Multicultural Marketing Blog: GM’s Media Outreach to African Americans Comes Under Fire.

Target Market News, a Chicago-based research company published data that showed that African-American consumers spent approximately $2.8 billion on new General Motors cars in 2009. General Motors appeared to be a big hit for African Americans who bought new cars.

The flip side of that data is about GM’s spend on reaching the African American population. According to unnamed national sources, it appears that General Motors only spent $29.9 million or 2.4% of its approximately billion dollar marketing budget on black media advertising.

So I get why “experts” are baffled over the almost insignificant spend by General Motors in reaching an audience that is clearly engaged with their brand.

But what baffles me is how GM’s negligible spend towards reaching the African American audience through black-focused media can “border on being criminal” or be “malignant”. Those are the words used by Danny Bakewell, chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Mr Bakewell wants to confront the automotive industry about their so called “imbalance”. Oh brother!

Is GM taking the African-American population for granted? Perhaps!

  • Or perhaps GM’s marketing team felt that they are doing well enough in the African American market segment and decided to spend more money on attracting an audience that is not so enamored with GM vehicles.
  • Maybe GM’s team wasn’t really tracking their marketing spend by ethnic marketing segments?
  • Or it could very well be that GM’s marketing team is taking more of their spend online and thus cutting spend across other segments.

I didn’t see any data that showed a comparison of % spent on Indian Americans or Asians or Women to know if the imbalance is towards one ethnic community or all. Data could very well show that GM’s doing pretty well marketing to the African American population and is doing really bad target marketing to Indian Americans. I know for a fact that Indian Americans prefer foreign cars for more reasons that one. Knowing the Indian American market segment and knowing what I know about GM, I would venture a guess that GM doesn’t spend any real marketing dollars on attracting the Indian American population. But then again, I could be completely wrong and perhaps GM is spending a ton of money trying to attract a population that is more interested in driving a BMW or a Lexus.

So what's my point?

In my humble opinion, GM’s lack of marketing spend to target market to African Americans is not a race issue or bias against African Americans. It also is in no way unethical nor is it a moral issue as is being made out by Mr. Bakewell. GM and other companies should be able to spend their marketing dollars where they want to spend. They have to know where they will get their biggest bang and if they don’t the loss is certainly theirs.  I mean, where do we draw the line at dictating what a company should do and not do? Government Motors or not, GM still has the onus of making decisions for itself.

Love to hear your comments if you don't agree with me.

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