Friday, March 12, 2010

Who Are We Really? And Why Marketers Should Care

All of a sudden, it seems like Americans are really into discovering their roots. First there was "Faces of America" on PBS, now followed by "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC. Between the two shows, over a dozen celebrities (of all races and ethnicities) have allowed television audiences to share with them their American story by tracing their family roots and histories, in some cases back to the Founding Fathers.

As Henry Louis Gates Jr. eloquently put it in his PBS series, "America's legacy of immigration is our dual identity," meaning that where we came from will always be part of who we are as Americans. Curiously, while America voyeuristically discovers its own "roots" on TV, the Census is mailing out over 120 million letters to American households to remind them of the importance of being counted and filling out the 2010 Census form which should be in mailboxes across the nation by April 1.

As we all know, Census data is used to allocate annually more than $400 billion to states and communities across the country and to determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. According to Dr. Jeffrey Passell of the Pew Hispanic Center, next year we will probably see a shift in the House of Representatives due to the dramatic population growth in the Sunbelt states -- growth driven largely by Hispanics.

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