Election Proves Need for Hispanic Marketing

This week, election night left a lot of Republican mouths agape. Somehow they didn’t see the vast majority of Latinos voting for President Obama (let alone the vast majority of African Americans and Asians). As Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly so gauchely put it, “It’s not a  ‘traditional’ America anymore.” Political implications of his statement aside, this is the businessman’s cue, if he hasn’t already, to get on the bus. The bus to understanding Latino buying habits, that is. Take a cue from some captains of industry, (who ironically probably voted for Mitt Romney), on how to court the Hispanic vote.

Time magazine Yo decido latino coverIf you’re not humble, you can’t learn,” Bob Davidson, president of Kellogg’s North America said to an audience gathered at the 14th annual ANA Multicultural Conference in Miami. Davidson sayshe went to great lengths to spend large amounts of time with Latino consumers in their world. “In their homes, in their shoes, in their stores and in their kitchens,” adding that he’s has made it mandatory for his brand managers to practice cultural immersion. Can you imagine Mitt Romney doing that?

But Davidson, like Romney, was not always so enlightened. His multicultural agency, Lapiz, says they pushed Kellog’s for years to focus on Hispanics, but they wouldn’t listen. That’s where the humility came from. The results were abysmal.
Walmart also felt humbled when, as we mentioned last week, they realized last year that their Hispanic advertising made no mention of this huge layaway campaign they were launching. How do you not advertise layaway to Hispanic consumers? It’s what happens when multicultural is relegated to an afterthought. These days, Walmart is doubling their multicultural effort and making it everyone’s job at the company, citing 100% of their growth coming from this segment.”In 2009, we’d gone from supporting nine brands to one,” Davidson said. “And 1% of our marketing budget went to Hispanic.” Competitors, meanwhile, were doing great.

It’s ironic that the party of free market capitalism is so out of touch with consumer trends. You can’t get America to buy into your brand if you are completely alienating its largest growing consumer group. Davis’ advice for fledgling Hispanic Marketers rings as a cautionary reminder of the GOP’s sad tale.

“If you’re just beginning, hurry up. Because your competitors are doing it. If you’re not there, you can’t say a year from now, we didn’t see this coming.”