This article was published in Entrepreneur Magazine
The United States is changing as a nation. Youthful diversity is becoming the counterweight of white aging consumers. This demographic and cultural shift is challenging brands in every way — from how to interact with these new consumers to efficiency and marketing. The one-size fits all approach is now outdated, and the more progressive companies are realizing that it is no longer cost-effective. Corporations have to be more strategic in their approach and develop a deep understanding of the customer base they serve.
In this market, you must create an experience if you want to generate a sale.
I personally believe that the market is shifting from a transaction focus to a brandexperiential stand point. With today’s diverse, tech-savvy and more demanding audience, you have to create an experience from the moment a consumer first interacts with your brand. That experience must keep them engaged throughout the purchase process and keep them connected afterwards.
The old-fashioned, inefficient way of thinking that I still encounter with some corporate executives is: “You come to us if you need our product or service.” You simply cannot have that mindset in this marketplace if you want to survive. Today, you need to reach out and connect with consumers within their lifestyle. You must create a memorable experience and messaging that will resonate with them. Maintain the momentum all the way from introduction to well past the purchase. Keep them engaged and you will have a loyal customer. This is crucial if you want to increase revenue, market share, and set yourself apart from your competitors.
I inteviewed Pablo Guzman, Vice-President of Sales — Hispanic Markets, at Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc. (CPG). Guzman is a passionate and well-respected Hispanic market leader with more than 20 years of experience in the industry working for CPG brands in the U.S.A.
Guzman shared with me the three strategic pillars he believes are necessary for a successful outcome of any Hispanic market initiative.
Build brand presence
This starts with the media part of the marketing campaign (digital, TV, radio, point-of-sale, etc). You must bring the message to life for the consumer. The media needs to be coordinated to have the brand present and available for the consumer to either see, sample, or buy. It means building a meaningful presence, whether it is graffiti art, a billboard, interactive digital media, or the point-of-sale on display at the store. You need to be visible and present.
Additionally, the message must be as consistent for the general market consumer as it is for the Latino consumer. It does not require a separate Spanish version campaign (not to be interpreted as saying no Spanish media), but rather trans-created to get the brand message across in a culturally relevant manner. The brand presence will come when the consumer sees the same message throughout the market.
Execute with a Latino-centric focus
The Latino consumer today is shopping in ALL channels and stores. Whether it’s ecommerce, clothing, food and beverages or something else, you need to keep the consumer’s culture in mind. Take advantage of where you know the consumer consistently shops and have the right mix in mind. Take soda, for example: The Latino culture is a big fan of citrus flavors, so you might emphasize those options. But don’t forget: Latino consumers are also evolving and will develop new preferences.
This Latino-focused approach will provide authenticity and new growth. Just look at what has happened in food: Salsa has surpassed ketchup. Tortillas are a value item in a burrito, yet they are a high-margin item
when they are called “wraps”. This is why it is also important to keep this focus when you look at general market stores like Kroger, Publix, or Walmart. Latino consumers are shopping everywhere, so if you don’t offer a good selection of Hispanic items they will go elsewhere.
Become part of the community
Build a long lasting commitment with local communities. Some people call this grass roots marketing, some call it neighborhood marketing. Guzman calls it building trust. There are many companies that rely on the Latino community for growth and are quick to take advantage of this. But, if they don’t build a long-term relationship with the culture as a whole, that growth will be short-lived.
Within the executive world, there is still a lack of understanding or denial to embrace the fact that consumers are becoming more diverse and they know exactly what they want. Technology allows them to be that way. They can determine if you are a reputable brand and if you will be able to fulfill their needs with just a simple touch of their screen and a quick scan of online reviews.
Your story behind the brand and your cultural relevancy at the time of execution are crucial. If you want to connect with the Latino community in a very powerful way, learn the right way to trigger their behaviors to engage with your brand. Do not expect that a marketing campaign alone will get the job done. There is still much work that needs to be done with consumers at the retail point. Remember, the role of advertising is to bring awareness, generate a desire of ownership, and drive traffic to your ecommerce site or store front. From there, you must act on the momentum and provide a welcoming, culturally relevant customer experience so you can retain them, gain their loyalty and turn them into an ambassador for your brand.