Radio is the tool to tune into ethnic consumers

by Gary Fries

Multi-cultural marketing has the same goals as any targeted campaign, and that is to reach a specific consumer and motivate him to action. Studies show that consumers are more receptive to a message when it is personalized and delivered in an environment that is a central part of their lifestyle. If you can get inside the consumer's world, and make a connection with a message that is relevant in his life, you have a better chance of making a sale!

A recent study by Wirthlin Worldwide revealed that this is particularly true for radio ( For multi-cultural marketing objectives, Radio is a tailor-made opportunity. According to Arbitron, currently there are more than 600 Hispanic-formatted Radio stations across the country, weekly reaching a total of 95.5% of all Hispanic consumers 12 or over. Arbitron measures eight distinct Hispanic formats (see sidebar), not to mention numerous splintered versions. Radio also reaches 95% of all African-American listeners 12 or older weekly, and there are three Arbitron-measured Urban formats.

One of the most important elements of effective radio advertising is matching the profile of your target customers with listeners of specific radio formats. Radio formats are programmed to target consumers not only by age and gender demographics, but by lifestyle, as well.

For reaching and influencing ethnic and cultural groups, this is significantly advantageous. Spanish-language formats reflect the Hispanic culture and heritage with music, events, and news that are relevant to identifiable segments of the larger Hispanic marketplace. Music genres are indigenous to specific Spanish regions and cultures, and that resonates in the programming of each format also. On-air radio announcers are an integral part of a station's defined lifestyle and are perceived by listeners as speaking directly to them.

When the advertising on a radio station is delivered in a style that reflects the station's format, and the message is relevant to the listener's culture and heritage, there is a strong, personal connection.

Within the Hispanic market you may want to target the Mexican community, listeners with a Puerto Rican or other Caribbean background, Hispanic females, or younger-skewing Hispanics. You will reach a different African-American consumer profile with an urban oldies-formatted station than you will with an urban contemporary station that plays hip-hop. The Asian American population consists of 20 different ethnic groups, but is dominated by six: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. Certain metro areas and states have larger concentrations of Asian-Americans than others. Radio allows you to target highly specific groups wherever they are.

To realize maximum return on your investment, you may need to develop individual messages designed to speak directly to different segments of the multi-cultural population.

Because radio advertising time and production is relatively cost-efficient, you can develop variations on a commercial message that reflect the lifestyle of particular subgroups. Radio allows you to market a brand, build brand loyalty or promote to individual sub-groups with extremely personalized, relevant messages.

You can also work with Hispanic radio stations to develop promotional opportunities, including live events. According to a recent article in, seven out of 10 Hispanics say they are likely to purchase products from companies that have some sort of visual presence at Hispanic festivals and events. Here again, it is the magnetic relationship between the listener and the station that draws crowds and exposes them to your product.

As the concept of mass marketing fades and advertisers focus their marketing plans on targeting consumers within specific ethnic, demographic or lifestyle groups, radio, with its widely diverse formats, continues to emerge as the medium inherently capable of reaching and influencing a precisely targeted customer base.