October 23, 2014
By Dave Morgan
Next week is the Advertising Research Foundation’s Industry Leader Forum. This year’s forum is titled “Multicultural and Millennial Mandate.” I’m a member of the planning committee for the Forum, and in one of our early sessions, a member made a comment that continues to stick with me. Which was: Lots of folks talk about the importance of multicultural marketing in the U.S., but you don’t hear many of them talk (or implement) Hispanic-first marketing or media strategies, despite the enormous growth and importance of Hispanics as the critical growth market for so many U.S. consumer brands.
Ironically, almost every day, we hear many of these same brands declare themselves to be social-first or mobile-first. How come?
First and foremost, talking social and mobile is sexy, and doing something about it is relatively easy. No one is going to be fired for pushing a mobile- or social-first strategy, and it’s not that hard to get your agency or some consultants to take some steps in that direction for you.
Still, there’s more behind it than that. Putting Hispanic consumers at the middle of a company’s marketing strategy requires enormous change at the core for most companies, and can be incredibly disruptive. Here are some of my thoughts on why we don’t see it very much:
Protecting the “general market” bundle. If you make Hispanic marketing central, you need to break up the general market bundle. That forces companies to reevaluate everything they do. It’s much easier to operate on an assumption that Hispanic populations are all “acculturating” and are (or will) be consuming the same media as the general market, so there’s no need to treat them separately.
Many brands are isolated from Hispanic populations. Many of the great consumer marketing brands in the U.S. are in places where there are few Hispanics. Their executives -- and executives’ families -- don’t see and interact with many Hispanics on a daily basis. Many are insulated from them.
Few Hispanic leaders in key industry roles. The media and marketing industry is fortunate to have some great Hispanic leaders, but we don’t have very many -- far, far below Hispanic’s relative share of the marketplace.
It takes more than just Spanish language media to build a Hispanic strategy. Univision and Telemundo are critical places for brands to start when executing Hispanic marketing strategies, but being Hispanic-first means finding and communicating uniquely with Hispanics everywhere they are, not just where existing Spanish media is (and yes, there are media other than soccer that attracts Hispanics in high concentration). They use social tools like Twitter and WhatsApp at higher rates than white Americans.
Most Hispanics don’t fit our old stereotypes. I am not a typical target for Hispanic marketing. I am a white, middle-aged male and was born in a small coal town in western Pennsylvania. But I am part of a Hispanic household. My wife is Mexican; our daughters are both Mexican and American. Spanish is the first language of our home. My wife and daughters spend two to three months a year in Mexico. Being Hispanic is a critical important driver for almost everything we buy, from food to clothes to travel to financial services. For Hispanic-first marketers, we are a great target.
What do you think? Will Hispanic-first marketing ever become as sexy as being social-first or mobile-first?