NEW YORK: Consumer groups that are typically regarded as "minorities" by marketers will grow to become the majority of the US population over the next three decades.

At the ARF's Audience Measurement Conference - covered in more detail here - Dr Robert Groves, director of the US Census Bureau, argued several seismic shifts are now underway in the country.

"Between 2010 and 2050, the US population is projected to grow from 310 million to 439 million – an increase of 42%," he said. "And one in five US residents will be aged 65 or older in 2030."

Moreover, Groves suggested that by 2042, groups that are generally categorised as "minorities" – like Hispanics, Asians and African Americans – will make up the largest number of people living in the US.

As a forerunner of this trend, the 2010 Census is aiming to reach 309 million individuals in six different languages, in the form of English, simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

While this is expected to cover 97.8% of potential contributors, a further 59 "language assistance guides" will help respondents speaking Punjabi Romanian, Tigrinya and a range of other languages.

Even then, its overall penetration will come in at 99.7%, and in a bid to engage the remaining possible participants the Bureau will look everywhere from grassroots organisations to multinational corporations.

In just one example of the future challenges that will face researchers, an attempt by the Bureau to provide bi-lingual surveys has resulted in highly specific difficulties.

"Some people start filling out the Spanish column, move to the English, and switch back to the Spanish," said Groves.

The marketing campaign for the Census started in January, the first stage of a $350m (€284m; £234m) effort that is unique in its goal of impacting "absolutely everyone."

A variety of traditional and digital channels have been employed in the media mix, encompassing everything from small "densely" read community newspapers to targeted outdoor ads.

"We find media outlets where people cluster," said Groves.

Real-time monitoring and management will form part of the on-going assessment programme as the Bureau seeks to deal with data collection problems as they arise.

Groves reported that daily online tracking surveys "have given us evidence of the things we're doing right – moving awareness and intent to return, for instance."

"The Bureau's outreach to ethnic and minority groups as well as younger audiences has been particularly successful," he added.

"We can't prove that the advertising alone has driven the awareness, but the movement has been pleasant."

Despite the contrasting backgrounds of the consumers featured in the Census, other factors may play a more decisive role in segmenting the population, according to Groves.

"Socio-economic conditions are our greatest differentiators," he said.

For more detailed coverage of ARF's Audience Measurement Conference, written by Geoffrey Precourt, Warc's US editor, click here.

Data sourced from Warc