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Monday, August 11, 2008

Our impact on each other

A very good friend (and intelligent colleague) once gave me this definition of acculturation: “Changes which occur within one population, as a result of having come into contact with another.”

Our dialogue was stimulating, and had to do with the fact that immigrants to the U.S. are not only changed for having come here. Existing residents are changed as a result of having come into contact with their new neighbors.

I was reminded of this conversation when I read a recent story about the influence of “second generations” on the cultural (and culinary) landscape of America. The article, published by Media Post Marketing Daily, suggests that a second generation of immigrants will enjoy foods that not just native to their homeland or their new home… but a hybrid of tastes somewhere between the two. The piece cited a recent trend mapping report, published by the Center for Culinary Development.

Implications: A lot of companies are fixated on serving a wide variety consumers who have recently arrived in the United States from other parts of the world… including Hispanics of diverse origin, Asian, and Eastern Bloc Europeans. But in addition to serving these constituencies of immigrants… are you anticipating how to best serve their offspring? And have you considered how the culinary tastes, style preferences and product choices of your “traditional” American consumer might be impacted… as a result of what they’ve learned from the new neighbors down the street?

Get ready. Because “serving the global community” means more than responding to the preference of recent immigrants. It means recognizing changes which have occurred within “traditional consumers” as a result of having met some very interesting and worldly new friends!

Mike Anderson