Kmart Readies Asian-American Supplement

Kmart Corp. will start Tea Leaf, an Asian-language entertainment and lifestyle supplement, on March 2.

Tea Leaf will be distributed in Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean in nine California markets. Kmart will distribute 300,000 copies in eight Asian-language newspapers in Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura on March 2.

The supplement also will be distributed as a wrap to Kmart's weekly newspaper advertising circular. Kmart said Tea Leaf will reach 2 million Asian-American consumers monthly. For now the company does not plan to expand beyond California.

Tea Leaf will offer interviews, articles and products. The first issue features a cover story and interview with Julie Chen, host of the prime time series “Big Brother” and co-host of CBS's “The Early Show.”

Regular contributors include Gwendoline Yeo, actress on “General Hospital” and a former Miss Chinatown. She will author a weekly column on health and beauty specifically for Asian-American women.

Asian-Americans represent nearly 5 percent of Kmart's customers. The buying power of the Asian population in the United States is $254 billion, Kmart said, and 35 percent of the 11.9 million live in California. The annual growth rate for this population is 5.2 percent, the company said, the fastest of any group in the United States.

Tea Leaf is created and produced by Meridian Inc., Kmart's print advertising agency, and multicultural communications agency Alturas Communications. Alturas developed the editorial content and creative aspects, and Meridian handled the production.

Tea Leaf continues a multicultural strategy by Kmart, Troy, MI. The company distributed its first Spanish-language weekly ad circular in August and debuted La Vida, a Spanish-language lifestyle publication, in September. La Vida now reaches 7 million Spanish-speaking consumers monthly. In February, the company began Urban Direct, a lifestyle publication geared to African-American and urban consumers.

The Spanish-language insert and La Vida are distributed in areas with high Hispanic populations including Miami, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Urban Direct goes to nine markets including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. It reaches more than 2.7 million people monthly.

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