However, a major concern facing advertisers now is the possibility that historical criticisms directed at limited or stereotypical advertising content involving minorities (Westerman, 1989; Wilson and Guitierrez, 1995) may have created a negative atmosphere for these consumers to receive current multicultural marketing communication efforts. Similarly, as in-language media continues to grow, some have come to question the usefulness of general market English language media channels to reach consumers from ethnic minority groups (NCM.com, 2005).
Although extensive research since the 1960s has generally acknowledged improvements in the portrayals of minorities in advertising, scholars and practitioners alike still suggest a need for more frequent and more positive portrayals, along with a broader range of roles and a greater degree of accuracy in the portrayals (Taylor and Bang, 1997). Some have suggested that ethnic media--that is, culturally relevant and/or in-language media--may be a better means for successfully reaching and representing ethnic minority consumers than general market English language media (Kalita, 2005; NCM.com, 2005; Yin, 2002)
With increasing improvements of minority portrayals in general media and the development of ethnic media, one area that has been largely overlooked in the literature has been how ethnic minorities actually feel about portrayals of themselves in advertising (Green, 1999; Grier and Brumbaugh, 1999; Holland and Gentry, 1999). Attitudes such as these help form the media environment that in turn determines advertising message effectiveness. A meaningful research agenda relevant to today's media landscape should therefore be to find out (1) if ethnic minorities desire more representation and/or more accurate representation in the media and (2) if the historical criticisms have created a generally negative attitude among ethnic minority consumers and thus a difficult media environment within which a rejection of "mainstream" English language media outlets may exist. To address these issues, African and Latin Americans were selected as the focus of a study as they represent the largest ethnic minority populations in the United States, and these groups have been receiving a significant amount of attention from marketers (Minority Markets Alert IX, 1997).
Size, Growth Rates, And Purchasing Power
Today, there are just over 281 million Americans in the United States and nearly one in four claims to have non-European ethnicities (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). In some of the nation's largest cities (e.g., New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta) more than half of the residents are nonwhites, and in some cases up to 70 percent of a large city's population consists of minorities. This demographic shift is predicted to continue with non-European ethnicities expected to exceed 50 percent of the U.S. population by the middle of this century (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Therefore, to ensure effective marketing communication, it is necessary that marketers understand all aspects of the various ethnic minority groups, ranging from their size and spending power to media use patterns and beliefs regarding marketing efforts.
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