Geographical Shifts in Population

This is a period of great migratory movements between and within countries. Since the collapse of Soviet eastern Europe, nationalities are reasserting themselves and forming independent countries. The new countries are making certain ethnic groups n unwelcome (such as Russians in Latvia or Muslims in Serbia), and many of these groups are migrating to safer areas. As foreign groups enter other countries for political sanctuary, some local groups start protesting. In the United States, there has been opposition to the influx of immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, and certain Asian nations. Yet many immigrants have done very well. Forward-looking companies and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the growth in immigrant populations and marketing their wares specifically to these new members of the population.

■ 1-800-777-CL B, I . When they came to the United States from Taiwan in the late 1970s, brother and sister Marty and Helen Shih earned a living by selling flowers on a street corner. They now own an 800-employee telemarketing business, 1-800-777-CLUB, Inc., based in El Monte, California. That number logs about 1,200 phone calls a day from Asian immigrants seeking information in six languages: Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Tagalog, and English. The callers seek advice on dealing with immigration officials, perhaps, or help in understanding an electric bill. The Shihs use those calls to add to a database of names, phone numbers, and demographic information that is then used for highly targeted telemarketing. The Shihs' great advantage is that their telemarketers talk in their native language to people who are far from assimilated. A recent Vietnamese immigrant is thrilled to pick up the phone and hear someone speaking Vietnamese. Last year, the Shihs' telemarketers sold more than $146 million worth of goods and services for companies including Sprint Corporation and DHL Worldwide Express. Their database now has around 1.5 million individual names covering a high percentage of Asian American households and 300,000 businesses.22

Population movement also occurs as people migrate from rural to urban areas, and then to suburban areas. The U.S. population has now undergone another shift, which demographers call "the rural rebound." Nonmetropolitan counties that lost population to cities for most of this century are now attracting large numbers of urban refugees. Between 1990 and 1995, the rural population has grown 3.1 percent as people from the city have moved to small towns.23

■ Ca O Wanda Urbanska and her husband, Frank Levering, moved from the media grind of Los Angeles to a simpler life in Mount Airy, North Carolina (population 7,200). Urbanska's former job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Levering's former job as a screenwriter for B movies had taken up so much of their time and energy that they couldn't really enjoy the material gains they were making. When Levering's father had a heart attack, the couple packed up and moved to Mt. Airy to help him with his fruit orchard. They still help him run the orchard while doing freelance writing on the side, such as two books about seeking a better life: Simple Living and Moving to a Small Town.24

Businesses with potential to cash in on the rural rebound might be those that cater to the growing SOHO (small office-home office) segment. For instance, makers of RTA (ready to assemble) furniture might find a strong consumer base among all the cashed-out former city residents setting up offices in small towns or telecommuting from there to larger companies.

Location makes a difference in goods and service preferences. The movement to the Sunbelt states has lessened the demand for warm clothing and home heating equipment and increased the demand for air conditioning. Those who live in large cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco account for most of the sales of expensive furs, perfumes, luggage, and works of art. These cities also support the opera, ballet, and other forms of culture. Americans living in the suburbs lead more casual lives, do more outdoor living, and have greater neighbor interaction, higher incomes, and younger families. Suburbanites buy vans, home workshop equipment, outdoor furniture, lawn and gardening tools, and outdoor cooking equipment. There are also regional differences: People in Seattle buy more toothbrushes per capita than people in any other U.S. city; people in Salt Lake City eat more candy bars; people from New Orleans use more ketchup; and people in Miami drink more prune juice.

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