Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Does Targeting Really Work? the Perspective of a Dominant Ethnic Group

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Does Targeting Really Work? the Perspective of a Dominant Ethnic Group

Article excerpt


There have been numerous calls to target specific ethnic groups but there are a limited number of studies that show quantitatively the reaction of targeted groups. This study specifically sets out to demonstrate quantitatively the views of a dominant ethnic group towards adverts that target themselves, another nondominant similar ethnic group, and a non-dominant non-similar ethnic group. It is noted that dominant ethnic groups have more positive reactions towards ads targeting themselves and using their language but react negatively to ads targeting other ethnic groups or using other language. Implications to companies are discussed and further research is suggested.


Targeting ethnic groups has become a major advertising effort. Numerous normative articles exhort companies to target ethnic groups and provide real life examples of advertising to such groups (Armstrong, 1999; Bernstel, 2002; De Simone, 2002; Post, 1990; Hein, 2002; Hill, 2002; Jones, 2000; Kumar, 2002; Livingston, 1992; McPherson, 2001 ; Nelson Jr. & Lukas, 1990). However, there is limited amount of quantitative studies that determine the overall persuasion effect and purchase intentions from such adverts (Brumbaugh, 2002; Green, 1999; Khairullah & Khairullah, 1999). Nevertheless, practitioners are exhorted to use targeted marketing promotions to ethnic groups, because they are available, easily demarcated and the best method to obtain customers (Armstrong, 1999; Cui, 1997; Dunn, 1992; Post, 1990; Kinra, 1997; Kumar, 2002; Livingston, 1992; Mummert, 1995; Steere, 1995).

Practitioners and academics have long believed that segmenting and targeting specific customer groups is the basis of marketing. The potential to classify and organize consumers into small, manageable, homogenous groups is an attractive lure. Segmenting allows for targeting. Targeting allows for a business's products, services, promotions, and activities, to be directed to a specific group for the best possible outcome (Kotler & Armstrong, 1994). If products can be differentiated to cater for the needs of specific groups, their superior quality will command higher prices and generate more repeat purchases with less advertising thus lowering costs and boosting profits (Kotler & Armstrong, 1994; Samiee & Roth, 1992; Von der Fehr & Stevik, 1998). Or so the theory goes.

There is nearly no study that specifically looks at those not targeted and how they react to targeted ads. This is due to the fact that the ethnic marketing is seen as a driver for several marketing trends in the United States and with the proliferation of ethnic media companies which can now reach these ethnic groups effectively (Delener & Neelankavil, 1990; Gazdik, 1998; Lipski, 1985; O'Guinn, Faber, & Meyer, 1985; Roslow & Nicholls, 1996). The abundance of specific ethnic products (Herman, 1997) creates the necessity to reach these ethnic groups. Most importantly, ethnic advertising is seen as a way to enhance communication with and gain the approval of the target audience (Holland & Gentry, 1999). So why bother with those that the company does not wish to gain approval from?

Studies have shown that targeted advertisements can create negative emotions from those not targeted (Touchstone, Homer, & Koslow, 1999). Any emotional response generated in the viewing of an advertisement can affect attitude towards the advertisement, attitude towards the brand, and even purchase decisions (Batra & Ray, 1986; Holbrook & Batra, 1987). As such, by utilizing targeted advertising, a company may inadvertently generate negative attitudes towards the advertisement, brand, and reduce the purchase decisions of those not targeted.

This may seem insignificant if a company has only one product and is targeting only one consumer group. In reality this is rare. Most firms have multiple products and target multiple segments. …

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