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NATPE 2008: Time to pay attention to multi-cultural consumers, says SMG’s Renetta McCann

01-February-2008
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NATPE 2008:  Time to pay attention to multi-cultural consumers, says SMG’s Renetta McCann

NATPE 2008 organised a track ‘Follow the Money’ to focus on growth areas for the television medium in the future. Renetta McCann, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) addressed a session on ‘As the consumer minority becomes a majority: How will the shift shape change the model?’ McCann took the audience through research undertaken by the Starcom MediaVest Group to observe the emerging new audience, and according to the figures presented by McCann, by 2010, the buying spends of multi-cultural audiences like the African-Americans and the Hispanics would be at S1.7 trillion, which would surpass the Caucasian audience’s spending.

She said, “Money is surely changing hands, and for us at Starcom, following the money is not following the marketer, but following the consumer.” She added that television at present wasn’t focussing enough on this audience, and until this audience was connected with, it would disengage from television.

McCann drew a snapshot of the changing media landscape stating that the focus had shifted from analog to digital, from mass to me, from homogenous to distinct, from reaching to captivating and from interrupting to engaging. She informed that the African-American audience wasn’t a homogeneous group, but could be broken down to 12 different sets of audiences that, while defined by a common ‘Struggle’, were different in what they aspired for.

McCann urged the television community to value this audience more accurately as this would unlock the economics of this segment in an interesting way. She said, “Research should be used to base decisions on consumer insights even for the creation of content. The aspirations of this group is different, and understanding that would help develop content that is relevant.”

By her own admission, what McCann suggested was a completely new model of programming that give narrowcasting a definition. However, she was convinced that context mattered in content to create the connect. Once the television audience understood that better, the economics of this model, that doesn’t look attractive now, would change. She said, “This is as doable as it is profoundly necessary.”

How are the advertisers reacting to this information? McCann replied, “Marketers clamour for this, but they find the demands of such a model daunting. In essence, you need 12 different creatives to be able to connect with this emerging audience that has a very strong buying power. It does look difficult, but the shift is happening.”

McCann further suggested that the framework of this research could also be used as a guide to study many other audience segments like Indians, Chinese and Koreans better. She said that as the economics would turn favourable, it would provide enough incentive to people to take on this model.

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