism, politics, economy and business.  Just think of how branding strategies will have to shift for retail, residential buying, food, education, financial services, transportation, entertainment and media.

American marketers have never relied on a broad-stroke depiction of White consumers.  They should keep the same mindset when it comes to Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups.  Stereotyping the Latinos or Asians in the US will not be any different than stereotyping Caucasians.

According to Census, among US children, Hispanics are already 1 in 4 of all newborns.  Hispanics, Asians and multi-racial children accounted for all the US youth growth in the last decade.  Think of how this will define the next generation of our country.  The multi-racial children are clearly the result of inter-racial marriages.  Marriage across racial and ethnic lines has doubled since 1980, with 41% of all intermarriages in 2008 between Hispanics and whites, 15% between Asians and Whites, 11% between blacks and whites, and 16% in which both parties are non-white.

Contrary to the popular belief on language barrier, Neilsen particularly notes that Latino consumers’ usage rates of smartphones, TV, online video and social networking/entertainment makes this group one of the most engaged in the digital space.  During February 2012, Latinos increased their visits to social networks/blogs by 14% from a year ago.  This is also true for all multicultural population as Gen Y is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history.  Unlike the ethnic groups in previous generations assimilating in the mainstream culture, the new and young multicultural populations take big pride in their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and are considered acculturated.

This article is not intended to be an advertising campaign for Hispanic media and agencies.  For me, it is critical to add that older, white males are just as much part of the multicultural societies as any other ethnic groups.  I define Multiculturalism by a mosaic of different cultures in one platform, and a society that is ethnically and culturally diverse.  That does not mean excluding Caucasians or implying ethnic minorities only.

So, how are you defining or stereotyping your multicultural initiatives?

 

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My 2012 Trend Predictions

In the process of final editing & proofing of my book, I realized a lot of my forecasts and predictions pertain to the future.  But how about 2012? There are so many exhuastive predictions on surveys, blogs and conversations.  Many believe that 2012 prophecies have already happened in 2011.  So I decided to devote a blog to my own 2012 trend predictions before we’re too far into it.

Any one of these can easily have its own blog.  But here’s a quick recap:

  • Economy will get better.  We’re already seeing this in financial market, regardless of the bitter political debate on media.  Not sure how long it will last, but we will see consumer confidence and business revenues go up this year.  With the mild winter that we’re having (rolling over a bad one from prior year), if your business is not up, something is wrong internally.
  • The buzz about women controlling 85% of all buying decision will get louder and finally get Corporate attention–with seminars, conferences & media coverage, including my own book.
  • Racism & Sexism will be far more intolerable than previous years.   Gender lines & roles will blur even more.  You will see manifestation of this in politics, marketing/advertising and all social conversations–online and off line.  Get ready to embrace an androgyneous mind.
  • You will start hearing “Asia” a lot more….just as strong as the Latin craze we’ve had these past few years.  (Read this blog)
  • And it’s no longer just China & India–you’ll hear more about Vietnam, Indonesia & other Asian countries.
  • Luxury brands will start targeting China & India.  Even Middle East.
  • Asian and African countries grow their middle class, while US share of global middle class keeps declining.
  • Muslims will go under marketer’s radar in the US, and globally.
  • Green & social responsibility will be included in all successful Corporate strategies.  It is no longer just about products & services–it’s also about making this world a better place to live.
  • Marketers & advertisers will focus more on authenticity, keeping it real, brand heritage, eco chic, and more is less.
  • Savvy marketers will target savvy customers who are social consumers–ie 20% high sharere on internet to reach the other 80%–aka early adopters.  A bigger shift in social media towards branding.
  • Last two years have been all about social media.  This will be the year of the Mobile platform.  The capabilities of phones & tablets will grow immensely.  Remote work is on the rise…!!!
  • Get ready for social TV.  All media & social devices will come together to offer us TV experiences wherever and whenever we want.
  • Multiculturalism will rise beyond a racial discussion and will extend into fashion, colors, food, music…all lifestyle pillars.
  • Focus on food health will shift from low fat or high protein to gluton-free, wheat-free, less processed, and going LOCAL.
  • With boomers staying younger & more fit, expect to see a higher % of ad dollars for them.
  • Multigenerational households will become common with boomers retiring and Gen Y moving back home.

Are you seeing or hearing any other major trends for 2012 that I should add to this list?  Love to hear your thoughts.

I’ll end this by telling you how excited I am that we finished all the final editing of my book–I even proofed a printed sample last week.  I realized how much information I packed in a very small book–you could finish it in 1-3 settings.  I’m sure the content will resonate with you.  We should be going to print in a week or so, and my next blog will give you the timing and ordering details.

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How to reach the fastest growing Asian market: 10 tips to get started

When you look for a new doctor these days, how many Asian doctors do you find?  How many engineers, professors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and CEOs?  Did you know South Asians generally over-index the US National Average in just about every meaningful consumer category?  Are businesses ignoring the marketer’s dream come true?  What are the prejudices and biases that are holding companies back from reaching this higher income, more educated, larger families and growing market?

Check out these Census facts:

  • With 14.5 million Asians in the US, up 43% from the last census, Asians are the fastest growing minority group, very affluent and high educated, with household income 26% above Whites.
  • Asian Americans have the highest educational attainment of any group, 49% have at least a bachelor’s degree (vs. 28% US avg).  They also have the highest household income levels of any racial demographic at $65,637 (vs $38,885 US avg) with 28% exceeding $100K.
  • South Asian population has doubled in the last decade.  Indian population, specifically, has grown 70%.  And 67% of all Indians have a bachelor’s or higher degree.  Almost 40% have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average.  1 in every 9 Indians in the US is a millionaire, comprising 10% of all US millionaires.
  • South Asian households are 29% larger than the national average.  And 93.6% speak English.
  • Although Iran is not technically considered “Asia” by Census, I’ll include for my loyal Persian readers: 51% of Iranian-Americans have a bachelor’s or higher degree, and 1 in 4 hold Masters or PHD.  An NPR report recently put the Iranian population of Beverly Hills as high as 20%.  Almost 1 in 3 households have annual incomes of more than $100K (compared to 1 in 5 US Avg).  According to a study carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Iranian scientists and engineers in the US own or control around $880 billion.

So when you think or speak of multicultural branding or strategy, are you ignoring this fastest growing group?  What marketer wouldn’t want to reach a more educated consumer with higher income and larger families without a re-deployment of marketing dollars?

The 2010 census data reported, of the 27.3 million added to US population in the last decade, only 2.3 million were Whites.  While Hispanics accounted for well over half our gains, Asians made the next biggest contribution.  There is an absolute decline of white population under 18, as well as somewhat smaller decline of black youths.  Hispanics, Asians, and multiracial children accounted for all of the net growth of nation’s youth.  And I believe the Asian numbers are under-reported through Census, since there is a big debate about race versus ethnicity.

The world “Multicultural” was intended to represent a mosaic of different cultures in one platform.  But somehow it became a buzzword limited to initiatives toward Hispanics, as “Diversity” did the same with African Americans.  That’s why I coined the phrase “New World Marketplace” to represent a new type of customer-influencing mainstream culture. It’s important to recognize that various multicultural values have now become part of the fabric and reality of American society.

Here are 10 easy tips to get started that will apply to all multicultural branding and positioning:

  • Learn how much of your current sales volume is being generated by multicultural customers.  It may be more than you think.
  • Then, learn exactly what demographic groups you could and should target for your products and services.  How much sales potential in each market?
  • Get to know your existing and new targets.  You can only do so by spending days in the life of your customers.
  • It all starts with the great product, which transcends all cultural differences.  Make sure you have the right product and services and you are speaking to the needs and values of the customers who are actually buying them.
  • Research and research more.  Not just about product attributes, but also about how your new customers want to feel and be treated as a part of the totality and oneness of the market.
  • Consult with experts.  I am one of so many.  Learn to use the right cultural symbols to avoid offending the very people you’re trying to attract.
  • Sharpen your sensitivity to cultural standards and taboos.  Dig deeper into the values and beliefs and leverage on “shared” values.
  • Avoid all stereotypes and clichés.  Design your marketing materials to depict multicultural customers in a wide variety of roles.
  • Include a multicultural budget in your 2012 budget.  Link compensation to multicultural performance for the sake of profit growth.
  • Be authentic, honest, respectful and consistent.  Once you open the doors to build the relationship, stay the course to maintain the relationship.

 

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Is your business retail ready for new multicultural customers?

Everyday businesses across America open for business. Who is walking through the door has changed significantly. We’ve had a decade of rapid multicultural growth, aging whites and housing boom and bust. Is your business ready to serve the needs of the New World Marketplace customers in this transformational decade?

Here are some shocking facts recently released by 2010 census:

  • Hispanics now account for more than half of the US population increase over the last decade…a new milestone: 50 million, or 1 in 6 Americans. Among US children, Hispanics are already 1 in 4 of all newborns.
  • More than 9 million Americans checked more than one race category…up 32% from 2000…a sign of multiracial growth.
  • Hispanics and Asians are the two fastest growing demographic groups, increasing about 42% from 2000…Asians for the first time had the largest numeric gain than African Americans.
  • Multiracial Americans are on track to increase by more than 25%.
  • What’s even more shocking is that most companies still define “multicultural branding” as African American marketing…or if they are a bit more progressive, African American & Latino event sponsorships with possibly a small percent of ad budget. Really? Think again!!!

Here are a few frameworks to consider:

  • Re-evaluate your core target. What is “General Market” afterall?
  • Consider business models that capitalizes on motivations and attitudes with multicultural dimensions.
  • It is no longer about degree of acculturation and melding with the mainstream culture. It is now about influencing , shaping and defining it!!!
  • Dig deeper into the values and beliefs of your new multicultural customers….how they live, love, play…what they fear, resent…why they consume what they do. This goes beyond common held assumptions found in research questionnaires.
  • Choose an “emotional space” to create a meaningful relationship with your multicultural customers….choose how you’d like your multiculti customer to feel after walking into your business. It’s an outside/in mindset.

The key to the kingdom is changing hands. Multiculturalism is now the rule, not the exception. Take time to really understand your new customers, who are the potential growth that is walking in your door.

 

 

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