101: Engaging Hispanic Consumers
April 6, 2010
1. The Lowdown
2009 is proving to be a challenging year for marketers. Most have taken a hard look at investments and made decisions to be conservative on budget. These measures are often required to navigate the economic climate of today; strategic focus should remain a priority for any marketing decisions.
While the economy has affected every consumer segment, the opportunity to smartly target remains. One area that is still open to many brands is reaching Hispanic consumers-the fastest- growing demographic in the U.S. in terms of size, influence, and reach.
2. Why Do I Need to Know About It?
Demographic trends and industry data clearly demonstrate that marketing to U.S. Hispanics and multicultural audiences is one area of opportunity that remains open to growth. Now is the right time to introduce your brand to them, if you have not already done so, and evolve your programs if you are already marketing to them and their interests.
With the Census 2010 around the corner, we are soon to see many marketers take a sharp interest in the demographic and turn to strategies to captivate this audience. However, 2010 is too far in the future, and if you wait, your brand will compete in a cluttered space. Plus, Hispanic consumers are savvy and value when brands are invested in them. Brands that shy away from reaching the segment due to economic restrictions may have to invest larger dollars in the future to attract consumers that are already being pursued by many competitors and top names.
3. What do I need to do?
For some, the following recommendations may be obvious since there are brands that recognize the value of this segment. If your Hispanic strategy is still in development, following these suggestions will help strengthen their impact and deliver more bang for your marketing spend.
The key to begin is developing short-, mid-, and long-term strategies.
- Be online now: With
more than 19 million Hispanics online (almost the size of the online audience
in Spain), it is difficult to name a brand that should not be online. Don't
have a Spanish Web site yet? You don't need it. You can develop a tactical
micro-site and even partner with the major online networks to develop one. You
don't believe that Hispanics buy online? Well, they do, but especially they
look for information about products and services. So you can generate traffic
to a store, generate a database for a sale follow up, or create a sweepstakes
to encourage product trial. Be sure communications and language are inviting
and make sense; deliver content that is relevant. Learn the space. Your Spanish
site will get traffic if the content is good; if not, your competition widens
and many may even navigate off to English-language sites.
- Thought about direct response? Television is still the main
media for Hispanics, but do you know your ROI? Are you only interested in
building brand awareness through mass media? So why not do both? Many brands on
television should clearly have a direct response strategy but instead are just
spending their dollars to build awareness. Direct response television campaigns
can generate strong results (calls, visits to Web sites, leads, sales) and help
increase brand awareness when they incorporate the right consumer insights in
the messaging and don't focus just on product features and offers. Brands tend
to just focus on the consumer when they think of the big picture (branding) and
think that the offer or prize is what will drive people to call. If you can
continue to think that, your competitors will be delighted.
- Trust the power of word of mouth: Engage others in speaking about your brand: consumers, employees, media, opinion leaders. It is not only about using word-of-mouth strategies (which, due to cultural behaviors, are even more powerful among Hispanics) but also about creating something unique and relevant that people want to share about you. Give them an experience, a reason, a why, a connection, and watch your brand value soar.
- Research to redefine your target. As the new census approaches, now is the time
to redefine how you target your consumer. Are you still using linear
acculturation criteria to segment U.S. Hispanics? Do you still use language as
the main criteria for your communication strategy? If so, your strategy is way
off. Language, media consumption, and time in the country will not reveal how
consumers in the segment live, think, dream, etc. U.S. Hispanics are living a
multidimensional existence; they want to be treated as individuals first and
want to engage with brands that understand their reality. In addition, they
know that they are Hispanics; you do not need to remind them of that on the
- Reassess your value proposition. In today's climate, what felt like a necessity a few months ago probably is a luxury now, and things that you rarely thought of might become a necessity. Economic crises force us to redefine our lifestyle priorities and therefore the role of brands and products. Consumers are rethinking how important your brand is to them. Are you evaluating these changes and staying ahead of the curve?
- Don't become stagnant: Hispanic consumers are in fast
evolution, dynamic on the acculturation cycles and fast at adopting new
products, technology, and ideas. Therefore, your brand should stay attuned to
their needs to continuously be relevant. Think about how you would evolve a
relationship with any consumer group and invest in keeping on top of trends
that will help you stand out and retain the attention of the segment.
- Build and grow: Committing to the segment is the best long-term strategy you can follow. While a shot of activity may make numbers jump during a specific period or lift a product, relationships will help you sustain your place in categories and truly establish your brand as a trusted one in the Hispanic household.
4. The Thing to Remember Is...
Any effort focused on helping your brand connect with Hispanics is an investment that can generate consumer support from a universe of more than 40 million people-and counting. Be smart about your approach, consult with professionals who know the segment and its subtleties, and don't make decisions in a vacuum. Your brand values should translate and this requires a strategy, otherwise you may not see the ROI and other brands will minimize the impact of your efforts.
"101: Engaging Hispanic Consumers." dieste.