The Next Economic Power Source

By Oscar Gonzales
RISMEDIA, August 7, 2007–We frequently hear about the shifting generational differences that are taking place among today’s home buyers; how aging Baby Boomers are becoming a lucrative customer niche and how aging brokers and agents are not keeping up with the highly technical and wired 30-somethings.
Still, as the population grows and changes, the brokering of property continues to be practiced relatively unchanged and broker profitability continues to decline year after year. What is fundamentally being overlooked is a home-buying segment that possesses $2.1 trillion of buying power and is expected to grow to almost $3 trillion in the next four years. That overlooked economic power source is emanating from the multicultural consumer.
This is not another opinion or comment on social advocacy that instantly fills your head when you hear the words “multicultural” or “diversity.” It is about the economics and emotional intelligence required to capture those dollars.

The Family Evolution
In the Hispanic market, there is a complex dynamic underway, given the different levels of acculturation and language proficiencies living in one household. For example, traditional family roles have changed where the Hispanic woman is now contributing to the overall household income, while the immigrant children may serve as the go-to person for translating and explaining the U.S. culture. The home-buying process is a multigenerational process in which each member of the family has input.Among African-American families, there is a higher number of female head of households, which facilitates liberal attitudes about gender roles. There is also an increasing number of African-American women choosing to remain unmarried.

Evolution of Trust
One characteristic of the multicultural consumer is the placement of family as the trusted advisor above anyone else. This cultural value is demonstrated more in the immigrant population and is partly due to the lack of trust in business and government in their respective countries. By engaging multicultural consumers and creating a culturally friendly environment, trust among this consumerbase will broaden for an organization.

Multicultural Challenges
Multicultural home buyers want to be addressed in a manner that culturally connects with them. As organizations seek to develop cultural connectivity, understanding the importance of one-on-one relationships is equally important when examining the approach utilized with each multicultural group.

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