Glatt Kosher Subways and Car Insurance for Dogs?

And You Can't Do What for Hispanics?

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Rochelle Newman-Carrasco Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
I own a Labrador Retriever. Or should I say, I'm the guardian of a Labrador Retriever. In West Hollywood, where I reside, that's the legal terminology. Pet guardian. So it only made sense that a new ad for Progressive Insurance featuring a brown Lab would catch my attention. I not only drive with my dog in the car, but I have had that dog fly out of my back window and miraculously survive with little more than road burn.

I was raised kosher. I didn't remain kosher, but I'm certainly aware of the expanding number of food choices available to the kosher community. Recently, I noticed the opening of a new Glatt Kosher Subway on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. The "Subway. Eat Fresh" slogan was adapted to read "Subway. Eat Kosher." The company's website positions this specialized QSR (or should I say JewSR) as follows:

"With slight modifications, such as no pork-based products such as bacon or ham and the use of no dairy products, the menu is virtually identical to that of any other Subway restaurant. Subway offers a variety of options that tie in well with the desire to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. It will be great for health conscious fitness enthusiasts and families who are kosher."

Now granted, about 40% of the U.S. population owns a dog. But only about 2% of the U.S. population is Jewish, and fewer yet are glatt kosher. Still, marketers have found innovative and insightful ways to create products and services that are relevant to the lifestyles and tastes of these two highly valued consumer segments. In fact, you won't find a supermarket in a major U.S. city that doesn't stock a wide assortment of Kosher for Passover products, all of which require major manufacturers to adjust their packaging and undergo rabbinical scrutiny. All for 2% of the population.

So when it comes to U.S. Hispanic marketing, it has always been a mystery to me when clients say they can't make culturally relevant modifications to their product or service offerings.

Can't? Or don't want to?

I think it's important for marketers and their agencies to really distinguish between the two when "yaying" or "naying" culturally specific recommendations. Based on my own experiences and in speaking with industry peers, relevant recommendations include:
  • Bilingual signage and/or packaging
  • Addition of menu items and/or condiments that reflect a cultural connection with the Latino community in the trading area. This may include noting differences between Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, South and Central Americans and others.
  • Product or service innovations based on culturally specific values or behaviors
  • Culturally specific staff-training experiences.
All too often these valuable and creative ideas are met with a "can't do" response, and rationales that include:
  • Internal complications that would disrupt existing protocols and systems
  • Paralyzing concern over the possible reaction of non-Hispanics to all things Hispanic
  • Lack of willingness to invest in testing or appropriate research
  • A vague "We just can't do things like that" brush off.
As marketing professionals, we all know there are countless reasons that will prevent good ideas from getting green-lit. Some valid. Some not. Rejected ideas based on status quo decision-making are not the exclusive domain of the multicultural marketer. It is, however, important to note that when an idea is tied to cultural insights that may be outside of a client's personal experience, it becomes all too easy to use "can't do" as a knee-jerk response.

Don't want to do? That's worth discussing. Can't do? Tell it to my Labrador.
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