DISCUSSION TOPIC: How should mixed race affect target marketing plans?
A recent article in the New York Times entitled Who Are We? New Dialogue on Mixed Race discusses a consumer segment that we don’t hear about much: people who don’t neatly fit into the five racial buckets now being used by the U.S. Census.
According to the article, “The old categories are weakening … as immigration and the advancing age of marriage in the United States fuel a steady rise in the number of interracial marriages. The 2000 Census counted 3.1 million interracial couples, or about 6 percent of married couples. For the first time, the Census that year allowed respondents to identify themselves as being two or more races, a category that now includes 7.3 million Americans, or about 3 percent of the population.”
It’s not yet a big segment, but it’s one that’s growing in terms of visibility and identity, in part fueled by the mixed race heritage of Senator Barack Obama.
Though some choose a multiple race identity, others tend to stick to a one-race label; the decision of choosing a racial identity is often a deeply personal one. According to the article, racial identification “is influenced by how and where they were reared, how others perceive them, what they look like and how they themselves come to embrace their identity.”
Discussion questions: Have the old racial categories become irrelevant? What are the implications for those companies that are specifically targeting specific racial groups with a marketing campaign?
From my observations and experience, issues surrounding race tend to diminish with higher education and income levels. The more people understand others people and feel comfortable about their own financial status, the less likely they are to seek labels to insulate themselves against “others”, based on race or other definitions.
I believe the rich dialogue brought on by both Senator Obama’s and Senator Clinton’s candidacies is beneficial toward getting our country to move beyond race and gender stereotypes. I am optimistic that we are on the right track in this regard.
The marketing question will, in turn, become moot as cultures mix together both via interracial marriages and simply through proximity. The focus should always be on listening to what the customer is saying and observing what they are doing. That is always the recipe for marketing success.
Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist
Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
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