Marketing to Hispanics takes center stage

Business Monday
Monday, 06.06.11

Big brands are using hipper, more sophisticated campaigns with Latin celebrities and parties to help connect with consumers.

Studying the market

Miami-based Telemundo Communications Group did a study last year on the most coveted segment of the Hispanic market — the 18 to 34 age group.

The study, named Gen YLA — Generation Young Latino American — found that what makes young Hispanics unique is that they live in a culturally fluid environment, navigating between Hispanic and American culture and shifting naturally between English and Spanish.

“They live in both worlds, and they are the ones who are going to define pop culture in America for this generation,” said Diana Mogollón, general manager of Telemundo’s channel aimed at young, bilingual Hispanics, mun2.

Mun2, a 10-year old channel with programming in Spanish, English and Spanglish, relaunched five years ago in anticipation of what Jacquelince Hernández, Telemundo Communications Group’s COO, calls “the big change.”

“It is said that in every decade a new generation brings forth a big change. In the next 40 years the U.S. population will expand by one hundred million people fueled primarily by U.S. Hispanics,” Hernández said.

As part of its efforts to cater to the needs of this market, mun2 is developing “dramelas” — original bilingual series that combine elements of the American dramatic series and the Hispanic telenovela. The first “dramela” — RPM Miami — debuted on May 1 and airs Sundays at 10;00 p.m.

Special to The Miami Herald

When Western Union and Johnnie Walker designed their new nationwide marketing campaigns this year they chose to put Hispanic artists and Miami venues at the center of their efforts — a move that reveals that Hispanics are becoming more relevant in U.S. marketing.

The latest U.S. Census data has captured the interest of many chief marketing officers, says Emil Morales, senior vice president and general manager for TNS, a market research company. “The trend for 2050 is that 125 million people in the U.S. will be of Hispanic origin. Growth is going to come from this segment and companies that don’t get into this market now will be late for the party.”

Marketing aimed at Hispanics is also getting more sophisticated as Hispanics become savvier consumers and companies learn more about them.

“There’s a new differentiation about how the message is being communicated. It’s less functional and more emotional,” says Morales.

Companies are using new communication channels to talk to their Hispanic customers either in English or Spanish and they are using trusted media personalities to reach the market at an emotional level.

And since the Census showed that Hispanics are disproportionately younger than other groups, this year’s campaigns are younger and hipper. Companies such as Western Union and Johnnie Walker are organizing concerts and music contests and hiring urban artists, DJs and very young media personalities to throw parties for their consumers.

Western Union teamed up with Latin Grammy winner and reggaeton king Daddy Yankee for its latest campaign “Love in a Thousand Languages/Amor en Mil Idiomas.”

The campaign’s main feature was a music contest that encouraged Western Union customers to sing or shout out their feelings for their loved ones. A song in Spanish by an aspiring songwriter and musician from Virginia was selected among almost 1,000 entries in English and Spanish. The $10,000 prize was presented by Daddy Yankee at the April 2011 Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami.

“This campaign is much hipper than last year’s because we want to position ourselves as cool and relevant and engage the consumer in a less traditional way,” said Juan Pablo Valdés, vice president of Marketing for Mexico and the U.S. for Western Union.

Yet, although acculturation is happening fast and Hispanics are becoming more sophisticated, wealthier consumers, they still have unique characteristics that are forcing companies to shift their marketing strategies to better reach them.

Hispanics have a strong sense of community and they are social animals, says Leslie Pantin, president of Pantin/Beber Silverstein PR in Miami. “They want to build relationships with companies and brands before doing business with them, especially if you are going to sell them real estate or manage their money,” he said.

Pantin designed “Arteaméricas” for investment bank Merrill Lynch. The Latin American art fair takes place every March in Miami and Merrill Lynch bankers invite their clients and prospects from all over the U.S. and Latin America to buy art and schmooze around the open bar.

“This establishes relationships and creates an atmosphere of trust,” said Pantin. Merrill Lynch also gets the chance to show Hispanics and Latin Americans that it is fluent in their culture: “The art fair closes late and offers an open bar with a full range of liquor. Hispanics party late and expect a full open bar. If there’s no Bacardi, no 12-year-old scotch, no Grey Goose, it’s not a bar.”

The fair will enter its 10th year in 2012 but it’s stronger than ever, says Jeff Ransdell, the Miami-based regional managing director for Florida and the Caribbean at Merrill Lynch. A recent influx of wealthy Latin Americans, particularly Venezuelans fleeing president Hugo Chávez’s socialist ways and Brazilians whose personal fortunes have soared along with South America’s biggest economy, has brought a lot of business to Merrill Lynch in Miami.

“We have more Latin clients, and more Latin clients who are actually settling in the U.S., and we are hiring financial advisors who have experience working with Venezuelans, Brazilians and Colombians,” he said.

Merrill’s name is another advantage for the company: Brands seem to have a strong pull with Hispanics, experts agree.

“Companies have discovered that Hispanics have a strong brand behavior and that they are increasingly willing to spend on branded goods,” said Kjell de Orr, CEO of IBOPE-Zogby International, the polling firm. “And there seems to be no ceiling in terms of price sensitivity. For the high end of the market a product can cost anything but if it’s fashionable and brand it will sell.”

IBOPE-Zogby International was born a year ago when IBOPE — the largest Brazilian polling firm with offices throughout Latin America and decades of expertise in those markets — bought U.S. Zogby. It has just expanded its office in Miami to lead its research efforts aimed at the Hispanic consumer market.

“The idea to build an office here is not coincidental. It’s strategic. We are clearly looking at the Hispanic market in the U.S. and at the influence that Hispanics are having in the U.S.,” said de Orr, who is based in Miami.

Hispanics influence is being recognized by Diageo’s Johnnie Walker. The brand decided to center its marketing efforts on this market, although Hispanics are not the biggest drinkers of Johnnie Walker in the United States.

“In terms of drinker base they are the second-largest group — after Caucasians — but in terms of loyalty they are number one,” said Dan Kleinman, brand director for Johnnie Walker.

Playing on the fact that Hispanics are younger than other groups in the country, Johnnie Walker launched a nightlife-centric campaign featuring hip Latino celebrities linked to music and club life.

The campaign started in New York with a partnership with top Latin DJ and radio personality Alex Sensation and has traveled throughout the country using locally recognized celebrities.

In Miami, Johnnie Walker has used Carlos Ponce, Fonseca, Jeremías, Jorge Villamizar of Bacilos and Ingrid Hoffman for small exclusive concerts and special events at venues such as a pop-up store for the holidays at Merrick Park, a yacht for Father’s Day and hotels such as the Setai and Gansevoort.

“This is our way to recognize that Latino consumers in the U.S. have a different relationship with our brand. It’s a vibrant, connected, fun and passionate group,” said Kleinman.