Marketers greet newcomers

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Newly arrived immigrants and those who have yet to acculturate and develop a firm grasp of English can present special challenges for marketers.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Multicultural Market Development Organization in San Juan, P.R. is reaching out to these consumers -- most of them Hispanic -- as part of its overall ethnic pitch.

Graciela Eleta de Cacho, general manager of P&G's MMDO, noting the Hispanic segment as an example, says while many fourth- or fifth-generation Americans are acculturated, most living in the North American region tend to be new immigrants.

"They come as new entrants to categories we market to them: paper towels, conditioners, even disposable diapers," says Ms. Eleta. "Some of these categories are very underdeveloped. We have to do a lot of educational marketing."


P&G held focus groups in several cities with large Hispanic populations and learned immigrants want information about medical services, education and how to get the family ahead in the U.S. without losing their culture's influences.

"These consumers are so hungry to see our product. Many categories are new to them and they don't understand the value of paper towels instead of rags, for example," Ms. Eleta says.

One of P&G's newest strategies is a door-to-door promotion targeting Spanish and English dominant in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. "Avanzando con tu familia," which means "Advancing with your family" is a doorhanger effort that includes coupons, samples and a magazine by the same title.

Sometimes the trick for marketers is to find the consumers. In the general market as well as in the acculturated and bilingual markets, media opportunities are becoming more plentiful -- but are still not on par with general market media.


MCI WorldCom was able to develop a database when it set up 10 toll-free in-language customer service lines in Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

In general, "mailing lists [for newly arrived Asians] are hard to find because [they] don't have the profilings for companies to call on them," says Alex Nakhapetian, direct mail director for specialty shop Admerasia, New York, and MCI's agency for Asian advertising. As a result, "many companies are not interested in [direct mail to newcomers]."

MCI was able to use its database to develop consumer profiles, offer promotions such as in-language sweepstakes, rebates and coupons and ultimately create more expansive mailing lists.

Another Admerasia client, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., uses Chinese dailies to promote its financial services via educational brochures and seminars. Its current Chinese-language color newspaper ad is titled "Life Advice" and invites consumers to fill out a coupon, check boxes to indicate which topics are of interest and mail it in.

Mr. Nakhapetian notes that in-language newspapers can be an important tool, but present a daunting task as in the Vietnamese market alone there are more than 100 community newspapers.

The local focus for Asian consumers makes sense, according to Julia Huang, CEO of InterTrend Communications, Torrance, Calif.

Many of the newly arrived Asians end up in clustered communities. So reaching them is more cost effective, but "the challenge for advertisers is that the market is segmented and you can't have one campaign for Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Laotian consumers."

"Hopefully, the Internet will open the door to more opportunities," Mr. Nakhapetian says. He thinks it will provide direct marketers with more cost-efficient access to consumers in their native language. Admerasia has a sister shop, Cyverasia, which focuses on the Internet.


McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Corp. say they provide culturally relevant in-language efforts, but don't differentiate to reach the newly-arrived.

"We have not found any differences in trial, usage, frequency or loyalty between new arrivals and those who have lived in the U.S. for a longer period of time," says Sandy Salinas, director of ethnic marketing for Burger King.

So far, neither fast-food marketer has developed national campaigns for the Asian-American segment to mirror Hispanic efforts. McDonald's has a national effort in development, says Marta Gerdes, senior director of multicultural marketing for the chain.M

Contributing: Nancy Coltun Webster.

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