Segregation in Store Products

The United States has become increasingly diversified with growth in many ethnic market segments, making these no longer “minority” groups, but a substantial percentage of the U.S. population. But why do retail stores still carry many products that are aimed at Caucasian shoppers, and neglect other ethnicities? What are the products that are oriented to Hispanic, Asian, Latino, and African American consumers?

Mass market retail stores have long used a program called “planogramming” – a model that retailers use to determine the types and placement of products on shelves to maximize sales. However, many stores, even those in ethnic communities often relegate ethnic-oriented products to back shelves.

Planogramming uses sophisticated modeling techniques to determine the optimum products and placements. However, merchandise planners must take a long hard look at their consumers and market base in order to get the mix right.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups and have them list products that have distinct ethnic differences in these categories:
    1. Hair care
    2. Makeup
    3. Grooming
    4. Snacks
    5. Beverages
    6. Shaving
    7. Ask students how much diversity in products do they see where they shop? Are the products are for one ethnicity? What about in communities with a diverse shopping mix of consumers and ethnic groups?
    8. Have students now search major retailers’ Web sites. What are their observations relative to this topic? Are these the same comments that students have about the bricks-and-mortar stores?
    9. What could retailers do to improve this situation?
    10. Have students research “planogramming” online to understand it further.
    11. Have students develop a shelving or floor plan to reflect an ethnic market.


Source:   Ad Age Daily, 3/14/12

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