The Future of the US Advertising Industry

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

I just got back from speaking to the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference. Like many industry groups they are filled with conversation about challenges facing their field.

Much of the early session discussion was focused on methods – how to use mobile cellular technology to get messages in the hands of potential customers, how to use social media tools, how to communicate brand image in multiple media, and how to get a look and feel that was complementary across media.

I talked to the group about the age, race, and ethnic diversity in the country. This might be best labeled as “What are the characteristics of the potential consumers?” The findings are very powerful from the combined information from the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey.

We are approaching a new high point in the prevalence of US residents who were born outside the country. The size of the foreign-born population has never been greater since the 1920s; the percentage of the population has grown significantly since the low point in 1960s. This means a higher portion of consumers view products and services partially from the lens of their home country’s culture.

Foreign Born Chart

The race and ethnicity identities within the population are correspondingly becoming more diverse. Minority groups are growing faster than the White Non-Hispanic population, both because of higher fertility rates and immigration. This means the minority populations are especially dominant in younger consumer groups. Advertisers of products of services need to understand the tastes, preferences, and purchasing power of these groups. Those advertisers of products and services aimed at youth will really have to understand the interplay of language, culture, race, and ethnicity.

In this regard, a very interesting subpopulation is that choosing multiple races to describe themselves in Census 2010. While this is still a “single-digit” group in percentages, it’s one that grew at 30-60 percent rates across different states from 2000 to 2010. Some of these folks in some sense live in two cultures. This gives them translational abilities across two sub-cultures. They may provide insights into how their two groups may perceive the value of products and services in different ways.

In short, in addition to adapting to new media, advertisers also have challenges with a very dynamic population using the media.

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8 Responses to The Future of the US Advertising Industry

  1. Richard says:

    I am a foreign born American citizen but was not able to indict it on Census as the only option for my ethnicity was “White”. So the figures for foreign born Americans may actually be much higher.

  2. SK Hong says:

    according to the Korean newspaper company’s survey, a lot of percentage of Korean American did not answer the Census survey. It was over 60% in 2000. In last year, I don’t think it’s been much changed. As Richard said above, the actual number must be higher.

  3. Darryl G. Carter says:

    How the hell do I get past your gazillion screen and circular directions, to get simple, straightforward, basic population totals, by cities within specific counties ?

  4. Smith says:

    True, but you can’t deny the fact that the greater growth is in the BRIC and so it will no longer apply that whatever devised in one of these ‘centers’ is good and excellent for the rest of the world. Companies will stop spending so much in developed countries and shift that money towards the BRIC guys. ‘Centers’ will follow the money, as they’ve always done.
    US will remain important, of course, but no longer the center of the world.

  5. Larry says:

    OK, when will there be 2010 numbers? Graph goes to 2009. Seems like I read 2010 numbers in the paper, but I can’t find them online. ??? Like what’s my town’s population? County? Compared to last census? Simple things and instead I get nowhere fast with this site. Mmmm. I wonder if there’s a piece from the director on how efficient the government is…. oh wait, there it is below. Great.

  6. Enrique says:

    It is incredible that DURING THE LAST THREE (30) DECADES U.S. BORN WHITE POPULATION HAVE NOT INCREASED AT ALL. Even if there are 2.2 million more non-hispanic whites than a decade ago, if we exclude immigrants, the U.S. born white population has not increased at all during the last decades.
    What is the reason? Probably it is very, very expensive for American parents to have babies, so you have to import them from cheap countries. What is true is that during the last decades U.S. born white population has not increased at all. Yes, it is a situation similar to a great part of Europe, but even in France and the U.K. demographic growth of native white population has been higher than that from U.S. born American Wnites. In a record period of time, they have gone from 80% of the U.S. population to just 60% (64% including white immigrants and 72% including white hispanics) but the “Anglo” percentage is going down, and down, and down.
    Perhaps the U.S. quota system which discriminates against white Americans just for their color is part to blame, but much more important is the lack of public kindergarden as nannies are expensive taking into account wages.

  7. Dan says:

    The country’s population has TRIPLED in a hundred years. Are there discussions about population control?

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