Hitting the Niche Within the Niche

Hispanic Market Is Not One Big Homogenous Culture

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Tommy Thompson Tommy Thompson
I think Tru Pettigrew brought up a good point last Monday when he wrote about the need in corporate boardrooms to define the African-American consumer and the appropriate ways to connect with them. The same rings true in defining the Hispanic consumer. What I would like to add though is the need to go deeper into this definition rather than just stopping at the statement "we need to connect with Hispanics" or "our target is Hispanic adults 18-49." The reality is that the Hispanic consumer is not a homogenous group and therefore these types of broad statements won't work for most brands in today's changing environment. In order to effectively connect with today's Hispanic consumer, we must understand that there are sub-segments united by common interests that make the whole. Let's say there are niches within the niche.

Due to the nature of my job, I am on the road more than I would like. But due to these travels, I have experienced and am able to decipher so many different sub-groups of Hispanics. There are now more than 45 million Hispanics in the U.S., and when there is a group that big, there are bound to be differences in views, habits, likes, dislikes, etc. The difference goes far beyond referring to the target being of Caribbean vs. Mexican descent. The difference even goes deeper than acculturation levels, which, while important, are just a first step in the process of helping define what consumer is a brand's core target and opportunity for growth.

There are considerable differences in creating profiles for various Hispanic consumers. There are in many ways vast differences between the consumer of Mexican decent in San Antonio vs. one in Sacramento vs. one in Dallas or one in New York (yes, there are Mexicans in New York). Most importantly, there are differences in the strategies and tactics that a brand should use to reach them and engage them. The reality is there are many factors that our Hispanic consumers are exposed to that shape who they are, what they like, what sports they play or watch, what they consider entertainment, what brands they buy and the list goes on, but you get the point.

When it comes to identifying a brand's target audience, most marketers are good at following a process of analyzing their general-market customer base. They can even slice and dice general-market segments into well-defined sub-groups. Yet when it comes to defining their multicultural targets, everything is lumped together under broad umbrellas of Hispanic, African American and Asian American. There should be more diligence within the industry as a whole to give our brand partners a sophisticated look at who their Hispanic customer base is, where the opportunity lies and what are the initiatives that will be most relevant to the customer and what will motivate them to action.

Gone are the days of one size fits all. The Hispanic consumer segment has evolved and will continue to do so. We need to elevate the conversation we have with our brand partners regarding who their target is and ensure that they continue to capture this segment today and tomorrow.

Our job as marketers is to find the common thread that unites as many consumers as possible so that we can be effective and efficient with our client's dollars. But I would argue that if we beef up the communication effort with relevant, targeted efforts that are custom-made for the niches that exist within the niche, then we create an unbeatable one-two punch that delivers stronger brand affinity and, more importantly, increased sales.

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Tommy Thompson is president of Inspire, Dallas. Read more on our bio page.
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