Marketing & Branding

Is Ethnic Marketing the New Wave of Market Strategy?

As the United States becomes more and more culturally diverse, marketers are refocusing the way they promote their products to consumers. How are they doing it? Answer: Ethnic marketing, or implementing a marketing mix that reflects the attitudes, values and preferences of ethnic Americans. Ethnic marketing is on the rise among many major corporations across the country, but McDonald’s is at the forefront of this new wave of marketing by developing menu items and advertising schemes that cater to the ultra-diverse US population.

Based on US Census Bureau predictions, white Americans are heading towards a minority status come mid-century as the growth of other cultural groups increase exponentially each year. Recognizing this market trend is crucial in determining a firm’s market power and potential advertising avenues. It is now becoming increasingly more important to entertain a diverse group of tastes in your marketing efforts.

After months of research and years of watching consumer patterns, McDonald’s has decided to take its cues from the ethnic consumer rather than the ‘traditional’ middle-class Caucasian. Ethnic preferences are historically the tastes that turn into widespread trends for the United States as a whole. By getting away from traditionally-aimed marketing, McDonalds is hoping to stand out from the crowd and market themselves based on the ethnic consumer’s likes and dislikes. These taste preferences will account for the general advertising campaign that will be aired towards the masses. In addition to this, McDonald’s is also planning on catering to individual cultural preferences in the African-American, Asian and Hispanic portions of the population with focused cultural campaigns.

Rather than separate market trends and market to each group specifically, “McDonald’s will take an ad that could be primarily geared toward African-Americans and put a general market advertising dollar behind it,” says Steve Stoute, an advertiser working on McDonald’s marketing account.

McCafe coffee is just one example of ethnic marketing in action.
McCafe coffee is just one example of ethnic marketing in action.

Want to see this theme in action? The recent introduction of new menu items such as fruit smoothies is reflective of the taste preferences in ethnic focus groups. Remember the roll out of the McCafe coffee and espresso beverages in 2009? Many of those drinks are sweet and indulgent, a taste preference that resounds with the African-American community.

So, what’s the bottom-line message to take away from McDonald’s example? Focus advertising efforts on the ever-changing market dimension. As the market continues to become more culturally diverse, traditional marketing methods (which are known for catering to white middle-class Americans) aren’t going to be as well received as in the past. It is now more important than ever to know the tastes and preferences of minority groups!

What do you think about ethnic marketing? Is it innovative or does it simply reinforce stereotypes? Voice your opinions in the comment space below!

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