Fast Food’s “Ethnic Insights”

NEW YORK – There is no denying the fast-food industry’s contribution to America’s obesity epidemic. Now, Asians and Asian-Americans could follow on this path, as major fast-food chains like McDonald’s target them disproportionately.

Although Asian-Americans amount to only 6% of the United States’ population, the marketing magazine Advertising Age reports that for every nine focus groups that McDonald’s organizes, two (22%) are Asian-focused, while another four center on other minorities. As a result, the strategies employed by McDonald’s and other brands could affect the health of immigrants and minority groups more than that of other segments of the US population.

At the Asia Society’s Diversity Leadership Forum earlier this month in New York, McDonald’s Director of Ethnic Marketing Vivien Chen described how the company has focused its marketing on the ethnic consumer. McDonald’s has adopted a so-called “30-40-50” approach, because ethnic minorities (not only Asian-Americans) represent 30% of its overall business; 40% of its revenue; and 50% of its business from customers under the age of 18.

Chen claims that its strategy – called “Leading with ethnic insights” – shows the company’s commitment to the Asian-American consumer. Indeed, McDonald’s – and other restaurants that sell products that contribute substantially to obesity – likely will continue to target this demographic.