BY GLEN LLOPIS | FROM FORBES | MAY 14, 2012
There is a growing necessity for brand marketers to provide culturally relevant content and messaging that specifically targets US Hispanics. In fact, Nielsen’s recent study, The Hispanic Market Imperative – clearly states that Hispanics are the largest immigrant group to exhibit significant sustainability of their culture and are not disappearing into the American melting pot. Now that we have confirmed that cultural sustainability matters to US Hispanics, companies must become more educated about the Latino community not just as consumers – but more importantly, as people and the identity we represent as a diverse community. They must recognize that Hispanics buy brands that empower their cultural relevancy.
“Studies show that embracing American culture does not strip Hispanics of their heritage or render them susceptible only to mainstream marketing influences,” says Armando Azarloza, president of The Axis Agency, a leading national multicultural marketing agency that focuses on the importance of tapping cultural movements. Hispanics in America are growing tired of being the target of new marketing campaigns by brands that are not creating cultural connectivity. In fact, Latinos are more likely to turn away from brands that are only interested in selling to them, rather than empowering their cultural relevancy. Hispanics are more inclined to build trustworthy relationships with people and companies that take the time to understand who we are and what we represent morally, ethically and culturally. The Hispanic market can no longer be viewed as a short-term expense, but rather should be approached as a strategic long-term investment.
The business case for organizations/brands to invest in the Hispanic consumer should no longer be a mystery. The recent announcement by ABC News that it plans to join forces with Univision News to create a multiplatform news, lifestyle and information programming aimed at U.S. Hispanics – says it all. If that doesn’t tell you where culturally relevant content is headed – the Nielsen study revealed that if US Hispanics were a standalone country, their market buying power would be one of the top twenty economies in the world. The bottom line is that brands continue to misunderstand the Hispanic market opportunity. They are taking a traditional/mainstream approach that focuses on selling features/benefits to gender-specific audiences whose purchasing habits have been known for decades. “The business case is simple, targeting Hispanic audiences with dedicated campaigns around cultural expression multiplies the entry points and opportunities for brands to establish meaningful connections that ultimately translate into sales,” continued Azarloza. Hispanics represent a new type of consumer who is connected to their own cultural nuances that support the needs of their family, their heritage and customs. The Hispanic consumer is looking to build loyalty with brands that properly represents their voices and authentic identity; and that empowers their heritage by effectively embedding their cultural characteristics in how a brand speaks to them. Cultural relevancy is a two-way conversation. This means marketers must allow the Hispanic consumer to influence how they brand their brands. “Marketers must sustain a dialogue rather than continue the stale monologues of the past. When you invite Hispanics to engage they will adopt the brand with their own characteristics and personal value,” commented Azarloza.
“Brands need to find new ways to engage with Hispanics,” says Monica Gil, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Nielsen. “It’s time for companies to understand the behaviors that drive Latinos to connect emotionally with their brands. Until they do, they are leaving revenue and market growth opportunities on the table.” Brands must empower the value of Hispanic Heritage in their messaging and communication strategies all year round – not just once a year when it is formally celebrated, September 15th – October 15th. Brand engagement with Hispanic consumers is about being able to show that your organization believes that their purchasing power and voice matter. This means that brands must measure ROI with a longer-term objective focused on helping the Hispanic community strengthen its voice across generations. Hispanics want you to earn the right to become a member of the family. This is how you build ultimate trust with Hispanic consumers. “To open this door, brands must identify and hone in on those unique and powerful cultural insights and triggers. These ultimately will form the foundation of a compelling campaign that will foster consumer desire, loyalty and relevancy and set it apart from its competitors,” says Azarloza.
With a median age of 28 years old, the timing is ripe for organizations/brands to make a firm commitment to the Hispanic consumer. It’s time to strengthen a consumer segment whose identity in America has been weakened by brands that attempt to force Hispanic loyalty using traditional mainstream marketing tactics rather than earning it by empowering cultural relevancy. “Corporations need to start feeling comfortable about being uncomfortable,” continued Gil. “Brands need to start putting the Hispanic demographic shift conversation into action by making a commitment to understand what it all means to their brand(s). Hispanics have a hunger for consumption, but prefer brands that speak their language and embrace their cultural heritage. Brands need to take more risks by sprinkling “Latinoness” into their mainstream ads (as Volkswagen did here), concludes Gil.