POLISH AMERICANS The overlooked ethnic market

WXTV is not alone.
WXTV is the most dominant Spanish station in New York City. Showing a steady gain in overall ratings, it still suffers from advertisers’ bias against minorities. While this plagues all minority news media agencies, this is a particularly serious issue for the Chicago Polish community and the local newspapers and radio stations.
The issue of national approaches to marketing and advertising has become a focal point in large ethnic communities like Chicago’s Polonia. The current trend of the United States demographics would seem to support a substantial effort to gain ethnic and racial consumer support. The present estimates show that the spending power of immigrants last year was over $750 billion dollars. The estimates show that by 2010 racial and ethnic groups will be spending $3 trillion dollars annually and that the entire United States population will be at least fifty percent minorities by 2050. These numbers created the need for „niche marketing”. Niche marketing describes an advertiser that focuses on a specific demographic group because of the belief that they may be more willing to buy a certain product than the general population. Yet with statistics so staggering, why do so many ethnic groups still have such a difficult time gaining a substantial share of this new advertising pie? The issue is a continued bias and dependence on stereotypical profiling.
Marketers have based many decisions on negative connotations of ethnic communities. Historically, marketers felt that the ethnic community was simply a small, closed off group that lacked purchasing power, were expensive to serve, and were not brand loyal. Marketing executives, still predominantly white, must drop the notion that immigrants are all poor or have no money. Each group is divided into economic classes just like the general white population.
For the Polish community, the larger problem stems from ethnic clustering. The Polish community is represented by 13, 000 new immigrants each year. The local community, in excess of one million, represents a very strong, educated contingency that needs products and services as much as any other ethnicity. The problem is that Polish immigrants are all blanketed as white upon arrival to the United States. They are not given a special racial group designation that Hispanics or Asians receive that advertisers can specifically target. In addition, marketers group all Eastern Europeans together completely oblivious that a Polish immigrant and a Russian immigrant do not have the exact same needs and values.
The Polish community must act together to eliminate the bias that causes such a large strain on their news media. The primary issue is the census. In the early stages of the census collection in Chicago, it was noted that while census forms were translated in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalong, a Filipino language, no such translation was done in Polish. The census statistics are the primary measure of demographics for marketers. The Polish community must unite and ensure that a proper estimate of their buying power reaches the agencies. The goal is to make advertising in the Polish community seem like a business requirement. Marketers are fully aware that ethnic news media is cheaper to advertise in and that they often lack strong competition. The key is to convince them that it is financially prudent.
The final concern is with the advertising itself. Many examples exist where foolish ethnic research or straight translation of a national campaign has only brought embarrassment and serious detriment to companies. While often the case is poor market research, it is also an issue of limited information. Diversity is becoming a mainstay of many advertising agencies. This new approach has made a difference in the hiring rates of Black, Hispanic, and Asian advertising and marketing employees. However, white ethnic groups, like the Polish, are being completely overlooked as representative of specific communities. It is imperative that Polish community members promote advertising and marketing as a viable and respected profession. People of Polish decent will be the only ones who can provide necessary information on the communities’ specific needs and the mandatory factual and insightful information on how to design a proper advertising campaign. While a diversified approach to advertising is starting to grow, a potential set back in the Polish community due to inaccessible information can easily lead to a termination in any future marketing.
Ethnic media is a unique voice that is dependent on advertising and must receive support for it’s services. An ethnic newspaper or radio station does not just provide information but an unmatched service that addresses the positive stories that otherwise never get reported about the community. Many in the ethnic publishing and broadcasting business feel that companies who advertise are actually supporting their communities and receive an added bonus of allegiance that national news media formats can not provide. However, this is not a sufficient reason for advertising, because many companies are based strictly on the bottom line of a communitys market share and spending power. The community must show that they represent a strong circulation base with a desire to purchase general products and services. Individuals should aim to become part of these organizations to promote the Polish community.
This is the only way to make sure that advertisers see Polish news media not as a viable option but as an economic necessity.

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