Connect with a Concentrated but Powerful Female Segment
Concentrated, but powerful, Middle Easterners are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in America. The size of the overall immigrant population (legal and illegal) has tripled since 1970 and the number of immigrants from the Middle East has grown more than seven-fold, from less than 200,000 in 1970 to nearly 1.5 million in 2000. An additional 1.1. million new immigrants from the Middle East are projected to settle in the U.S. by 2010.
Middle Easterners are Not a Monolithic Group
According to the U.S. Census, Middle Easterners include persons of Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Moroccan or Iraqui ancestry. The largest of these are persons of Lebanese heritage (29%), followed by Egyptian (15%) and Syrian (9%) heritage. Men represent a higher percentage of the Middle Eastern population at 57% (compared to 49% in the total U.S. population) and more Middle Easterners are married (61% compared to 54% in the total population), reinforcing the importance of the family unit.
Seventy percent of Middle Easterners speak a language other than English at home, compared to 18% of the total population. However, of those who speak a non-English language at home, 65% also speak English “very well”, underscoring the bi-lingual opportunities in reaching consumers of this heritage.
Geographically, California has the highest Middle Eastern population of any state, with more than 400,000. Of states with the most Middle Eastern immigrants, Virginia has the fastest growing population, followed by Michigan, New York and Texas. The median wage for this group was $39,000 in 2000, slightly more than the $38,000 figure cited for Americans as a whole. The immigrant group has a high rate of citizenship, with 55 percent holding American citizenship, compared to 38 percent of immigrants overall.
Middle Easterners are as diverse as the national origins that shape their heritage in the U.S., and religious affiliation is among the characteristics that define the culture. Approximately two-thirds have Orthodox and Eastern Rite Church (Greek Catholic, Maronite, Coptic) affiliations and the remaining are Muslim. The preservation of culture among Middle Eastern Islamic women is most evident in the importance placed on modesty, the wearing of the hajib (headcover), the five-times-daily prayers, and the month-long fast of Ramadan. These cultural values, and others, should be recognized in marketing plans aimed at appealing to this growing customer segment.
Tap a Growing Talent Force
Middle Eastern immigrants are an educated immigrant group, making them highly attractive to the labor force. In 2000, 49 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to just 28 percent of Americans. However, men of Middle Eastern ancestry are more likely and women of Middle Eastern ancestry are less likely to be in the labor force than their counterparts in the total population.