People of Caribbean heritage remain a large and diverse market. Census data shows that the number of Caribbean Americans is growing at a faster rate than that of African Americans and is one of the most economically viable minority communities.

More than 22 million people of Caribbean heritage live in the US (according to Strategy Research Corporation). An Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) study done in 2002 shows that people of Caribbean heritage are credited with contributing approximately $1.6 billion in remittances to economies in the Caribbean region each year.

Moreover, a Black Diversity Study done in August 2003 by the University at Albany, State University of New York, found that Caribbean Americans are loyal buyers of consumer goods, annual vacations, and homes. They are also sending their children to college at a higher rate than many other populations.

Marketers who ignore people of Caribbean heritage are missing on the opportunities to showcase their products and services to a fast-growing segment with significant buying power.

Unfortunately, some of the marketing campaigns of companies who are marketing to people of Caribbean heritage are ineffective. Here are the top four reasons.

1. Lumping Caribbean People Into One Group

The most common mistake many marketers make is assuming that the Caribbean people in North America are homogeneous. Even though most of them are either Jamaican or Haitian, the other islands cannot be neglected.

The Caribbean community is diverse and each group is a niche. The people from the Caribbean are also patriotic and adamantly identify with their country of birth. If your Caribbean marketing campaign doesn't address each island individually, chances are it will fail.

It may seem politically correct to group together the region as one, and perhaps it is the best way to categorize a marketing campaign. However, in many cases, you end up offending.

2. Pooling Caribbean People With African Americans

The next most common mistake is categorizing the Caribbean market along with African American market. Many Caribbean people do not like the term "African American." In fact, on most survey forms Caribbean people tend to write in their nation of birth rather than check the "African American" box.

An AT&T study found that Caribbean people responded at the high rate of 72 percent when communicated to as "a person of Caribbean heritage" rather than "an African American" or "a person in the general market." One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is to use a campaign targeted to African Americans, assuming it will translate well to the Caribbean market.

3. Neglecting the Caribbean Media

People of Caribbean heritage identify with and embrace their culture and all those outlets that promote their culture. The local Caribbean media is very important. Every major North American city that has high percentage of Caribbean people has targeted media outlets for this market. There are also quite a few Web sites that are targeted to this market. It is important that marketers seek out an outlet to promote their products and services.

4. Having No Community Involvement

Many advertisers assume that buying advertisement for their products or services in Caribbean online/offline media means getting involved in the community. But that is not enough.

The Caribbean community in North America hosts many types of events throughout the year. From carnivals to music festivals, theatrical plays to the celebrations of each country's independence day. These are great opportunities for companies to get involved with the community and get their names out.

The Caribbean community can become very brand-loyal. In many cases, there are few brands to choose from in the countries of their birth. The brand that is seen as the one that most provides good service and support to the community is also the brand that gains loyal customers.

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Xavier Murphy operates and the consulting firm Contact him at