New Mainstream: How the Multicultural Consumer Is Transforming American Business


An economic revolution is transforming America: the New Mainstream. In this groundbreaking book, Guy Garcia explains how Americans will eat, work, play, learn, and spend money in the twenty-first century—and why any organization that ignores the lessons of the New Mainstream is doomed to fail.

Led by the growing statistical and buying power of blacks, Latinos, and Asians, the New Mainstream is a loose coalition of minorities who have been forced to forge their own identity in ...

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An economic revolution is transforming America: the New Mainstream. In this groundbreaking book, Guy Garcia explains how Americans will eat, work, play, learn, and spend money in the twenty-first century—and why any organization that ignores the lessons of the New Mainstream is doomed to fail.

Led by the growing statistical and buying power of blacks, Latinos, and Asians, the New Mainstream is a loose coalition of minorities who have been forced to forge their own identity in American culture—even as they use and consume goods and services targeted to the general public. This shift in consumer buying power is not only transforming how products are developed, marketed, and bought, it also illustrates that diversity is the driving force of American capitalism. As Garcia shows, The New Mainstream is both a wake-up call and a road map to this new economic reality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Garcia marshals experience as a journalist (13 years at Time), novelist (Obsidian Sky) and multimedia entrepreneur to make "the business case for diversity": "Simply put, diversity breeds money." Those who fail to heed "the multicultural gospel" risk marginalization by the New Mainstream, a dynamic fusion of the "creative class," non-European immigrants and native-born American consumers with rapidly changing tastes and habits. At times, Garcia risks reducing culture to market forces and people to consumers ("for the new multicultural consumer, making and spending money is nothing less than a sacred, life-affirming act"). However, he works enough skepticism and detail into his argument to avoid flattening himself with it, mobilizing an impressively broad knowledge of cultures-popular, folk and high-and a lively sense of history. He warns that "ethnocentric nativism" and xenophobic policies, whether fueled by economic, cultural or terror-driven fears, can only damage the American corporation and nation. Garcia is at his best juggling a diverse range of examples of U.S. multiculturalism-Walt Whitman, 50 Cent, Octavio Paz, Shakira and Craig's List, to name a few-to make the argument that diversity is, more than ever, the dynamo driving American capitalism, and businesses had best take heed. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A new America is emerging. Its population and culture are more diverse than ever before and it is more connected to the outside world than ever before. As the multiculturalism of Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and new immigrants comes together, they forge a New Mainstream-based culture and economy that will soon overcome the Anglocentric "Old" Mainstream. Today, 80 million African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians make up more than one fourth of the country and spend more than $1.2 trillion a year. By 2050, non-Anglos will grow to 47.2 percent of the population. Corporations, politicians, institutions and the media will not only have to accept and understand the New Mainstream, but they will have to embrace it and become part of it. The one constant in American culture is commerce, and to understand where the economy is heading, people will have to understand who determines it and makes it up.

In The New Mainstream, journalist and multimedia entrepreneur Guy Garcia offers a wake-up call and a road map to the new multicultural reality in America, creating a corporate survival guide for the uncharted markets of the 21st century.

The New Mainstream is an unprecedented intersection of demographic, cultural and economic forces remodeling American society. As population trends and profit-driven interests converge, a third force, the "creative class," will join them to create and maintain the infrastructures, system and content of the information age. It is the antithesis of the old ethnocentric nativism that many people believe is the true and threatened America. It thrives on the diversity of ethnicity, but also on the diversity of consumers. Companies that recognize and enter the New Mainstream instead of holding back or treating it like a separate entity will propel the economy of the future.

Ethnicity Inc.
The New Mainstream is causing a shift in culture that will change the economic and business landscape. Marketers learned long ago to translate their commercials into Spanish and show Asians on their billboards, but race is only one indicator of cultural and ethnic differences. Latinos come from many different countries, and in the United States, they have different preferences based on whether they are native-born or immigrants, whether they are speaking English or Spanish, or both. Eventually these differences will disappear.

Diversity initiatives and in-culture knowledge will be unnecessary components of strategy, because the New Mainstream will be the strategy. Panethnicity will be the norm and there will be no need for companies to study the likes and dislikes of different ethnicities. The cultural convergence of companies, marketers and decision makers will be built in, because they will be converged ethnicities.

Latino Growth Opportunity
By 2008, the projected growth for Latinos is 315 percent, for African Americans is 170 percent, for Asians is 287 percent, and the numbers of Native Americans and gays and lesbians will grow as well. Companies must jump on these trends now.

Fannie Mae realized that owning a home in the United States is the single most important generator of wealth, and though natural-born ethnicities equate it with stability, security and permanence, foreign-born immigrants have an even stronger desire to own a home. Fannie Mae leveraged that knowledge to market to immigrant ethnicities, who are already more likely to own homes than their native counterparts.

Companies must do more than recognize the New Mainstream: They must act. Without a diverse work force they will be at a disadvantage in hiring, and they will lose a cultural link to an increasingly critical part of their market. Companies should realize that working with minority clients, suppliers and vendors, and making a strong commitment to diversity in upper management, all create:

  • Increased profits and lower costs.
  • Improved morale and productivity.
  • Expanded market share and new products and services.
  • New markets and position brands for continued growth.
Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060584665
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/18/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,094,405
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy Garcia was a staff writer at Time magazine for thirteen years. The author of Skin Deep and Obsidian Sky, he is also the founding editor of the urban website More recently, he has worked on the development of AOL Latin America, AOL International, and AOL Music.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Terra incognita 1
1 Ethnicity Inc. 3
2 The tiger effect 26
3 Eye of the beholder 42
4 74
Pt. II The history of the future 111
5 Melting pots and salad bowls 113
6 Cowboys and Indians 141
7 Amexica 162
8 Destinations 180
Pt. III The unfinished pyramid 197
9 Liquid assets 199
10 Creative consumption 217
11 Beyond the new mainstream 250
12 How soon is now? 265
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First Chapter

The New Mainstream
How the Multicultural Consumer Is Transforming American Business

Chapter One

Ethnicity Inc.

It's a balmy summer day at New York City's historic South Street Seaport. Outside, tourists in T-shirts and shorts stroll the cobblestone avenues that surround the Fulton Fish Market and gape at nineteenth-century sailing ships that conjure a bygone era. A few yards away, in an air-conditioned loft with panoramic views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, a hundred or so men and women in business attire are staring at a PowerPoint projection screen, trying to peer into the future. They have come to the historic Bridgewaters complex to attend the tenth annual Multicultural Equity Conference, sponsored by the Strategic Research Institute (SRI), a privately owned company that caters to the information and networking needs of executives and human resource officers in finance, technology, marketing, media, and other industries. For the better part of two days, the SRI attendees will be listening to a parade of distinguished speakers telling them everything they need to know about the multicultural economy and why they need to know it. Omar Wasow, an Internet entrepreneur and TV technology commentator who is serving as master of ceremonies, keeps things moving at a brisk talk show tempo, pacing the room with a wireless microphone and pausing occasionally for a well-timed quip. The attendees chuckle at Wasow's jokes and then continue taking notes as if their jobs depend on it, which to a certain extent they do. In a consumer environment where white non- Latinos will make up only 50 percent of the population in 2050, understanding the New Mainstream has become critical for business survival. Those who thrive in the multicultural marketplace will do so not just because of their ability to anticipate what's to come, but because they've absorbed the degree to which things have already changed.

Part data download, part meet and greet, part born-again revivalist meeting, the SRI Multicultural Equity Conference is predicated on the notion that the multicultural market is growing and that the people in the room are in the right place at exactly the right time to capitalize on it. As the conference breaks for lunch, the attendees cluster in the corridors and trade business cards. "It's gotten bigger every year," notes Rupa Ranganathan, a senior vice president of ethnic strategy for SRI who has been organizing ethnic marketing conferences for the firm since 1998. "The demographic is achieving critical mass. The mainstream is going multicultural. That is the trend. And we are at a very exciting crossroads. Because it's like when you plant a garden, and now is just the time when you see it's beginning to bloom. Earlier you had to fight for it, but now you don't have to make too much of a case for multicultural marketing, because who in their right mind is not aware of this growth?"

Ranganathan has noticed an evolution in the interests and attitudes of ethnic marketers, who are increasingly focused on the business case for diversity, which includes tracking return on investment as well as internal staffing and representation. "There are more and more sophisticated discussions at these conferences, simply because the practice is evolving very rapidly," she says. "Every year we see new topics, new buzzwords, new issues, new challenges. The next phase we are all headed to right now is how to do it right, how to do it more effectively, how to be creative. Because it's not enough to say, 'Okay, I've said it in a different language,' or 'I've used a few important cultural cues.' It's going beyond language, to where you're really empathizing and making a cultural connection." Ranganathan, who was born in India and worked in the advertising industry there before coming to the United States, sees parallels in marketing trends between America and her native country, which has long been a multiethnic, polyglot democracy. "Fifty years from now, you may not really need a South Asian or a Latino to effectively market to that segment, because hopefully there is going to be such a cross-pollination of ideas and understanding of culture and behavior issues that by that time everyone will be a global, multicultural citizen," she says. "It's all going to be mixed up. So you might find a Chinese writer coming up with an excellent creative for a Latino ad. That's something way ahead, but I see it coming."

Back in the main conference room, the mood is expectant, even conspiratorial, like that among a group of revolutionaries who know that what they are hearing will change everything, even if most people don't realize it yet. The speakers range from Ray Celaya, an assistant vice president of emerging markets at Allstate Insurance Company, to Miriam Muley, an executive director of diversity growth markets for General Motors. AT&T Wireless, Lehman Bros., Fannie Mae, and more than a dozen other major U.S. companies are also represented. Some of the speakers have come to build their brands, some have come to raise their profile or plug their new book, but every one of them is there to spread the multicultural gospel. The message of the entire conference, and others just like it in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities across the country, is crystallized at one point in a single sentence by Jeffrey Humphreys, an economic forecaster at the Simon Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia: "We are witnessing a shift in economic power that will reshape the economic, political, and cultural landscape of America."

Humphreys has the numbers to back up his claim. The Selig Center projects that by 2008, the combined buying power of African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans will account for 14.3 percent of the nation's total, or $10.6 trillion, up from 10.7 percent in 1990.1 Latino buying power, or total income after taxes, will rise from $653 billion in 2003 to $1,014.2 billion, outpacing the buying power of African Americans, which will rise over the same period from $688 billion to $921 billion ...

The New Mainstream
How the Multicultural Consumer Is Transforming American Business
. Copyright © by Guy Garcia. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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