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The Future of the US Advertising Industry

Posted By briana On March 21, 2011 @ 7:55 am In Measuring America,Overview | 8 Comments

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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