Countries also vary in ethnic and racial makeup. At one extreme is Japan, where almost everyone is Japanese; at the other is the United States, where people from come virtually all nations. The United States was originally called a "melting pot," but there are increasing signs that the melting didn't occur. Now people call the United States a "salad bowl" society with ethnic groups maintaining their ethnic differences, neighborhoods, and cultures. The U.S. population (267 million in 1997) is 73 percent white. African Americans constitute another 13 percent, and Latinos another 10 percent. The Latino population has been growing fast, with the largest subgroups of Mexican (5.4 percent), Puerto Rican (1.1 percent), and Cuban (0.4 percent) descent. Asian Americans constitute 3.4 percent of the U.S. population, with the Chinese constituting the largest group, followed by the Filipinos, Japanese, Asian Indians, and Koreans, in that order. Latino and Asian American consumers are concentrated in the far western and southern parts of the country, although some dispersal is taking place. Moreover, there are nearly 25 million people living in the United States—more than 9 percent of the population—who were born in another country.
Each group has certain specific wants and buying habits. Several food, clothing, and furniture companies have directed their products and promotions to one or more of these groups.17 For instance, Sears is taking note of the preferences of different ethnic groups:
a If a Sears, Roebuck and Company store has a shopping base that is at least 20 percent Latino, it is designated as a Hispanic store for the purpose of Sears's Hispanic marketing program. More than 130 stores in southern California, Texas, Florida, and New York have earned this label. "We make a special effort to staff those stores with bilingual sales personnel, to use bilingual signage, and to support community programs," says a Sears spokesperson. Choosing merchandise for the Latino marketplace is primarily a color and size issue. "What we find in Hispanic communities is that people tend to be smaller than the general market, and that there is a greater demand for special-occasion clothing and a preference for bright colors. In hardlines, there isn't much difference from the mainstream market."
Yet marketers must be careful not to overgeneralize about ethnic groups. Within each ethnic group are consumers who are as different from each other as they are from Americans of European background. "There is really no such thing as an Asian market," says Greg Macabenta, whose ethnic advertising agency specializes in the Filipino market. Macabenta emphasizes that the five major Asian American groups have their own very specific market characteristics, speak different languages, consume different cuisines, practice different religions, and represent very distinct national cultures.18
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