Bravo Group’s Guilherme Ambros on Hispanic Marketing Strategy
When zeroing in on distinct marketplace segments, it pays to do your research. Within each segment there are data layers that provide the key to more effective targeting. Taking care to understand how to effectively speak to these segments within a segment can boost your ROI significantly, according to Guilherme Ambros, digital solutions director of the New York-based Hispanic marketing agency, Bravo Group. Here, Ambros discusses studying your target market, choosing a channel, creating effective messages and how to choose a language for your offer when marketing to Hispanics.
Target Marketing: How can marketers layer data to create more segmented and effective lists based on geography and life stage?
Guilherme Ambros: Most marketers used to see Hispanics as just one single homogeneous segment, but this is far from reality. Hispanics are a fusion of multiple cultures and different nationalities, all sharing common roots and values. Before developing any Hispanic-focused activity you should study your target: Are you targeting to first generation Hispanics (what we call Recent Arrivals)? Or maybe those that [have been] here for more time (as we call Dual Dwellers)? Or maybe those that came years ago at [a] young age, or were born here? All this will change dramatically the way you’re talking with them, the selection of channels and vendors, the right offer, the best partnerships.
Geography certainly plays an important role as there are specific cities and neighborhoods with [a] high concentration of Hispanics, and this could be imported into your model.
TM: Has e-mail or direct mail proven to be the most effective channel to reach the Hispanic market, or would you say they are of equal importance and efficacy?
GA: Both e-mail marketing and direct mail are relevant and effective channels to reach this audience. Customers that started a dialogue with your brand through e-mail are more likely to receive e-mail, while postal mail may be more effective for those Hispanics without access or unresponsive to communications online.
It’s worth mentioning that [the] Internet is rapidly becoming one of the best channels for reaching Hispanics. Several years ago, the number of Hispanics with access at home was significantly lower than the national average, but this is changing fast and Internet penetration has been growing around 20 percent year-over-year (several times higher than non-Hispanics), which means they’re catching up fast. And I’m not including those accessing the Web/e-mail through cell phones—and it’s well known that U.S. Hispanics largely over-index in mobile usage and data services. This makes online direct channels an attractive way of reaching Hispanics.
But the biggest challenge is not how to reach Hispanics, but what you’ll say to them. To break the clutter, your message should be culturally relevant, and this goes beyond just using Spanish and a few photos of Latinos. Being culturally relevant means you understand the essence of Hispanics and can adapt your message and product/offer accordingly. For example, if you [are] developing an online newsletter with different recipes using your products, you should think which ingredients and types of food are relevant to Hispanics. Probably instead of recipes with blueberry and pumpkin, you’ll use strawberry and pineapple.
Also, don’t settle with just direct mail and e-mail. Search and display media using behavioral targeting are also attractive options.
TM: What are two tips for crafting offers for this market?
GA: Hispanics are normally price sensitive (but so is everybody these days, with gas at almost $5 [a gallon]!). Also, [a] credit offer is usually a good proposition, together with [a] warranty.
The need for cultural relevance also applies here; offers should be customized according to Hispanic culture.
TM: How can marketers find a balance between using English- and Spanish-language offers?
GA: Language preference is related to life stage and personal preferences. Recent Arrivals may feel more comfortable with Spanish, while second or third generations may use English at work or school and Spanish at home. But just because a person has a Latino name and lives in ZIP code with [a] high concentration of Hispanics, don’t assume you’ll be better off bombarding him/her with communications in Spanish.
The best option is always let the customer decide. When in doubt, go bilingual.
TM: What should marketers consider when identifying Hispanics on their customer and prospecting files?
GA: Before you hire a database vendor with magic algorithms to identify Hispanics on your list, think about what you’ll do with this information. Are you going to use it just for analytics purposes (to identify Hispanics’ behavior) or [will] you change your communication efforts based on this? If you will communicate with these customers in a different way, then there are three pitfalls to avoid:
1. Avoid the language trap. Let the customer decide what language he/she feels more comfortable using. If you didn’t have the opportunity to ask before (when targeting prospects, for example), use both.
2. Avoid the typical stereotype. Bring in a strong Hispanic agency or professional to support your creative process. There’s nothing more culturally offensive than someone pretending to understand your heritage and roots just to sell their products. Be genuine or don’t even start.
3. Think holistically. Segmenting your database and identifying Hispanics is the first step, but before you send your first piece of [direct mail] or e-mail marketing, make sure your entire company is prepared to support this audience. If your Web site is not ready and your call center doesn’t have any Spanish[-speaking] reps, then you still have homework to do.