New York's First Multicultural Marketing Expo Empowers Local Businesses


Great Neck, NY: The New York Multicultural Business Expo was held at Leonard's of Great Neck in Long Island on March 15, 2012. The day-long event brought together business owners and executives of different ethnic backgrounds through a variety of seminars and networking opportunities.

A central theme to the expo was the growing importance of the multicultural consumer in American society. Conservative estimates already place one in three Americans belonging to a Diaspora community. In fact, recent data from the US Census 2010 shows that the Hispanic community in the USA is larger than the total population of Canada. The numbers alone show the growing scale and increasing scope of opportunities for businesses dealing with the ethnic markets.

Seminars that were held covered a wide range of topics such as the future of small businesses, the importance of social media, getting certified by the government to do business, and engaging with the multicultural consumer.

Neeta Bhasin, President and CEO of ASB Communications, moderated a panel at the event, entitled "How to engage with the multicultural consumer". Together with senior executives from State Farm Insurance, Star TV, the Africa Channel, Heat Wave Radio Pacific, and Neo Sports Television, the high-powered panel engaged in a lively discussion on why every business needs to give serious thought to developing or improving their own multicultural communications strategy.

Each panelist shared great insights of their market and elaborated on its significance and potential. The panel also discussed the importance of building a 360 marketing program, by using grassroots activities and events to complement traditional media channels, in reaching out to the multicultural community.

Michelle Hare, of Multicultural Business Development at State Farm Insurance, said, "State Farm believes in having one on one relationships with our consumers, through our network of agents. We also like to sponsor community events in the Asian, Hispanic and African American communities, and are involved with sports and music sponsorships to reach our multicultural customers."

The panel also covered topics such as the current viewership of South Asian channels in the US. Rajan Singh, Executive Vice President of International Business at Star TV said, "Research companies such as Nielsen in the US do not adequately reflect the reality of viewership trends in the US, thereby undervaluing the viewership that multicultural media actually has. This is not the case in the UK where for example Star Plus is rated #6 in terms of viewership among 350 mainstream channels".

Anoop Nigam, Senior Vice President at Neo Sports TV, a cricket channel, added, "Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, more than two billion follow it regularly. Neo invests in the cricket leagues which have some 2,000 teams across the USA to reach our multicultural audience." All this indicates that the viewership for South Asian channels is much greater than the current numbers provided by popular mainstream media statistics.

Ron Garner, senior consultant at the Africa Channel, said, "We saw a lack of programming catering to the needs of African Diaspora. We felt that a channel was needed which gave Africans in America the information that they needed, and to hear the perspective that was lacking in the mainstream media." Steven W. Neumann of Heatwave Radio Pacific said, "We started this channel for the many Filipinos who lacked a radio station where they could hear their own music and could connect with their own culture."

At the end of the day, the panel discussions, networking opportunities and the expo as a whole was very successful in bringing multicultural and mainstream companies together under one roof where they could exchange views, building commercial contacts, and most importantly, begin engaging with the multicultural markets.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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