October 28, 2014
By Glenn Llopis
Understanding the fundamentals of the Hispanic consumer identity and committing your brand narrative and the ways you create your marketing/sales strategy, design packaging and collateral materials, innovate new products/services, promote community outreach, etc. and how those strategies/tactics support those fundamentals – these are your keys to unlocking the $1.5T Hispanic market opportunity. As such, my message to brand marketers in part one of this article was this: Hispanic consumers are waiting to commit to a brand that is willing to commit to them; this means empowering their cultural identity.
Winning the Hispanic market will require a real commitment to healing the identity crisis that exists within the community – the flames of which are being constantly fanned by America’s corporations and brands as they continue to misunderstand and misrepresent the community, who they are as people, and how their cultural values influence everything from how they think and perform at work to how they decide where to shop and what to buy.
Herewith, some specific tips for brands who must learn to authentically engage with the Hispanic community and help solve for the identity crisis – if they have any hope of attracting top Hispanic talent and earning trustworthy relationships with Latino consumers.
Tip for Marketers: Learn what makes Hispanics feel strong – and make them feel stronger.
I’ve always said that “Hispanics love hot dogs too.” In order words, Hispanics are just like any other consumer group, and their cultural makeup heavily influences their identity and the unique ways they engage with brand platforms. So if you don’t know who Hispanics really are as people and if you are not committed to authentically engage with them – you’re just wasting your time and budgets guessing.
“Ideally, messaging should be driven less by language or acculturation level-specific considerations and more by a desire to connect with those emotional, cultural or experiential needs that Hispanic consumers find most important to their own personal lives,” advises Armando Azarloza, President of the Axis Agency. “You must develop one Hispanic-oriented message that is synergistic with the overall brand message based on sound compelling insights with an eye towards cultural cues that are relevant in order to make an emotional and cultural connection.”
Tip for Marketers: Begin the journey of capturing the Hispanic market only when you are ready to make a real commitment to convert skepticism to possibilities.
Hispanics have grown tired of brands trying to sell them. This is why it will take at least a year for your brand to re-educate them about your product features and how they authentically support their values and benefit their unique needs (“their identity”). If done properly, Hispanic consumers will begin to believe that you have indeed made the decision to pay attention to who they really are as people and have started the journey of investing in a meaningful/purposeful relationship with them. Remember this is just phase 1 and most brands won’t survive this phase. Will you?
Tip for Marketers: Stop mimicking everyone else’s Hispanic strategy and create your own.
What may work for other brands may not work for your brand. Stop mimicking what everyone else is doing and focus on creating the most authentic approach that best aligns your brand’s identity – your organization’s strengths, leadership philosophy and unique product/service offerings – with the Hispanic consumer identity.
Hispanics will connect the dots and bring a healthy skepticism that digs deeper into a brand’s real intentions. If a brand is not consistent and genuine, it will be a relationship that is short-lived. A one size approach doesn’t fit all brands and their respective products and services, features and benefits. Trust me, my organization has launched quite a few ventures targeting Hispanics and it took years and collectively millions of dollars to finally figure out the secret sauce.
Tip for Marketers: Empower Hispanic consumers in ways that give rise to their cultural values and consistently position your brand in support of those values.
It’s worth repeating: Hispanic cultural values influence what they expect from brands, not only in support of their identity but in how brands will help strengthen and advance their identity. If you don’t believe me, just ask Mitt Romney who could have easily won the 2012 Presidential election for the Republican Party if he would have simply made the following statement – and should say if he’s planning another run in 2016 (this type of Hispanic outreach applies to any candidate running for elected office, for that matter):
Please forgive my ignorance about my 47% comments. I was wrong. In fact, I’ve been ignorant about my attempts to earn the trust of Hispanic voters for much too long. I apologize for my shortsightedness in overplaying my hand to win your vote by telling you about how my dad was born in Mexico and how my son Craig speaks fluent Spanish. I learned the hard way that the Hispanic vote is earned and not for sale based on the manner in which I unknowingly created distrust with your community and from the negative feedback of my television and radio campaign ads that were simply translations of my English-language campaigns. I would now like to right the wrongs.
Please accept my apology as I would like to start anew. The truth is that I know very little about Hispanics in America – especially what it takes to earn a relationship with your diverse, vibrant, entrepreneurial communities across America. While I am aware that there are certain cultural nuisances amongst the highly diverse population of Latinos in America, I also know there is much, much more to learn about your community. If I’d just known better to realize that your cultural values represent the immigrant perspective that shaped and guided the principles of America’s founding fathers. Unfortunately, I was convinced by the media and those in government that I should believe that your stereotypes and misrepresentations depicted the real you. I’ve learned the hard way that all the while Latinos in the United States represent the exact opposite.
My biggest discovery is that while Hispanics may speak English and/or Spanish – you all (regardless of your mother-country) communicate in-culture. In fact, I’ve come to learn that your culture is synonymous with your identity. No wonder I’ve insulted you for such a long time – as I’ve been one of many that continue to fuel your identity crisis – at a time when America needs your passionate pursuits, ingenuity, generous purpose, cultural promise and strong sense of family and most importantly your “roll up your sleeves and get the job done” attitude. I value who Hispanics are and what your values represent more than ever before.
I have so much more to admit and will never ignore your value or misrepresent your identity again. Actions are stronger than words – and it’s time for me to act in ways that brings us together – where I can give your diversity of thought and unique points of view a platform to be discovered by the rest of America as Hispanics represent an invaluable source of wealth and opportunity through its talent (fastest growing workforce), business owners ($465B annual revenue) and consumers ($1.5T in estimated 2015 purchasing power) to fuel economic growth and global competitiveness. With your permission, we can begin to mend our relationship centered on collaboration, mutual respect and trust to rebuild the American Dream as Hispanics will soon represent 30% of America (by 2050). Give me the opportunity to lead with you and together with the rest of America rebuild our country’s foundational values to enable growth, prosperity and hope for a better future.
This is the type of message that executives, marketers and brands alike (without exception) should be brave enough to say and courageous enough to act upon. It’s time for America’s corporations to admit the wrongs, to heal the identity crisis, and to authentically rebuild the opportunity based on mutual trust and respect. Only then can we all deliver the unique value that will propel growth and innovation across industries.
Tip to Marketers: Rethink your approach to the Hispanic market by authentically engaging with a Hispanic consumer base that is forgiving, but not forgetful.
Hispanic consumers can teach the general market brands a lot about how to create authentic engagement strategies and what is required to strengthen a community’s identity. The following article is a sneak peak at just some of these strategies that were all influenced through the lens of a Hispanic consumer marketer and cultural intelligence expert: 6 Brand Strategies Most CMOs Fail To Execute
Luis Garcia, President & Lead Strategist of Market Vision, sums it up nicely for us: “It is not only a question about how to win with Hispanics, it is about winning in the market as a whole. This requires a fundamentally different approach – one that embraces the fact that Hispanics are leading growth trends and over-indexing in just about everything from technology adoption to weekly grocery spending. And one that embraces Hispanics as the origin for the next big thing and not the afterthought for yesterday’s idea or way of working. Companies who get this right will own the brands that our great-grandchildren will be buying.”