Ethnic Marketing

Ethnic Minority Marketing Strategy of McDonald's

As the United Kingdom becomes racially and ethnically more diverse, it becomes evermore important for organizations to consider minority segments in their marketing strategies (Cui & Choudhury, 2001; Nwanko & Lindrage, 1998). In 2001, 7.9% of U.K. Population were from non-White ethnic groups ("Population size," 2008). Ignore this segment, by foregoing ethnic minority marketing, and companies ignore a large and valuable opportunity.

Ethnic minority marketing is a term that refers "to the study of marketing within ethnic minority contexts" (Nwanko & Lindridge, 1998, p. 200). McDonald's has realized the value of this growing market segment, and, as such, has employed specific ethnic minority marketing strategies, to garner these valuable consumers. This paper overviews ethnic minority marketing and its importance and then follows with an in-depth analysis of McDonald's ethnic minority marketing strategy.

Ethnic Minority Marketing Overview:

As the United Kingdom becomes evermore racially and ethnically diverse, organizations begin to understand the importance of ethnic minority marketing strategies for their company (Cui, 1997; Cui & Choudhury, 2001; Nwanko & Lindrage, 1998).

Growing competitiveness across most industries equates to organizations needing to create the most effective marketing campaigns in order to attract and retain valuable consumers. This is especially true for the growing and increasingly valuable ethnic minority market segment. Only by understanding the unique needs, wants, motivations, and goals of ethnic minorities can organizations hope to develop successful ethnic minority marketing strategies.

Despite the knowledge that ethnic minority marketing is crucial to so many businesses, these organizations are still often unaware of what true ethnic minority marketing is. "Too often, companies stay with the tried-and-true - the mass media - rather than venturing into nontraditional marketing approaches. it's all too easy to place an ad in a magazine or run a 30-second television spot that depicts a black or Hispanic family and then congratulate oneself for a successful foray into "minority" marketing" (Swenson, 1990, p. 24).

Yet, as Swenson (1990) notes, for ethnic minority marketing to be successful, it requires a significant rethinking of marketing strategies. The organization must first start with thoroughly evaluating how important these segments are to their profitability and future market share. Once this is determined, the organization must value the ethnic minority segment enough to learn about their: culture, needs, attitudes, activities, lifestyles, and even heroes. Effective ethnic minority marketing begins with garnering this segment's trust, with personalized marketing approaches.

This trust is irreplaceable, especially as a survey of multicultural marketing found that most ethnic minorities were concerned about marketers' motives and methods. It was also discovered in this survey that half of respondents indicated that the marketing campaigns currently out there had no relevance for them.

Respondents also indicated that they wanted organizations to be both sensitive and culturally appropriately attentive to their needs (Mersmelstein & Zid, 2005).

Yet, many companies still have a 'marketing myopia' when it comes to ethnic minority marketing. These organizations lack the knowledge and possess naive assumptions about their targeted ethnic consumers. They lack the sensitivity needed to be successful. This often results in misconceptions that spell marketing disaster for the company, as minor faux pas lead to major marketing blunders (Cui, 1997).

Lee (2004) discusses some of the primary perceptions and misconceptions organizations often have when developing ethnic minority marketing strategies.

One such misconception is that people from other cultures only want to do business with someone of their own culture. Lee insists that, in reality, the opposite is true, for a variety of reasons, including a desire to keep personal affairs private. Instead, an ethnic minority marketing strategy for any organization should show that the organization is culturally sensitive to the target market.

The organization must understand that their target consumers' perception is affected by their subjectivity, categorization, selectivity, expectations, and past experience, and as such, ethnic minorities perceptions are often unique. It is the marketers mission to teach their consumers about their product, including: where to purchase it, how to use it, how to maintain it, and how to dispose of it at the end of its life cycle. These methods of teaching thus differ for ethnic minorities, to make the learning experience as effective as possible.

Another misconception is that tailoring a product or service for people from other cultures is simply too much trouble. However, according to Lee (2004), this customization doesn't have to be difficult. An organization can start with the development of promotional materials that are specific to the culture targeted. These should include brochures and signage, as well as advertising, printed and recorded in the major languages of the target audience.

Lee warns that word-for-word translation from English should not be carried out, however, as many concepts and words don't translate very easily. There are a plethora of gaffes in marketing history of campaigns that failed due to translation challenges. In the United Kingdom, many organizations are dealing with the dilemma of whether to translate or not translate by offering a panel on their printed marketing communications that offer the information in a different language. This type of ethnic minority marketing effort targets second generation immigrant community members. However, in some instances, such as Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, the illiteracy rate is significantly high, therefore imagery should be utilized to more effectively convey a powerful message ("Marketing to ethnics," n.d.).

Cui (1997) surmises that one popular ethnic minority marketing strategy, adopted since the late 1970s, is an integrated marketing technique. Instead of separating ethnic minority consumers from an organization's mainstream marketing, the company integrates these consumers into their marketing plans and activities.

In these instances, marketers focus on the proportion of ethnic minority consumers that are represented in their marketing and advertising. Marketing campaigns with 'people of color' represented has organizations seeking a common ground for these minorities, allowing them to become a part of mainstream society. Yet, opponents charge these ads with 'tokenism', and ethnic consumers are often offended by stereotypes employed by these types of culturally insensitive marketing campaigns. In response, multicultural marketing has become more popular.

Multicultural marketing centers on the concept that being integrated and equal, in a society, does not mean that ethnic minorities have to be the same, or that their differences should be ignored. Multicultural marketing to ethnic minorities means the dispelling of racial and ethnic stereotypes. There is an increased ethnic consciousness and sophistication to the needs of ethnic minorities. and, ethnic-sensitive products and services are sometimes produced in response, to this new sensitivity (Cui, 1997).

In some industries, ethnic minority consumers may have preferences for products that are different from Whites. In this instance, product differentiation become part of any ethnic minority marketing strategy.

These differences are noted and the organization's product is then adapted to meet the unique needs and tastes of the ethnic minority consumer. Oftentimes, according to Cui (1997), products that meet the unique needs of ethnic minority consumers are very successful.

In certain instances, there are no discernible preferences that ethnic minority consumers have for a product. As such, the product itself can remain the same, but advertising adaptation occurs for the ethnic minority marketing strategy. Marketing communications are then altered to meet the unique: languages, values, advertising appeals, and media usage patterns of the target market segment. Ethnic minorities often have different advertising responses as well as different media usage patterns. For this reason, modification of advertising messages, as well as selection of alternative channels, must be a part of any effective ethnic minority marketing strategy. True full-fledged ethnic marketing occurs when ethnic minority cultures demand that product differentiation and advertising differentiation both occur (Cui, 1997).

McDonald's Ethnic Minority Marketing Strategies:

McDonald's Corporation is one of the world's leading fast-food restaurants. Yet, the company symbolized by the iconic Golden Arches has suffered in recent years.

As MacArthur (2002) points out, lately there has been a disconnect between the image that the company tried to portray to consumers, of friendly service and fresh burgers served quickly, and the reality that was found in their stores.

For this reason, the company has looked to more effective ethnic minority marketing to improve their stagnant sales.

One of the largest growing ethnic segments, in the UK, is the Chinese community.

This community includes a diverse array of individuals originating from: China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Singapore. The Chinese community is one fo the oldest non-White communities in Britain, dating as far back as the 1800s.

The Chinese population has a fairly young profile, compared to the United Kingdom as a whole ("Marketing to ethnic minorities," n.d.). That, and the continually growing Chinese population makes it one of the most attractive segments for McDonald's.

The United Kingdom's large Black population also makes it an ideal target for McDonald's and their ethnic minority marketing strategies. Like the Chinese community, the Black community is a blend of individuals from different communities that originated from the Caribbean and Africa. Even within these two communities, their unique cultures mean that the two have different characteristics, aspirations, and historical drivers.…