One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Does Not Fit All


A Hispanic man is standing before a bank clerk with a paycheck in one hand and a passport in the other. The clerk stares at him for several uncomfortable seconds and then says in a loud, measured voice, “Driver’s license.” The man, who clearly speaks no English, shows her his passport. Several more uncomfortable seconds pass as the clerk’s stare becomes a glare. “Driver’s license,” she says in an even louder tone, hoping the volume will shock the man into miraculously learning the English language. The man again presents his passport. “No licenso, no casho,” the clerk practically shouts, dismissing the man with a wave of her hand.

When Kelly McDonald, next in line, approached the counter, the clerk’s whole attitude changed. “Good day,” she said in a bright voice. “How may I help you?” She never asked McDonald for a driver’s license.

McDonald, CEO of McDonald Marketing, Dallas, Texas, told the real-life story during her presentation, “Marketing to People Who Are Not Like You,” at the recent Service & Retail Convention in Las Vegas. The point of McDonald’s story and presentation is that the retail customer base in the United States is quickly changing and dealers that want to tap these new, lucrative revenue streams have to adjust their marketing and advertising strategies and make sure their employees understand the new reality.

“The world is becoming increasingly bi-lingual,” said McDonald, who counts Toyota as one of her major clients, but focused much of her presentation on how a broad range of retailers can better target, capture and serve specific market segments. “And I believe you can’t do anything without being sincere.”

While race plays an increasingly important role in sales strategies, there are other segments of the buying public that retailers should pay close attention to. Some of those include gender (selling to a woman takes a much different approach than selling to a man); religion; age/generation, such as seniors, baby boomers, generations X (ages 30-42) and Y (ages 12 to 29); affluence, from the working poor to the filthy rich; and sexual orientation, such as gay and lesbian. “Everything is changing in terms of advertising,” McDonald said. “It’s no longer about mass communication.”

McDonald wrapped up by noting that multicultural market segmentation is the new mainstream and that businesses must reflect their communities to survive. We’ll have more on this topic in an upcoming issue of Picture Business.