Multicultural marketing.

Author:Moseley, Laura R.

Despite the current economic downturn, major global companies such as Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler sustain specific budgets for multiethnic marketing. Industry insiders say Kmart's recovery strategy targets the African American market as a core loyal buying segment.

In addition, U.S. Census figures indicate that women purchase 81 percent of consumer goods ranging from cars to clothing and financial services to household goods with an annual buying power estimated at $3.3 trillion.

"The largest corporations have been researching and pursuing (these) markets for quite a while, says Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth. "This is a wake-up call for any consumer business that's been neglecting these markets."

Effectively reaching emerging multicultural market profit centers requires going beyond traditional marketing strategies. Developing creative cutting-edge tactics that involve advertising, public relations and innovative community outreach is mandatory.

Comerica Bank, for example, launched a multicultural marketing initiative several years ago to better serve existing customers and to reach new markets.

"Our niche marketing efforts are enabling us to fulfill our commitment to build long term-relationships with our customers," explains Elaine A. McMahon, senior vice president, Small Business Banking-Southeast Michigan. "Through these efforts, we've become more focused on the unique needs of our customers who are Hispanic, African American, Arab and Chaldean American or women business owners and can better respond to their needs."

Marshall Field's 10-year partnership with the Renaissance Links Inc. in the Detroit Region enables successful fund-raising for such institutions as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. While helping the community, Marshall Field's gets its product in front of an affluent multicultural niche market of over 1,000 in one evening when it annually hosts a fashion show event at the Somerset Collection in Troy.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan actively interacts with multicultural communities regarding health care projects that...

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