Multicultural Groups in US Remain Underrepresented in Media Spend

August 19, 2019

Multicultural media spend grew by 5.6% last year to $25.9 billion in 2018, per a report [download page] by PQ Media and the ANA. While this year multicultural ad spending growth is expected to slow to a 4.5% gain, the increase will return apace in 2020, forecast to rise by 6.3% and reach $28.7 billion.

Multicultural advertising differs quite significantly from advertising as a whole in media allocation. Typically, spend is deployed more towards traditional channels rather than newer forms of media.

For example, almost one-third of multicultural media spend (29.6%) goes to TV advertising, a proportion almost twice that of the overall media market (16.7%). Similarly, print makes up 5.4% of multicultural media budgets, compared to 3.7% for media overall.

The situation is reversed for digital advertising. This channel gets just 1 in 10 dollars spent on multicultural media, compared with close to 1 in 5 (18%) for media as a whole.

That being said, advertising targeted at different ethnic backgrounds in the US still indexes far below its relative population share.

  • Hispanic Americans make up 18.1% of the population, but only 3.6% of advertising spend is targeted at them.
  • African Americans make up 13.4% of US consumers, but only are targeted by 1.4% of spend.
  • Asian Americans make up more than 1 in 20 (5.8%) members of the population, but only attract 0.1% of advertising and media revenue.

For more data on how Hispanic and African-American adults use various media types in the US, purchase MarketingCharts’ Media Audience Demographics report.

Some key highlights across each of these groups are included below.

Multicultural Media Trends for Hispanic Americans

In 2018, total media revenues targeted to Hispanic Americans rose 5.3% to $17.94 billion. But while Hispanic American media is the largest of the three multicultural groups studied, it is the slowest growing in percentage terms. This year growth is forecast at 4.1% (to $18.67 billion) and in 2020 a 6.1% rise is expected (to $19.80 billion).

A major driver for 2018’s growth (and a reason for 2019’s slower performance) is the impact of electoral spending, particularly in Florida and the Southwest. In 2020, the FIFA World Cup is expected to be another factor behind the forecast rise.

As is the case with multicultural media overall, TV was largest media platform at $5.43 billion in spend last year, but branded and content marketing is the fastest-growing (11.5%), followed closely behind by influencer marketing (11%). That being said, these two latter channels represent a small proportion of overall spend, at $0.64 billion and $0.59 billion respectively.

Digital advertising was the fifth-largest category of 2018 ($1.69 billion) for Hispanic Americans, putting it behind relationship marketing and promotional marketing. The fact that digital ranks so low on the list may be in part influenced by lower than average home broadband ownership among Hispanic Americans.

The only channel experiencing a decline in 2018 was print, falling by 3% to $0.84 billion.

Multicultural Media Trends for African Americans

African American media ranked next in both size and growth among the demographic categories studied, with a rise of 6.1% to $7.2 billion in 2018. Going forward, spend is expected to grow by 5.3% in 2019 (to $7.58 billion) and by 6.8% in 2020 (to $8.09 billion). The Summer Olympics are expected to be a driving factor in 2020, in addition to the election.

Similarly to Hispanic Americans, television advertising was the largest category ($2.01 billion) of 2018, accounting for almost 28% of total spend. African-American adults are keen TV viewers – watching about twice as much traditional TV as Hispanic Americans and 3 times as much as Asian-Americans. There has been in recent years an increased diversity of programming on broadcast networks featuring mostly Black casts and/or leading actors, but diversity remains an issue for multicultural groups in movies and on TV.

Multicultural Media Trends for Asian Americans

Marketing targeting Asian Americans reached only $722 million in 2018, although it experienced strong growth of 7% – making it the smallest yet fastest-growing demographic of the three. This may indicate that marketers are realizing an opportunity, as Nielsen estimates Asian American spending power to have hit $1 trillion last year.

Sports is also behind growth with this segment, with the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo helping to fuel growth. Figures for 2019 are forecast to hit $768 million (6.4% growth) and $826 million in 2020 (7.5% growth).

Asian Americans over-index on digital spend relative to Hispanic and African Americans, making digital advertising the second-largest category at $118 million in 2018, with a growth rate of 11.8%. Asian-Americans have traditionally over-indexed the wider population in their use of digital devices and attitudes towards new technology, which marketers have likely recognized.

Within this diverse group, Chinese Americans attract the most spend in non-English language media, accounting for $186 million in total.

You can download the full report here.

About the Data: US population share by ethnicity based on US Census Bureau data. US advertising and brand activation revenue share based on PQ Media’s forecast.


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