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Ethnic Shift Coming to Retail Nielsen Notes, Rite Aid Realizes

Retailers need to redouble their efforts to reach ethnic consumers because, for many, they will replace Baby Boomers as the critical growth demographic in the marketplace, Nielsen Co. research demonstrates.

Critical to that conclusion is data indicating that, by 2036, households with children will outnumber those 65 and older without children by just five million compared to a 17 million difference in 2007 as the Baby Boomers age. So, retailers who depend on business from families â€" all really, but discount stores, supercenters, warehouse clubs and supermarkets particularly â€" will see a key market shrink.

What's equally important is how that market will be composed. Nielsen noted that multi-cultural or ethnic â€" defined as non-white -- families will grow at a faster rate than the total population. According to the firm, more than half of families with children will be multi-cultural by 2025. By 2050, Nielsen expects that proportion to be greater than 60 percent.

While some companies have ethnic marketing initiatives in place today, by 2020, multi-cultural marketing will be a necessity -- rather than an option -- for doing business. This shift will impact product selection, composition and the methods marketers use to reach their new target audiences.

Although they probably have more opportunity with aging Baby Boomers than most other retailers, drug chains have been particularly aware of the opportunities represented by ethnic consumers, and they continue to pursue new ways to reach them.

On Tuesday, for example, Rite Aid unveiled a multilingual access program it's offering with partner Language Line Services to enhance its pharmacy outreach to ethnic consumers. By the end of May, Rite Aid customers nationally will be able to access a combined document translation and on-demand phone language access system that uses telephone interpreters to consult with pharmacists in more than 175 languages. According to Rite Aid, it will be the first such system to be integrated nationally.

But that's only one aspect of Rite Aid's ethnic outreach. Drug Store News reports that the retailer also has teamed with Cosmetic Promotions, a national marketing agency, to promote its beauty and health departments to Hispanic women through participation in a series of 10 community events in four key Hispanic markets. The initiative builds on Rite Aid's African-American promotional effort, dubbed Beauty the RITE Way.

Among the consumer product categories that Nielsen predicts will grow most significantly by 2020 is ethnic health and beauty products. So, you might say that Rite Aid has an 11-year jump on the future.

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