Foreign Markets Businesses Cater to Ethnic Groups

Article excerpt

Vladimir Lozovsky and Alex Khmyrov have determined that, in

the ruthless world of auto sales, Russians can be the most

ruthless customers.

"They're different," Lozovsky said. "They're all looking for a

good deal, and they're very priceconscious. Selling to them is a

lot of work. It can be a headache.

"They've worked hard for their money," he said, "and they don't

want to part with it if they don't have to."

Nevertheless, Buddy Hutchinson Toyota-Pontiac on Jacksonville's

Southside, where Lozovsky and Khmyrov work as salesmen, has

placed advertisements in Russian, trying to tap the small but

growing ethnic group, which numbers about 5,000 in Jacksonville.

Buddy Hutchinson, which also advertises in Spanish, is just one

of a number of Jacksonville businesses that are recognizing

ethnic groups as valuable markets.

At least one other auto dealer, Frank Griffin Jeep Eagle

Chrysler Plymouth, also is advertising in languages other than

English. Some banks, especially those with branches in

neighborhoods with large numbers of a particular ethnic group,

target those groups as customers. Insurance companies are doing

the same. The Chamber of Commerce is including ethnic groups in

its program identifying specialized markets, a spokeswoman said.

Thomas Maloney, general manager for John Hancock Mutual Life

Insurance Co. in Jacksonville, said the city's ethnic groups

aren't large enough yet to justify hiring sales representatives

specifically for those markets, but it's on the horizon.

"On the national level, the company is really interested in

carving out those market segments that have enough people,"

Maloney said. "We've scripted contracts in other languages here,

but Jacksonville doesn't have the numbers just yet [to hire

sales people specifically for ethnic groups]."

The 1990 Census counted about 17,500 Hispanics in Jacksonville

and 13,000 Asians, the largest of the city's general ethnic

groups. But those groups, as well as Russians and

Eastern Europeans, have grown since then, when the metro area's

population was tabbed at 673,000 compared with its current 1

million. …