You Know the Hispanic Consumer, but Do You Know Your Client?

We've Separated Ourselves From the Bigger Strategic Picture

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Recently, I presented one of the general sessions at the Hispanic Retail 360 Conference. My presentation was titled "The 4C's of Hispanic Market Retailing." I listened to two and a half days of interesting market insight presentations focused on the 50 million Hispanic market size, engagement, connection and relevant Hispanic market reach.

On the last day, I looked out at the audience and asked, "Has Hispanic marketing really advanced in the past 20 years? Or, does it feel like we're in a time warp? And more importantly, are companies really seeing the growth that matters most to their leadership?"

Sure, there are many more internal Hispanic experts inside the walls of corporate America. They all have the deep consumer insights. And, they certainly have the reach vehicles and a myriad of marketing properties from which to choose. And yet, Hispanic marketing spend remains an "expendable" expense representing only 1.2% of the $325 billion spent on advertising.

Could it be that Hispanic marketing is still managed as an afterthought? Could it be that corporate America still makes minimal efforts to organize internally to define "the how" of aligning back and front end operations to capture Hispanics' contribution across their stated growth platforms? Could it be that Hispanic marketing is still driven by an industry which has an almost exclusively external marketing focus?

We talk endlessly about the Hispanic market's size, its language preferences, the deep and multi-segmented insights, the culture and the "right media spend," whatever that means. And we continue to live in a Hispanic marketing world of soccer sponsorships, celebrities, concerts and festivals, media properties, in-language and in-culture creative and a host of other above- and below-the-line investments, many of which seldom tie back to corporate growth platforms.

Let's face it; internally and externally, we aren't doing a good job of thinking and talking business first and marketing second. We complain about not being invited to sit at the "adult strategy table" to participate in the big conversations, but have yet to elevate "our talk" to the required levels -- the levels that track with industry threats and big-picture direction setting. And we aren't having the conversations about using our deep market insights to help organizations become ready to leverage company assets to their fullest potential.

As a result, we perpetuate a view of the Hispanic market as a separate endeavor and as the end in and of itself. Two problems arise from this approach. The first is the inability to attribute any portion of top- and bottom-line strategic growth to the Hispanic market. And second, we can't justify the value of our existing efforts because they are irrelevant to the focal points companies have set for growth.

We know too well the importance of being relevant, of speaking your audience's language and of connecting with our consumer. However, we ignore these principles when it comes to the boardroom and the C-Suite where these principles should matter most to us. We ignore the premise that getting into any human being's head means getting into their world in a credible and meaningful way.

If we are to advance Hispanic market strategy as an investment-worthy growth driver, we need to grow competent about the issues and solutions being addressed at the top. What we hear must become our compass. The consumer insights we speak to must be in this context. The market's relevance and value as an investment will come from our ability to position the Hispanic market as a catalyst to relevantly operationalizing corporate America's growth platforms.

We must elevate our thinking. If we expect corporate America to walk the walk, we must be prepared to talk their talk -- and to help them take more productive steps.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terry J. Soto is the author of "Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative " and president-CEO of About Marketing Solutions.
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