Commentary Jamaica Magazine

4 Common Errors Marketers Make When Targeting People of Caribbean Heritage

People of Caribbean heritage remain a large and diverse market. The 2000 U.S. Census shows that people of Caribbean American heritage are growing at a faster rate than Black Americans, and are one of the most economically viable communities. There are over 22 million people of Caribbean heritage living in the US. An Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) study done in 2002 shows that people of Caribbean heritage are credited with contributing approximately $1.6 billion in remittances to economies in the Caribbean region each year. Marketers who ignore the people with Caribbean heritage are missing on the opportunities to showcase their products and services to a fast growing segment of the population with significant buying power.

Unfortunately, some of the marketing campaigns of companies who are marketing to people of Caribbean heritage are ineffective. Here are the top 4 reasons.

1. Stereotyping all Caribbean People as one
The most common mistake many marketers make is assuming that the Caribbean people in North America are homogeneous. Even though most of the Caribbean people in North America are either Jamaican or Haitian descent, the other islands cannot be neglected. The Caribbean community is diverse and each group should be considered a niche. The people from the Caribbean are also very patriotic,adamantly identifying with their country of birth. If your Caribbean marketing campaign doesn’t address each island individually chances are it will fail. It may seem as a strategic way to categorize a marketing campain by a region, however in many cases, you may end up offending the target group.

2. Pooling Caribbean people with Black Americans
The next most common mistake categorizing the Caribbean market along with Black American Market. I use the term black American because many Caribbean people do not like the term “African American”. In fact some Caribbean people will write in their nation of birth rather than check African American on most survey forms. An AT&T study found that Caribbean people responded at the high rate of 72 percent when communicated to as “a person of Caribbean Heritage” rather than “an African American” or “a person in the general market.” One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is to use a campaign targeted to Black American assuming it will translate well to the Caribbean market. It is important that companies talk to consultants who are experts in marketing to the Caribbean community to know what messages will reach the market.

3. Neglecting the Caribbean Media
People of Caribbean heritage identify with and embrace their culture and all the outlets that promote their culture. The local Caribbean media is very important. Every major North American city that has high percentage of people of Caribbean has targeted media outlets for this market. There are also quite a few websites online that are targeted and it is important that marketers seek out this outlet to promote their products and services.

4. No Community Involvement
Many advertisers make the mistake that buying advertisement for their products and/or service in Caribbean online/offline media means getting involved in the community. This is not enough. The Caribbean community tend to be very brand loyal as in the countries of their birth, as in many cases there were not a large variety of brands available. The brand that is seen the most provides good service and SUPPORT to the community is also the brand which gains loyal customers in many cases. A Black Diversity Study done in August 2003 by University at Albany and State University of New York found that Caribbean Americans are loyal buyers of consumer goods, annual vacations, personal homes, and sending their children to college at a higher rate than the black American population. The Caribbean community in North America hosts many types of events throughout the year, from Carnivals, to music festivals, theatrical plays, to the celebrations of each countries independence day. These are great opportunities for companies to get involved with the community and get develop brand recognition.

About the author

Xavier Murphy