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What Are Racial Demographics?

Larry Ray Palmer
Larry Ray Palmer

Racial demographics provide a way for companies and groups to market their products or messages to particular racial or ethnic groups. In the simplest terms, racial demographics refers to the division of population statistical information based on race. This information may be gathered through sponsored polling or through government census-taking efforts.

The use of demographic statistics, including racial demographics and age demographics by locations, is widely used by businesses and groups to target specific audiences. Once a target audience for a particular product, service, or agenda is decided, the use of business demographic analysis and target marketing techniques ensures that the specific demographic group will be reached by the sponsor’s message. Population demographics showing a strong bias towards specific racial predominance are often used to target political campaigns or race-sensitive agendas.

Racial identities in the US are complex.
Racial identities in the US are complex.

Due to the nature of racial demographics and the possibility of misuse, this form of demographic targeting is a controversial one. In many cases, polling forms make the option of offering racial background information voluntary to soothe fears that the information could be mishandled. With race and ethnic prejudice being underlying causes of many issues throughout history, it is understandable that individuals might be wary of releasing information regarding their own racial identities.

In some cases, racial demographic statistics have been misused to enable hate crimes or other criminal acts. This statistical information has also been employed in questionable areas of law enforcement under terms such as racial profiling. When used for these purposes, the racial demographic data is employed to stimulate prejudice against a certain race, usually a racial minority.

On the other side of the issue, racial demographics have also been used to assist minority populations. Many governments offer special programs to minority citizens. With racial demographics gathered during census taking, these governments are able to funnel funds directly to the areas where the assistance will do the most good.

Many cases exist in which racial demographics are used to benefit a certain segment of the population. For example, if an illness or risky behavior is more likely to occur among members of a specific racial group, targeted marketing campaigns can be used to disseminate life-saving information in areas where members of that group are most likely to be found. By targeting the information directly to the group of people most at risk, more lives can be saved without spending excess funding saturating a whole population with warnings that do not apply to the majority of individuals.

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    • Racial identities in the US are complex.
      By: kmiragaya
      Racial identities in the US are complex.