GM TARGETS WOMEN AND MINORITIES WITH NEW 'DIVERSITY' UNIT

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(May 3, 2001) -- General Motor Corp., Detroit, formed a new diversity marketing and sales unit that will oversee programs across its vehicle divisions.

The unit, the Center of Experitse on Diversity, will co-ordinate marketing, research, and local dealer efforts to women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans.

From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, GM's share with African-American buyers slipped to about 20% from 49%. A GM spokeswoman declined to discuss the automaker's current and projected future multicultural market share.

GM's vehicle divisions and five regions were separately conducting efforts to reach women and minorities. The GM spokeswoman said the new unit will help the marketer be more strategic, integrated and co-ordinated. The move marks the latest effort by GM in recent years to centralize operations.

Judy Hu, executive director of advertising and marketing strategy and operations, will head the new group with Michael Jackon, executive director of sales support.

GM's vehicle sales skidded by 9% in the first four months of 2001 to 1.7 million units from 1.55 million for the comprable period a year ago. GM's monthly sales in April dropped by 16% vs.a year ago, the automaker reported April 30. -- Jean Halliday

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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