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Marketing in Ethnic and Minority Media

If your marketing efforts don't already include ethnic and minority media, now is the time to start.

A closer look at the buying power of ethnic and minority populations, including African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics, is all it takes to persuade many advertisers to jump into ethnic media. By 2008, nearly 5 percent of the country's population will claim Asian ancestry, according to the Simon S. Selig Jr. Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, and Asian-American buying power will reach $526 billion. African-American buying power topped $688 billion in 2002 and is growing by a compound annual rate of more than 6 percent. Meanwhile, U.S. Census 2000 figures showed that more than 1 in 8 inhabitants of the United States is of Hispanic origin, and the Selig Center projects Hispanic buying power ($778 billion) will exceed even that of African Americans ($773 billion) by 2005.

The extent to which ethnic population segments are English-language proficient positively affects their preference for advertising that reaches them in their own language. But that's only part of the story. Among Hispanics, in particular, Spanish is a key marker of personal, social and political identity; and Spanish-language media are important even for those who are fluent English speakers and regularly use other media. Consequently, ethnic media often produce superior ad response rates thanks to loyal readers, viewers or listeners who appreciate receiving communication in their own languages.

Here are four tips to help you evaluate and select the right ethnic media for your marketing program:

1. Focus on media that are vital sources of information. In California, where African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic communities combined make up about half of the state's population, a study by New California Media-a nationwide association of ethnic media organizations-showed these groups prefer to get their news and information from ethnic media outlets. This is where they find information for and about their local communities that's often ignored by other press outlets. Nearly 65 percent of the ethnic Californians surveyed agreed they are "more likely to buy a product or service advertised" in an ethnic-oriented publication or program. Hispanics exhibited the strongest "advertising loyalty" characteristics, followed closely by Asian Americans.

2. When considering print vehicles, look beyond circulation to "pass-along" figures. Hispanic families are often large and extended, which means many individuals will pass along one copy of the same newspaper. For example, La OpiniĆ³n, the largest and most established Spanish-language newspaper in the country, has daily sales of 130,000 copies; but industry studies show that between 500,000 and 700,000 people actually read it. For advertisers, this can mean a lot more bang for your buck.

3. Choose media that make frequency affordable. One of the chief advantages of ethnic media is their cost efficiency. Cost per thousand (CPM) rates for ads on ethnic radio and TV stations are generally lower than mainstream media costs, even when Spanish-language stations are tops in their time periods, which sometimes occurs in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The smartest way to buy is to concentrate your efforts in a few select advertising vehicles and schedule as much "frequency" as you need. Then, if your budget allows, you can buy additional reach by adding more print or broadcast outlets.

4.Advertise in media that reach your target audience with little waste. You can choose from thousands of ethnic and minority newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, and Web sites to reach your prospects. If you have a local audience, be sure to consider the many small, neighborhood ethnic media outlets as well as the major players-like Telemundo stations and Ebony magazine. For help, Allied Media Corp. (www.allied-media.com) and the Ethnic Print Media Group (www.ethnicprintmedia.com) represent networks of African-American and Hispanic media. Or visit Mondo Times (www.mondotimes.com) to search for ethnic media in the United States and Canada.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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This article was originally published in the April 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In the Mix.

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