Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hispanic Agencies: It's time to invest

With the US Census in full swing - Hispanic media and marketing agencies are salivating at the potential boondoggle of new clients and a surge in spending from existing players. Yet, I ask myself: is the Hispanic market resting on its laurels? What innovations have been made in the past decade?

The days of saying, "trust us, we are experts," is over. The industry needs to invest in tools. Here are three that the industry desperately needs:

1) Multidimensional segmentation w/ overlay of acculturation
We need to stop treating the US Hispanic market like one big segment. We are all different - just like the general market. We need to leverage those differences and customize messages to the "right" audience. We also need to understand how acculturation impacts Hispanics interaction with different categories. What role then does language play in this mix and how can we use different channels (both Hispanic-targeted and general market placements) to reach this more qualified audience.

2) Channel-Neutral Planning Tools
If I see one more media plan with 100% TV - I'm going to shoot myself. The general market multicultural "experts" are the biggest offenders, but there are several Hispanic agencies that do the same. There is this thing called the internet and Hispanics are totally flocking to it. Crazy idea - perhaps you should include it in your next channel mix? Think about it. A channel neutral tool would help justify these investments if it is properly calibrated with actual data.

3) Culture-O-Meter
This one is related to #1. We constantly talk about the need for "cultural relevance" in order to effectively reach the US Hispanic market. But, we all know that there are cultural insights and then there are just bad stereotypes. Shy away from the latter. Cultural insights should represent how cultural heritage impacts how a person interacts with a specific category. But, all too often - we let clients bully us into a sombrero or a "upbeat" salsa rhythm. Develop a qualitative tool that demonstrates how culture impacts their business. Then leverage that nuance in communications....but spare us the sombrero unless of course you are selling sombreros.

I look forward to seeing how the industry evolves - hoping that it starts investing in its future before the general market agencies do.

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