Five Questions With Shawn Gensch, Target's Senior-VP Marketing

Retail Giant Circulates Request for Proposal to Hispanic Agencies

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The Hispanic market is growing rapidly, and Target is taking notice. This week the marketer is expected to put out a request for proposal for a new Hispanic agency to handle multicultural work, as it seeks to further appeal to the important demographic. The retailer declined to provide additional details.

Shawn Gensch
Shawn Gensch

"We're naturally seeing a larger population of Hispanic guests," said Shawn Gensch, senior-VP marketing. "We're doing guest insight work with Hispanic guests and finding there's a love for the brand across all segments. We're excited about that ."

In recent years, the retailer has sponsored events like the Alma Awards, with its mascot Bullseye greeting celebrities on the red carpet. And earlier this month it sponsored the inaugural Festival People en Espanol, a Latino music, fashion and pop-culture event held in San Antonio. Target is also listening to guests' requests, stocking shelves with products popular in the Hispanic community, as well as tweaking advertising creative to make sure its relevant.

Here Mr. Gensch discusses how Target manages multicultural marketing and how it's addressing the needs of Hispanic consumers.

Ad Age : How has Target 's Hispanic marketing evolved?

Mr. Gensch: We're in a position where we're realizing the way our Hispanic guests are seeing advertising span Spanish language and English language, depending on where they're consuming media. So it's important there is one brand. Not two voices, two different marketing messages, really only one.

Ad Age : How is Target addressing the needs of the Hispanic consumer, from a messaging perspective and in stores?

Mr. Gensch: Last year's holiday campaign is one example. In our Spanish-language spot, we were careful to make sure the situations portrayed were relevant, the products there were relevant. So the family was gathering together and the dessert was flan, because that was relevant. In the English-language spot, it might have been cookies or a cake. In markets where we see a larger demographic of Hispanic guests, guests are wanting additional product assortment or Spanish language store navigation. So we're bringing in the right food or cleaning products that are relevant. Products like Goya or Fabuloso.

Ad Age : Do you think it's best to reach Hispanic consumers via dedicated Hispanic outlets or general-market outlets?

Mr. Gensch: I hate to sound too simple, but the brand just has to come alive and be relevant from a media perspective wherever individual guests or families are consuming entertainment and looking for information that will influence a potential sale. We look at it very holistically.

Ad Age : How do you manage your agencies? Is it Hispanic agencies doing the work or general-market agencies? (Target and Grupo Gallegos, an independent U.S. Hispanic agency Target has worked with for years, won the award for best radio advertising at the Association of National Advertisers' annual Multicultural Excellence Awards in November 2011. In one spot, a Mexican band mellifluously sings a list of sales items like "Green Giant baby carrots for $1.99." The tagline: "At Target , sales prices sound like a serenade.")

Mr. Gensch: We don't disclose the specific agencies we work with. But we work with local and national Hispanic agencies. And we have internal teams here focused on that consumer too.

Ad Age : How do you approach multicultural marketing internally?

Mr. Gensch: For the most part, we're very integrated. Using holiday as an example, the holiday team is responsible for all messaging, hitting all the guest segments. There are teams within my team focused on [multicultural], as it relates to activation, media strategy and marketing plans. We think across the entire organization, so its integrated teams in merchandising and stores too. It's not just one area.

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