"Everybody is looking at their customers and saying, `This group might want to receive something slightly different,' " says Bethany Stanley, marketing manager at information solutions company Experian, Orange, Calif. The U.S. Census Bureau "statistics have definitely heightened everyone's interest in doing a one-to-one relationship with ethnic groups."
Compiling such names is a two-step process for list companies and one-to-one marketing agencies: first, glean names from the general population to create a minority list, and then dissect those minority lists into segments. Overall, there are about 100 lists available today for the Hispanic market and 100 for the African-American market, but only about 20 for the Asian-American market, says Rick Blume, VP-list management and database marketing at 21stAZ Marketing, a mailing list company in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Mr. Blume generated a trailblazing Hispanic list for rental in 1988 culled from entrants of a sweepstakes staged by the Univision TV network. This summer, his company debuted its latest Latino list, titled "Hispanic-American Families-Mail-Order Buyers." 21stAZ has about 55 ethnic lists.
Hispanics are by far the fastest growing minority group in the U.S., so they've been the most popular group among deep-pocketed marketers. AT&T Corp., Procter & Gamble Co. and WorldCom each spent more than $30 million last year on media advertising targeting the Hispanic market, according the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
"The tools are out there for the sophisticated marketer" to target the Hispanic market, says Carlos Santiago, co-chair and partner of Santiago & Valdes Solutions, a San Francisco agency specializing in the Hispanic market. "It is just a matter of knowing which variables to be looking at and then what to do with that information, and how to redesign the products and the promotion strategy to be more adaptive to the Hispanic market."
Finding a list is just the beginning. If one-to-one marketing is to be effective, the list must be segmented by a number of variables. Direct marketing agencies rely on their own proprietary means of segmenting lists for their clients.
"There's not a one-stop shop," Mr. Santiago says. "You need to pass [a list] through several filters and add information to have something that is really usable."
SEGMENTATION AN ISSUE
Segmentation is a major consideration for the Asian-American population, which consists of several cultures but, unlike Latinos, as a whole isn't linked by a common language from their homelands. This makes Asian-American lists generally more expensive.
"The Asian lists are going to cost you more than the general-market lists because they're specialized," says Eliot Kang, president-CEO of WPP Group's Kang & Lee, New York.
On top of the added expense for Asian-American lists, many of the lists are just plain unreliable, says Robert Liu, VP of Intertrend Communications, Torrance, Calif., which specializes in the Asian-American market. "In our experience, the quality of the database is sometimes something that you have to overcome," Mr. Liu says.
In the African-American market, privacy can be more of an issue. African-Americans are "the trickiest group to identify because there is neither a language difference nor a surname difference, and it becomes a real privacy concern," says Ms. Stanley.
The creation of African-American lists "is still a relatively underdeveloped area for our market," says Greg Walker, president-chief operating officer at New York agency UniWorld Group, partially owned by WPP.