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?



50 is the new 30

Have you heard this, or seen this on t-shirts and bumper stickers?  It’s true.  I’m turning 50 this summer, so I’m inspired to write a blog about what this really means.  People flatter me all the time by saying I don’t look my age.  But I’m not the only one.  Turning 50, for many, have made it possible to live an active, healthy, productive lifestyle.  This is a game changer for many businesses that have been stuck with their 18-49 target planning.  And here’s why….

In my 2012 trend predictions blog, I noted that with baby boomers staying younger and more fit, expect to see a higher % of ad dollars for them.  There is more.  Boomers 50+ have unique life stage milestones that provide them with the means to splurge more on bigger-ticket items—changing jobs, starting a new business (yes, thank you very much), children going off to college or getting married, adopting a healthier lifestyle, changing homes,  developing new hobbies, discovering new habits, taking more trips, joining the digital/mobile way of living, enrolling in weight loss programs, becoming care givers to parents or even a spouse.  This is more than just going through a mid-life crisis of ditching the spouse and buying a motorcycle/sports car, or jumping out of an airplane.

Maybe it’s just about forgetting to get and feel older.  For women, in particular, it’s about saying good bye to invisibility and getting traded in for the younger.  I think 35 to 60 is where it all comes together for women with elegant maturity, spiritual wisdom and a balanced outlook on inner and outer beauty.

This mid-life transition, once a very exhausting and confusing life stage, is now a midpoint to another adult life that can easily last 30 to 40 years more, thanks to medical science coupled with holistic herbal approach, greener/healthier forms and diet, active lifestyle, and living a more meaningful life in pursue of happiness beyond a paycheck and financial planning.  These are rapid cultural shifts with a completely different set of needs and values.  Our pop culture, from actresses and TV personalities to business leaders and writers, is already redefining 50.

Companies who understand the dynamics of this new milestone and negate existing stereotypes will be able to intelligently develop products and services that allow this new 50+ target maximize the upside of their lives, and will win in the New World Marketplace.

So to all friends:  let’s celebrate the new 50 and start redefining our culture.

PS—My pre-release party and book signing event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18thClick here for the details.


Cultures, Archetypes & Movies: Would Women Do It Differently?

We’ve come a long way from Cinderella and Snow White stories.  Our pop culture only remembers the beautiful young women being saved by the strong handsome Prince and Hero archetypes.  We often forget there was always the powerful, evil force in these children movies who was always a woman too.  We can see both these archetypes play out in Halloween costumess: sexy or deadly.

Today, Angelina Jolie is the new James Bond and we even see Helen Mirren handle a gun as a deadly spy.  Even the fall 2011 TV lineup is full of intriguing portrayals of women, from NBC’s Prime Suspect to Against the Wall on Lifetime, a channel traditionally portraying women as victims.  You don’t have to like Sex and the City or the fashions to appreciate the four female archetypes the characters play.  As we see and experience a rise in women’s power and diversify women’s social roles, are we merely replacing gender for the same social roles?  Would women do it differently?

Different female archetypes in movies, stories and TV shows represent beliefs and values that enable modern society to understand and appreciate the evolving roles of women.  We’ve always had, and still have, Demeter-style nurturers, the Aphrodite-like lovers as well as Artemis huntresses. I view archetypes as powerful forces and energies that operate within us, versus cultures and stereotypes that are forces operating and acting upon us.  Culture is a way of life, collective learned behaviors reflecting shared values and beliefs.  As history and environment change, culture evolves by adapting to those changes.

Although more than half of prehistorical pieces have been destroyed and lost, there is overwhelming archeological and historical evidence that proves both men and women worshiped the Goddess-Mother.  Property was passed through the mother’s lineage.  Goddess worship was equated to responsibility, nurture, give and love – rather than domination, destruction, oppression, privilege and fear.  Her powers were oneness with nature – humans, animals, plants, water, sky and earth – a popular theme that is emerging in ecological survival in modern times.  Why and how we shifted to a Patriarch society and whether there is a correlation between return to the “Mother” values and rise of women is a whole chapter in my book.  But the question remains would gender balance in the top 1% change the infrastructure of our social and financial model.  I started thinking about the old 70s movie Planet of Apes.  Didn’t the Apes do the same thing to humans when the power was shifted?  Would any of us do anything different if we were billionaires facing threats of loosing some of the billions that we own?

These are the questions that each of us should be asking ourselves if we truly want to experience a cultural transformation where performance and prosperity meet ethical values in leadership. Power, lust and greed can be very gender neutral.  I for one like to believe that women will do it differently.   We do have the “natural” capabilities of nurturing and giving.  The key is not to loose those qualities in positions of wealth and power.  Because that’s easy to do, specially given our history and social model.  There is much talk about soft (feminine) versus hard (masculine) powers.  I’d like to call it smart, ethical powers that is very androgynous.  Think of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as male role models.  Think of Shirin Ebadi and Kavita Ramdas as female activists who integrate aspects of tradition and community to overturn oppression, challenging the very notion of western models of development.

I am working on defining a modern woman archetype, and would love to hear your thoughts.