Experts: Ethnic market to weather ad slowdown

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Multicultural media executives and marketing consultants agree that while the economy may be slowing down, advertisers will not be quick to pull their dollars out of their ethnic marketing budgets.

"I've been at this 20 years, and in the old days, during the recession and economic blips, the first thing that would go would be the ethnic research budget and the ethnic market," said Andrew Erlich, president of Erlich Transcultural Consultants. "With the advent of the census in the '90s and the success people have had and the [anticipated] results of the new census, I think ethnic research and marketing are here to stay. That will be reflected in the spending in ethnic media."

Any slowdown won't be as drastic as multicultural media has seen in the past, said Doug Alligood, senior VP-special markets at BBDO Worldwide, New York.


"Fortunately for the media, clients are taking the market more seriously. If we have a disaster, everyone will hurt. There may be some dialing back, but not as troublesome as we've seen in the past. It will become more competitive for minority media people. They will have to work harder to make gains," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Alligood said he expects marketing efforts pointed at the Hispanic market will continue unabated because advertisers recognize the market and are aggressive about reaching it.

A.G. Edwards & Sons Economist Paul Christopher said that while the economy is slower now than it was a year ago, "We've come down from a very high place to a very normal place."

"Consumers are really not hurting for income," he said. "They have jobs and incomes that are not being whittled down by inflation the way it was in the 1970s."


"It is that marginal product that will be in danger. A consumer might not be as interested in buying a fourth magazine," he said. "So far as advertisers see their consumer base falling off, they may be less willing to place their ads in just any magazine."

Buyers will probably see less of a shift in ethnic media than in the general market, predicted Robert Tassie, president of Unity Media, a New York media buyer.

"This audience is getting tremendous credibility. The budgets have never been overexposed in this area anyhow. We probably won't see an increase, but we won't see a decrease," he said.

"The winners, from an ad spending point of view," for 2001, he said, will be Spanish-language TV networks such as Univision and Telemundo, due to the new census numbers due out this year. The census "will be influential on advertisers that have not paid attention to growth factors," he said.

In the African-American market, Mr. Tassie expects benefits from Viacom agreeing to buy BET in November for $3 billion in Viacom stock (AA, Nov. 13). He noted that the acquisition could create synergy between BET and its soon-to-be-sister networks.

"There are creative ways to look at packaging across the 18 to 34 market....There's potential one could put packages together that could bode well for both."

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