Sunday 20th of August 2017

By Ronald Wong

There have always been “Two Americas.” More than 30 years ago, Governor Mario Cuomo described a “Tale of Two Cities” during his keynote address at the Democratic National Committee. Cuomo’s speech was in response to President Ronald Reagan’s characterization of America as a, “shining city on a hill.”

“But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one; where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate,” Cuomo declared in his keynote address.

The inequities and poverty which Cuomo spoke of in 1984 are even more dramatic today. Sadly, indeed, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor poorer.

But nothing has brought the divisions within America more to light than the recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and leader of the free world. America has never been more divided: divided by race; divided by class; divided by gender; and divided by most every attribute which defines human existence.

America is not only more divided, but it is more diverse and growing more diverse by the day. In the United States today, more than 21 of the top 25 most populated counties are more than 50% multicultural. In California, a majority of the population (57%) is Latino, Asian Pacific Islander (API) or African American–22.2 million out of California’s total population of 38.8 million are people of color. Latinos alone outnumber Caucasians in California (14.99 million vs 14.92 million, respectively).

Other states with more than 50% multicultural populations include Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia. Emerging majority-minority states include Nevada, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona, Florida and New York.

Immigration is fueling America’s increasing diversity. APIs are the fastest growing ethnic group in America, followed by Latinos. In California, Latinos and APIs will provide virtually all of the growth in California’s population over the next 45 years.

The U.S. Latino population topped 54 million (17%) as of July 2013, an increase of 2.1% over 2012. Meanwhile the API population grew to 19.4 million (6%), with a growth rate of 2.9%.

America’s diversity is inevitable–but are divisions as well? In our country’s brief history, we have embraced diversity; in fact, our country was built upon it. Immigration has always fueled our country’s growth and success.

Regardless of the current political climate and the views of our President, immigration has been and will always be an essential part of the American story–all of our stories; whether we are recent immigrants or have been here for generations.

Diversity is part of the American fabric. Companies which embrace and celebrate it are being richly rewarded. Here in California, most companies market and reach out to ethnic communities as a matter of course.

As the buying power and social influence of ethnic groups continues to expand, it becomes indispensable for marketers and advertisers to understand their expectations and preferences. The buying power of U.S. Latinos now exceeds $1.2 trillion annually. (Nielsen-Hispanic Spending on Packaged Goods, 2015). Latinos Consumer Spending is expected to grow by 85% over the next 10 years, compared to 50% of non-Latinos.

API buying power was $770 billion in 2014 and is expected to increase to $1 trillion by 2018. APIs are the most affluent of the multicultural segments.

In reaching the Latino and API communities it’s important to remember that these are immigrant communities and reaching them isn’t as easy as advertising in the mainstream English-language media. 90.4% of APIs speak a language other than English at home. Of that, 57.5% report speaking English less than “very well.” 74% of APIs and about half of Latino adults are foreign-born, so their preferred language may not be English.

Nearly half of people of color prefer watching ethnic television. 45% percent of all African American, Latino, API, Native American and Arab Americans prefer ethnic television, radio or newspapers to their mainstream counterparts. These “primary consumers” also indicated that they access ethnic media frequently. In addition to the 29 million “primary consumers,” ethnic media also reaches another 22 million ethnic adults on a regular basis. The overwhelming majority (80%) of the ethnic population is reached by ethnic media on a regular basis.

Communicating to ethnic audiences in their language of preference is only the first step. It’s not as easy as simple translation. To truly motivate behavioral change, sell a product, change an opinion, or create brand loyalty you have to meet the people where they are and talk to them in ways that demonstrate a sincere understanding of their hopes, their fears, their dreams and aspirations.

This is why we created Imprenta Communications Group, an award-winning public affairs, ethnic marketing and campaign firm which specializes in reaching diverse audiences. Imprenta’s mission is to empower communities of color by giving them a voice and communicating to them in ways which respects their diversity and understands their culture.

This respect of diversity and deep understanding of communities of color has fueled Imprenta’s radical growth and success. For 2 years in a row, Inc. Magazine has recognized Imprenta as one of the fastest growing companies in America. The company is also one of the most decorated public relations agencies in the country, including being recognized as the 2016 Boutique Agency of the Year, among many other awards and recognitions.

By embracing and celebrating diversity Imprenta is helping its clients succeed and win in the market place. Inclusion and tolerance has always made America a winner on the world stage – companies which are in tune to the changing dynamics and implications of a truly multi-ethnic global market will continue to thrive.

America has the most talented workforce and the strongest economy in the world. We can’t deny that our diversity as a nation has been a big part of that success – it’s a unique strength given added importance as our nation’s population becomes ever more diverse.

Whatever your political leanings or social views are, the market will speak and determine our fate. Companies that ignore or dismiss this evolution of the American consumer do so at their own peril.

Ronald Wong is the CEO of Imprenta Communications Group

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