Marketing to minorities is an essential element that every professional needs to consider; at a glance, “America’s Hispanic population is poised to become the single largest minority in the nation; there are 41.3 million Hispanics in the United States – or one in every seven people” (Hass 2007). Being bilingual is nearly a necessity in certain areas of the country, and as a marketing professional, it is ideal if all tactics appealed to a wide range of audiences. However, sometimes it is just as important to focus on one group in order to get the best possible message across.
After pondering how companies best market to minorities, the issue of ethics once again crossed my mind. It must be my conscience coming forth, but as I think about companies – tobacco companies, specifically – and how they push their products onto certain groups, it concerns me that sometimes marketing professionals go just a bit too far. According to an article posted on the American Heart Association Web site, the tobacco industry has upped their campaigns targeted to minorities during the last decade. I know that there are many rules and regulations regarding the advertisement of tobacco, and it is rare to come across an ad nowadays, but I suppose once people are hooked on the product, the need to push the drug decreases. Check this out – “according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 1996 smoking rates among African-American males had doubled within four years” (American Heart Association n.d.). Scary, no? These are young children and teens we are talking about here – the study was done with children as young as 14 to high school kids up to 18 years of age. “Former District of Columbia Health Commissioner Reed Tuckson defined the tobacco industry’s marketing practices as ‘the subjugation of people of color through disease’” (American Heart Association n.d.). Honestly, I don’t know how marketers who dabble in tobacco advertising sleep at night.
On the other side of the fence, there are many campaigns directed towards minorities that have a much more positive light – take, for example, Walt Disney World. A classmate of mine wrote about this company in greater detail, and I found it interesting that the company offers a sister Web site that is completely in the Spanish language. This is extremely accommodating and will make first time travelers feel welcome. Said classmate also spoke of ethics in her post – here we go again – but it is a fine line we walk as marketing professionals, making sure all advertising tactics are honest an unoffending. Disney, to me, has always been ethical in a marketing sense… don’t get me started on the princesses though.
Hass, Werner. (2007). “Marketing to Minorities: The Hispanic Market”. Referenced December 15, 2008. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/197023/marketing_to_minorities.html