Culture: More Than a Language
One of the most prominent topics in direct marketing today is ensuring that messaging to customers and prospects is relevant. As it relates to Hispanic marketing, cultural relevance has been trumpeted as the key to opening the door to this consumer group and keeping it open for effective customer retention.
To get a better handle on what cultural relevance means to direct marketers, Target Marketing spoke with Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of multicultural marketing insights at Yankelovich Inc., a consumer research firm in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Target Marketing: What information can help marketers ensure their communication with Hispanic audiences is culturally relevant?
Sonya Suarez-Hammond: Culturally appropriate marketing is probably the single most important goal they need to achieve to effectively, if you will, influence the Hispanic consumer behavior change.
There are three dimensions of relevance ... We talk about lifestyle relevance, cultural relevance and individual/personal relevance. You need to figure out all three when you talk to the Hispanic consumer. Lifestyle relevance has more to do with the way a person lives their life and how marketing reflects the attitudes and values of them as an individual. Whereas cultural relevance is more about how someone speaks to a person as a member of a race or ethnic group. So, the complexity in Hispanic marketing is that lifestyle is often driven by culture in ethnic communities, and that’s where we bring in the third piece, which we call individual/personal relevance because that combines lifestyle needs with cultural views.
In further explaining cultural relevance, there is subjective culture versus objective cultural elements. Objective culture is more about the things that are tangible, which is what many marketers are focused on … regional foods, Spanish architecture, Latina music. And objective culture is important to get attention. You put a Latina face in a magazine or television ad, I’m going to see that it’s a Latina face, but am I really going to read the copy or get engaged with the commercial? If it’s not anything more than that, it may not be as relevant to me. The other side of the coin is the subjective culture, which is about the attitudes, values and beliefs that define a culture’s orientation to the world. To really persuade a consumer to engage with your brand and ultimately purchase your brand, you need to use subjective cultural elements.