Critical review on Shopping for Identity
Becky Ying Zhang MSMI
No doubt Marilyn Halter is a pioneer of Marketing of Ethnicity. Her insights are sharp and cases she used are still inspiring up to now. However, I still found some of her perspectives didn’t touch the very point but stays in the superficial layer with assumptions.
The helpful ideas:
“Never really a melting pot, but now more a ‘tossed salad’”
This is brilliant since even before 1960s, people always regard America as a melting pot. Not just American people, even people in Asia, like my parents’ generation, perceive America a country that we Chinese will be washed into white after landing in the country. The early immigrants did make great effort to assimilate, literally ‘leave the Old Country behind’ and ‘let go of the past’ (Page 80).
However, Old country could be left behind but people are still people. People are kind of animal with the unique culture codes in their genes. Something can’t let go. Then this idea becomes the theory root for the ethnic marketing: To see the difference, to acknowledge the difference and make money through the difference.
The logic is simple, as Marilyn stated in the book, if you want to touch the pocket, you need to touch the heart first. Not every detail of a certain product could touch the hearts of all the ethnic groups. Then ethnic segmentation becomes a must. Actually I think, ethnic segmentation is kind of easy but profitable efforts, as she stated: “ethnicity offers tangible markets and potent symbols of ascribed commonality”.
Look at the ethnic groups from two angels: recent new comers vs native born neo-ethnics
I have to confess that I didn’t think as thoroughly as she did in the past when we are talking about the ethnic marketing. This is so important since the two groups may have different features that marketers need to look at.
As Marilyn stated on p194: “In the traditional societies, ethnicity had an ascriptive status in which...