PepsiCo’s Cultural Journey to Reignite Hispanic Growth

October 21, 2019

By Claudine Waite


Keynote speaker Marissa Solis, VP and general manager of the Hispanic business unit at Pepsi North America Beverages, has over 20 years of marketing management, communications, and sales experience in both the U.S. and Latin American markets. In her current role, Solis leads a cross-functional business unit responsible for doubling PepsiCo’s Beverages North America business with the U.S. Hispanic consumer. She is currently the executive sponsor for PepsiCo’s Adelante Employee Resource Group and an advisor to the PepsiCo Women of Color Alliance.

At the 2019 Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference presented by Pandora, happening Nov. 6–8 in San Diego, Calif., Solis will share details behind the creation of PepsiCo’s Hispanic Business Unit and how their efforts to become culture forward across our organization have led to a new birth in Hispanic engagement.

I had the chance to catch up with Solis to get sneak preview of her session as well as her thoughts on multicultural marketing in general.


Q. With your diverse constituency of consumers, what is the most significant challenge in engaging each segment?

In everything we do, we must ensure that when we engage, we are doing so in a way that is authentic to both the constituency we are trying to reach as well as what our brand stands for. The biggest challenge we face is ensuring the focus remains on that message. When we have a diverse constituency of consumers, the message stays the same, but the nuanced way that we convey that message to each constituency matters. Understanding and unpacking those nuances is challenging, but a challenge we embrace every day.


Q. Multicultural consumers comprise almost 40 percent of the total U.S. population, yet multicultural media investments make up only 5.2 percent of total advertising and marketing spending, according to a new study. Any thoughts on this disparity?

Our industry still has a long way to go to ensure we have a fair share of media investments targeted to our multicultural audience and that we reflect that audience in our advertising. I am, however, feeling very optimistic about the recent advancements in this area and the commitment that many members of AIMM — including PepsiCo — have made to the #SEEALL movement. We continue to progress in analytics that prove that having a culturally relevant message drives growth through short term sales lift and long-term loyalty. This progress, I am sure, will continue to drive our investments in multicultural in the future.


Q. As more of your competitors take advantage of this opportunity, what’s next for you?

Our focus has been and will continue to be to ensure our brands reflect the communities that we serve. We work to ensure this is evident in both the portfolio of products we deliver, the service we provide our retail customers, and our overall brand communications and activity.


Q. Marketers are now taking a more “culture-forward” approach, what would you say are the benefits to this shift?

Taking a culture-forward approach allows us to deliver our message in the most authentic of ways, truly engaging in the things that our audience cares about. It allows the audience to dictate where the brand should go vs the other way around and it serves to create long term bonds that are the key to building truly iconic brands.


Q. Without giving away your presentation, is there a key message you would like attendees to takeaway?

Succeeding in a culture-forward approach and building an iconic brand with multiple constituencies is more than a marketing exercise. It requires the commitment of the entire enterprise, from the CEO all the way to the front line. It is a long-term approach that requires discipline, consistency, and empathy. We are incredibly proud of the foundation that we are setting at Pepsico to be able to deliver on this approach and, while there is still much work to do, we are excited for the progress we have made and what the future holds.

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