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Census Helps Business Target New Markets - 2001-09-10

Data from the latest nationwide census conducted in the United States indicate both population and lifestyle changes have taken place around the country, and many U.S. businesses are quickly responding to the changes.

Population increases can mean sales increases, after all. Rafael Madison, who concentrates on diversity marketing for Safeco - a Seattle, Washington, insurance company - says the rising number of U.S. immigrants has prompted his firm to hire multilingual translators.

"Years ago it was our expectation, if a consumer did not speak English, they would bring someone with them who did, and translate for them," he said. "Well, today, that is no longer acceptable. We have to accommodate those customers or they go somewhere else."

One of the more startling revelations from the 2000 Census was that there were more than three times as many households with "same sex partners" - homosexual households - last year as there had been in 1990.

Mitchell Block, co-owner of Viola's, a new resort for gay and lesbian families, believes the numbers have not changed that much over the last decade. Rather, he says, couples feel more comfortable admitting they are gay today than they did in 1990.

Nonetheless, he says, business at Viola's is booming. "We are already completely booked for some weekends in the fall and actually in the spring. So the response really has been wonderful. There definitely is a market," said Mr. Block.

Raphael Madison says the Census statistics indicate the gay market is not only large. It has a great deal of disposable income: "Dual income, spend a lot of money on travel, buying homes, starting businesses, buying luxury cars. We have started looking at that market and giving the same credits to that [gay] market as we do to married couples."

And his firm is one of many. Since the census bureau statistics came out, everyone from financial service providers to alcohol, fashion, and entertainment firms, to baby food manufacturers have started targeting the gay market.

And, fortunately for marketers, the 2000 Census not only reveals which markets are big ones, but also precisely where they are located.