Targeting the Hispanic Demographic in Events

At a time when many brand marketers are struggling to keep their portfolios afloat Hispanic marketing programs are flourishing. Walmart this year unveiled a new concept store Supermercado de Walmart in Houston as part of a strategy to become more relevant to Hispanic customers. The Milk Mustache Mobile Tour is traveling to 10 cities to introduce Hispanic families to the benefits of drinking low-fat or fat-free milk. And Kellogg’s began adding a touch of honey to its Corn Flakes (and noting a “toque de miel” on the cereal boxes) to appeal to Hispanic taste buds.

What’s driving the growth? While most consumers are cutting back Hispanics are spending more than other demographic groups and feeling good about it. According to research from the Geoscape Consumer Spending Dynamix 2009 Series Hispanic households spend between seven and 30 percent more at the grocery store than white households. Another study released in June by Spanish language media company Univision and conducted by Experian Simmons revealed that Hispanics are optimistic about their finances in the coming year (34 percent versus 25 percent of non-Hispanics). And their average consumer confidence rating is 11 percent higher than that of non-Hispanics and has remained constant since 2005 while non-Hispanics’ confidence has declined.

What’s more Hispanics are tech-savvy connecting twice as fast as the general market  (14 percent growth versus seven percent) and in 2008 23 million Hispanics or about 52 percent of the Hispanic population went online. They also love their cell phones (they have the highest percentage of cord cutters among all segments) and 77 percent engage in online socializing (Source: Alvaro Cabrera executive director of integration at Hispanic marketing agency Dieste).

It all adds up to a fertile opportunity for event marketers as brands as varied as 7-Up Alltel Bud Light Ford Monster Energy Drinks NAPA Auto Parts and others can attest. Here’s what these brands have learned as they tapped into America’s fastest-growing consumer demographic lessons you may be able to incorporate into your event strategies as well.

Family First
Four years ago NAPA Auto Parts signed on as a sponsor of the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol and the Mexican National Soccer Team’s U.S. tour as a way to connect with Hispanic males between the ages of 18 and 49. But the pre-game time period offered them more than its desired male demo—families and kids also were on the scene enjoying the day and giving the company much more than it bargained for.

Family First“NAPA has found that using event and experiential marketing to reach our Hispanic target consumers is really effective for building brand awareness and creating a higher level of engagement than traditional broadcast advertising ” says Mike Rearden director of sponsorships at NAPA. “And we’re reaching not just males but whole families through our activations which we view as an unexpected but welcome benefit.”

NAPA executes five game-day activations a year in markets that vary from year to year but typically where there are a lot of Mexican-Americans such as Los Angeles San Diego Chicago Dallas and Atlanta an emerging Hispanic market (PM Publicidad Atlanta handles). Outside the stadium NAPA activates Futbol Fiestas with a 6 000 square-foot footprint that encompasses a 16- by 16-foot elevated stage and two areas covered by 10- by 20-foot canopies. On stage Las Mecanicas NAPA dancers entertain the crowd along with a local radio dj as emcee soccer-related contests a prize wheel for winning NAPA-branded t-shirts hats and soccer balls and a photo booth for taking pictures with brand ambassadors. During the games the dancers go onto the field and throw t-shirts to the crowd.
In advance of the games mini activations take place at local NAPA stores with in-store promotions and autograph signing sessions with some of the players.

Get Local
A one-size-fits-all strategy just won’t cut it when it comes to reaching this varied demo. The 47 million Hispanics in the U.S. (as of July 1 2008 according to the U.S. Census Bureau) hail from 20 Spanish-speaking nations including Latin America and Spain. As Dave Rodriguez multi-cultural marketing manager at Ford puts it “The Hispanic market is very localized and targeted as it relates to specific regions of the country and it is a very connected community. A cookie cutter approach isn’t going to work.”
Ford approaches all of its multicultural marketing including Hispanic on two fronts: national and grassroots. While it connects via broad passions such as music sports or women’s issues on a national level it gives each national program a regional bent. With music for example programs in New York or Miami feature artists with a Caribbean orientation that appeal to local crowds. In the Southwest or California the feeling is more Mexican.

Get LocalEduardo Pereda senior director-multicultural marketing at Anheuser-Busch which has a  geographic marketing department that taps into local market wholesalers to execute national programs or special regional ones would agree. “You have to put your ear to the ground and listen to the consumers and what they are telling you makes a difference in their lives and then support what is important to them like the Mexican National Team or some local musicians ” he says.

This year in addition to its Mexican National Team sponsorship and game day activations Bud Light is reaching Hispanic consumers via bilingual “sales ambassadors” dressed in branded dresses or soccer uniforms with the Mexican National Team logo at local high-volume grocery stores in California Florida New York and Texas on special occasions and holidays (CMN Chicago handles).

Consider Sunday
The most successful events for Monster Energy Drink which this year signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Fiesta Broadway a 24-block street fair held in Los Angeles and the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world take place on Sunday. While the rest of the general market may be having a backyard cookout or heading to the mall Hispanic families on Sundays are packing up and heading to the fair.

“It’s a way for families to get together ” says Paul Mendoza brand manager at Monster Energy. “In this community parents are working five or six days a week and the only time they have together is Sunday. The most successful events happen on Sunday; it’s always more productive than Saturday.”

Besides Fiesta Broadway which this year took place on Sunday April 26 Monster activates at Calle Ocho the 116th Street Festival in New York City and Chicago’s Festival de La Villita where people line up for hours to receive a 16-ounce can of the energy drink and discount coupons. Inside its large black tent Latina spokesmodels sign calendars and pose for pictures with attendees. A Monster Skate Park features BMX riders and skateboard athletes doing aerials and stunts.

Add Retailtainment
A shopper marketing study released in June by Hispanic marketing agency Mercury Mambo revealed that Hispanics respond to in-store promotions that include an entertaining promotion or event: 78 percent of Hispanics purchased a featured product after having participated in both a price promotion and store event and one-third said they are participating in more promotions and events.
So last year when soft drink brand 7Up wanted to reach unacculturated Hispanic women (women who are foreign born speak primarily Spanish and identify more with their culture of origin than with U.S. culture) with a message about its new 100-percent natural lemon-lime flavors it launched a mobile tour with celebrity chef Carlos Fernandez of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Telemundo fame in five markets (Chicago Dallas Houston Los Angeles and Phoenix). A cooking contest gave Hispanic Moms the chance to win $70 000 for original recipes utilizing 7Up as a main ingredient. Autograph signings with Fernandez product sampling and a cookbook with a coupon also added to the fun (Mercury Mambo Austin handled).

“We wanted to bring out the fact that 7Up is made with 100-percent natural flavors because we know from research that this consumer wants the best for her family with natural ingredients ” says Rene Sanchez associate brand manager at 7Up. “Cooking is a big part of who they are; they make fresh tortillas fresh salsa. We wanted to connect the dots so this became relevant to them and brought their natural cooking talents to light.”

Speak English…Live Latin   
Reaching acculturated Hispanics on the other hand (those who are mostly U.S. born speak English and identify strongly with American culture) is a whole other ball of wax. According to a survey of 500 Hispanics by Jack Morton Latino most acculturated Hispanics want brands to speak to them in English but respect their Hispanic identities. While 88 percent of the participants were born in the U.S. 68 percent said they identified with their family’s country of origin; even so 49 percent said they speak only English socially and 51 percent said they speak English at home.

Alltel Wireless’s successful Mi Circulo Mi Musica campaign a series of five free concerts that since 2006 has reached 24 000 tech-savvy acculturated Hispanic youths ages 18 to 34 did just that (Jack Morton Latino handled). The program was successful on two fronts: it forged a culturally relevant connection with this group and drove foot traffic into Alltel retail locations where consumers picked up their concert tickets.

“Music is a huge passion point for this particular segment ” says Regina Woziwodzki director of marketing at Alltel. “It didn’t really matter which language we spoke as long as the music was acculturated to the target.”

That would include Mexican rock bands such as Reik Pee Wee and Ha-Ash to appeal to the musical sensitivities while text-to-screen messaging and tech lounges in which attendees could play with Alltel products appealed to their tech-savvy instincts. One concert took place last year on Nov. 11 Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) an important family holiday in El Paso TX. This year a Valentine’s Day concert in McAllen TX featured a Hispanic karaoke contest. A VIP lounge offered a mix of culturally relevant foods such as empanadas a guacamole bar and Latin desserts and drinks.

Feel the Pride!
Feel The PrideHispanics are proud of their heritage and their music an emotion that Sauza Tequila 100 Años tapped into to connect with Mexican Americans. Last summer a 100 Años de Musica tour brought photos of Mexican singers songwriters and performers from 1907 to 2007 in a 200-foot exhibit for a month each to malls and plazas in Chicago Houston and Los Angeles. This summer the tequila brand brought the exhibit to life with a tribute series of live music performances (Tributos a la Musica Mexicana) honoring Mexican performers on-premise in bars and restaurants and off-premise in supermarkets and liquor stores in those cities and Phoenix. The Mexican American band Los Rieleros Del Norte headlined large kick-off events; local artists performed at smaller venues. Local djs celebrity look-alike models and cut-outs of the photo exhibit artists added to the fun (Relay Worldwide Chicago handles).

“We’re targeting the Mexican-American community who feels proud about their roots who feels proud about Mexico and their music ” says Antonio Portillo senior brand manager at Tequila 100 Anos. “The program is a celebration that talks to the entire community. Everyone feels proud about the music.”  em

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