Hispanic market strategies must be mainstream

Romeo Santos for 7UP.
Romeo Santos for 7UP.

Best of 2014: The Hispanic market conversation must happen as part of the development of overall business strategies

I often kid my general-market colleagues about how much tougher it is to be a business lead in the "Hispanic" space.  Not only do we have to provide a strong case for how to best reach Hispanic consumers, but we have to first convince brands of why they should be doing so. What seems like a no brainer to us still stumps many marketers in the U.S.   

We’ve all seen the staggering numbers on growth. Hispanics are singlehandedly responsible for increasing the 18-34 population by 66 percent and the teen population by 95 percent, according to figures from Geoscape.  It is surprising, then, that we continue to see Hispanics as a detached subset of the total population — a minority. The reality is we represent the majority of the growth and future success of most U.S. brands. 

That said, it is not just about the numbers.  It is also about our lifetime value and our far reaching influence into the main stream. Hispanics are high-value consumers. We are younger, upwardly mobile, digitally savvy and socially connected. We have swayed elections, darkened the palette of make-up lines, spiced-up food offerings and diversified music choices.   

The even more important news for marketers is that, beyond influence, we are driving trends and therefore should be part of a primary focus in brand innovation.

These factors are why the Hispanic market conversation needs to happen as part of the development of the overall business strategy.  A well-designed strategy will take commitment, energy and fortitude to execute, but it will undoubtedly deliver substantial results. Success will be dependent on a company’s ability to develop a Hispanic business model that can deliver over the long-term. It should be championed and led by brand leaders across the organization, starting with the C-suite. Relegating the Hispanic market initiative to well-intentioned second-string players frequently leads to much less successful, often mismanaged strategies that fail to build traction and tend to deliver disappointing results. 

Cutting corners at the executional level is a sure way to derail a business growth strategy critical to the future health of a brand. Developing Hispanic marketing communication programs that culturally connect with consumers is a must. This will require customized programs that address nuances within more universal consumption habits, content preferences and values.  

The biggest trap to stay away from may be to assume that the bilingual/bicultural Hispanic will be equally influenced by the same message that is being used to impact general market consumers.  This is a critical fallacy in the approach to both the business opportunity and marketing communication.  

Brand health and consumptions measures across numerous categories have been proven to suffer from this approach. Simply understating a message isn’t enough to drive change in perception or behavior. It definitely should not be the standard by which effectiveness of Hispanic communications is measured. 

The success of companies in the U.S. is heavily reliant on the relationship they develop with Hispanics.  We represent a tremendous business growth opportunity, and we are helping to shape the future of brands. As such, we should be at the center of the overall business strategy. In the end, there needs to be a genuine willingness to embrace this consumer and the passion to make it happen. 

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