Nowadays, in France a debate on the implementation of ethnic statistics in order to appreciate the structure of the French population has been recently impulsed by the president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Indeed, for having a reliable tool which can be used to identify and count the different “visible communities” in its country, the French government is intending to modify the current legislation about collects of personal data. It initiates these legal procedures to be able to measure and judge racial discriminations that occur in several areas (employment, scholarship…). However, even if these steps are as goal a fall in ethnic discriminations, they keep highly controversial. Its opponents claim the French constitutional principles that want Republic to be indivisible.
This debate overall underlines the lack of an “ethno-racial” national referential. Nevertheless, individuals’ origins were progressively introduced into statistics.
- 1851: the first census including questions about nationality was realized (native French, naturalized French and foreign). (Courrier des statistiques n° 117-119, 2006, p 34)
- 1962: This census was completed by asking the origin nationality of the naturalized French.
- 1993: The Great Integration Council developed surveys about the ethnic structure of the French population for specifics purpose.
Now, only one major law – Information and freedom law of the sixth August 2004 – breaks the access to ethnic data. It stipulates that personal data which precise, directly or indirectly, racial or ethnic origins, political views, philosophical and religious ones are prohibited. (www.juriscom.net)
But some surveys highlighting ethnic origins can be conducted, on one condition; they must respect an individual agreement.
Both French debates on ethnic statistics and racial discriminations raise the issue of how important the minorities’ demographical and economical weight is. Indeed, more and more firms and marketing agencies have started to target ethnic market for few years.
According to the INSEE – the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies – and the INED – a French research institute specialized in demography and population studies –, ethnic minorities and immigrants in France are the same. Their number is around 4.3 millions people, that is to say 6.7% of the 2002’s French population (see Annexe 3).
But the ethnic minority notion is wider: as it was said before, the real statistics about such a sensitive issue are not clearly defined and collected by any French official institute. Indeed, Jean-Paul Tréguer and Jean-Marc Segati (Les nouveaux marketings, Dunod 2003) estimate ethnic communities’ population between roughly 12 and 14 millions people, more than 20% of the French population.
Moreover, SOPI – a marketing agency focused on ethnic marketing – conducted a consumer survey in 2004 that included ethnic data under control of several national and independent associations. (http://www.sopi.fr)
It concludes distinguishing six ethnic groups:
- Caribbean from France (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion Island…)
- Black Africans (Senegal, Mali, Cameroon…)
- Maghreb-Arabians (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia…)
- Indopakistanis (Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan…)
- East-Asians (China, Vietnam, Cambodia…)
- And other minorities (Anglo-Saxon, Latin American, Italian, Spanish…)
The weight of the visible minorities in the French population is enough important to arouse firms and marketing agencies' interests. Indeed, this part of the French population can be considered as a niche with its own and specific needs. Problems of discrimination and under representativeness highlighted ethnic communities can be perceived as a potential and profitable outlet. Taking progressively these markets into consideration, marketers have implemented a new kind of segmentation based on ethnic origins. Targeting depends on the ethnic background of every community. Each ethnic group, with its own values, beliefs and needs, forms an aggregated market.
French ethnic marketing is so in direct connection with the current French debate about the consideration of ethnic data in...