Q&A: Larry Moskowitz

SAN FRANCISCO Larry Moskowitz, vp of integrated marketing at Global Advertising Strategies, sees fresh opportunities for American brands to reach key U.S. consumers by using international media channels.

Through work with DirectTV, Western Union, UBS PaineWebber and other brands, his eight-year-old marketing agency uses non-U.S. TV and Web sites to reach an emerging group of affluent, tech-savvy, multicultural Americans.

Moskowitz, 41, who spent a decade in China and Taiwan handling public relations and marketing for Vidal Sassoon, Oil of Olay, Merrill Lynch and MTV, explains to Adweek‘s Joan Voight what makes this audience tick and why multicultural executives prefer foreign Web sites to The Wall Street Journal.

Q: Until now multicultural marketing in the U.S. has focused on African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. You call your approach Multicultural Marketing 2.0. Who are you focusing on?
A: Besides those traditional multicultural groups there is an emerging group of residents who came to the United States from other countries and are high income and some of the most-educated people in America. They also travel to and stay in touch with their home regions. Most are first-generation immigrants from Poland, Russia, India and Arabic countries. Together they total about 15 million people and make up about 5-7 percent of the U.S. population. Of that group, the people from India and other South Asian countries are the fastest-growing ethnic segment in the United States. Marketers ask, “Who is using my products?” Increasingly, the answer includes many people from these ethnic segments.

How are the media habits of this emerging multicultural group differ from mainstream U.S.-born consumers?
In general the members of this emerging group regularly view programming from their home country on the Internet and on satellite TV. They also view media from countries where their countrymen have a presence, such as the Indians and Poles who regularly view British media. I like to take the example of my brother-in-law, who is from Taiwan rather than India or Eastern Europe, but has similar habits. He’s in his 30s, works in Silicon Valley, speaks fluent English and has two masters degrees from U.S. universities. If he has only one hour to catch up on the news, he reads the World Journal from China or watches the Mandarin Evening News on TV, instead of using U.S. news outlets. It would be easier for an American brand to reach him via the Chinese media than via The Wall Street Journal.

How important is the Internet, which is inherently global, to their media and communication habits?
It is crucial. These consumers are educated and were born into the digital age. Most of them come from places that have more high-speed Internet access than we have here. The Net lowers the pain of separation from their home country and consequently they are universally wired. These people are the cream of the consumer crop. Yet most of the Web sites that they frequently visit are totally off the radar screen of the advertising networks.

How are the media habits different for second-generation immigrants from these regions?
Most of the second-generation people depend on U.S. media. But a sizable minority is still interested in fashion, entertainment and cultural aspects of their parents’ home country and seeks out non-U.S. media outlets. Unlike the past, it is no longer seen as a conflict to be 100 percent American and to stay close to your home culture. The global economy’s international identity is seen as an advantage, and the Internet empowers it.

How can it help marketers to recognize this emerging multicultural market?
Because this audience uses such a wide range of media, marketers have new and more efficient ways to reach key customers. So instead of reaching a Russian or Indian executive with ads in The Wall Street Journal or on a U.S. Web site, a brand can reach the same executive with an ad in the Indian or Russian news media for a fraction of the cost. You can reach the same Indian millionaire in the Robb Report or on the Indian TV channel Zee TV, and Zee TV would cost less than a quarter of what you’d spend on the U.S. media buy. Also, because a major marketer, such as Dell or Unilever, already advertises to people in India or Russia, it can take those ads and just adapt them to the immigrants in America. It’s relatively simple.

What do you think is the biggest Multicultural 2.0 lesson for U.S. brands?
Realize that America is more than you think. It is a global world and multicultural consumers should be treated like any other segment of the population, such as sports enthusiasts or high-wealth individuals. Reaching them is easier than you imagine; the barriers to entry are minimal. Identify the consumer, then identify the media where you will find them. Too often marketers are frozen by the thought that they have to understand the traditions and the heritage of the cultural group they are targeting. But that is multicultural marketing 1.0. That’s not what it is about anymore.

Which American industries are at the forefront of tapping into this market?
Telecommunications companies, real estate agencies and insurance companies.

Are you personally a member of this emerging market?
I’m a third-generation Eastern European, with a father from a Russian family and a mother from a Polish family.