Ad remedy: Segments

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Pharmaceutical companies have shied away from marketing to U.S. Hispanics because there's a perception that they are underinsured and turn to alternate sources of medicine, said Lisa Quiroz, publisher of Time Inc.'s People en Espanol.

Ms. Quiroz asserts that's a misconception because the Hispanic market, like the general market, is composed of niches. "There are lots of ways to segment [the Hispanic market]. One way we find very useful is generational segmentation," grouping consumers by birthplace or the number of years they've lived in the U.S., she said. "The most recent immigrant is really grossly underinsured, but the other segments-which make up 80% of the adult market-are insured at the rate of the general market. Marketers need to look at segments born in the U.S. and those that have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S."

Though Hispanic immigrants come from a variety of countries, they do share a language. Therefore, Ms. Quiroz said, marketers should not necessarily see language as a barrier to sending a message to them, either.

Language does become a big hurdle when trying to reach Asian-Americans, where different languages and dialects are spoken by six major groups-Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Not everyone has the budget to create separate efforts in each language, but that shouldn't discourage advertisers, said Larry Moskowitz, director of strategic planning for Kang & Lee, New York. "We come up with a product-specific rationale, and for emotional ties we can tweak language. ... on TV we can use pan-Asian casting with no on-screen dialogue and we can do voice-overs."

Mr. Moskowitz pointed out that lack of diversity in the workplace also impedes the expansion of ethnic marketing. "People in marketing have not been people with truly diverse backgrounds, but that is changing," he said. In the past, "they went to what they were comfortable with. It's marketing as taught in marketing schools."

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