Did you hear about Nestle’s recent launch of Construye el Mejor Nido(“Create the Best Nest”), a new communications platform to reach the U.S. Hispanic market? Maybe you’ve seen or visited Unilever’s Vive Mejor (Live Better) program, a similar cross-platform effort to engage Hispanics around various Unilever brands. If you haven’t noticed, there has been a growing trend over the last five years among consumer goods companies to launch Hispanic multi-brand programs. Here is a brief summary of some of the larger Hispanic multi-brand platforms currently in market:

So what exactly are these multi-brand platforms? Simply put, they are efforts by companies that own and market multiple brands – think Proctor & Gamble – to collectively market a suite of brands together. We’ve all seen ads for Cheerios on TV. The multi-brand platform approach is when General Mills (the owner of Cheerios) pools all their major brands – such as Betty Crocker, Green Giant, Hamburger Helper, Nature Valley, Progresso, Yoplait and Cheerios – under a big umbrella brand. Sometimes that umbrella brand is the corporate brand – e.g., Kraft, Nestle, or S.C. Johnson. However for most of the Hispanic market efforts, the trend is towards creating a culturally relevant, unique Hispanic umbrella brand – such as Orgullosa or Que Rica Vida.

So what is the opportunity and benefit afforded by a Hispanic multi-brand program? The two biggest opportunities are cost-efficiency and cultural relevancy. Pooling marketing resources is a very attractive option for brand portfolios because developing unique brand platforms can get expensive. This is one of  the reasons brand portfolios exist to begin with. This is particularly important when it comes to Hispanic marketing, where budgets are often limited, or nonexistent. In particular, a multi-brand platform provides an opportunity for smaller brands – with smaller, or no budgets – to share resources with larger brands. By pooling brand marketing resources, many companies are able to invest the resources necessary to create a truly relevant cultural platform to connect with Hispanics. Since most individual brands do not have the budget to develop a large integrated cultural communications platform, the multi-brand approach provides the resources necessary to do it right.

The multi-brand program concept was originally rooted in print and experiential environments, as pioneered in the Hispanic market by Sears Todo Para Ti in the ‘90s. Yet as digital – the Web, mobile and social media – has assumed a central role in these platforms, a natural question arises: Do these multi-brand platforms make sense in the digital world?

The answer is a resounding YES. A central tenet of these multi-brand platforms is to focus on providing valuable and culturally relevant content as a way of building brand awareness and affinity and ultimately product sales. The Web and social media are perfect media for content-focused marketing programs. A website, particularly one leveraging a robust content management system, is a potent publishing platform. By artfully integrating social media, brands have a potential for the most widespread distribution system we’ve seen to date to syndicate that content.

However, most of the Hispanic multi-brand platforms in market today are not fully leveraging their potential. This is manifesting itself in limited traffic levels, low levels of user generated content, and content that is not quite providing the utility they could to Hispanic digital users. Most importantly, while some offer English-language content, they have not been able to connect as effectively with acculturated Hispanics.

Where most of the multi-brand platforms are still not fully leveraging the opportunities afforded them digitally:

User-centered design User-centered design principles prioritize the needs of the end user, providing content and functionality that meets user goals. Most of the Hispanic multi-brand platforms are organized around how companies categorize their brands, not necessary the way Hispanics use them.

Content Strategy & Utility All of the multi-brand platforms offer high quality, professional content that is culturally relevant. However, is the content useful and meeting an unmet Hispanic consumer need? I did some very basic Spanish keyword volume research, and most of the multi-brand platforms fail to offer content that is relevant to the most popular search terms. Similarly, users are increasingly demanding and expecting video content online. These platforms should start to embrace a video-first content strategy.

User-Generated Content Getting users to contribute meaningful content on a consistent basis to a commercial marketing program is never easy. Getting Hispanics to contribute content is arguably a bigger challenge. However, I still believe there is a big opportunity to multi-brand platforms to creatively embrace and encourage community content. The potential for engagement and content utility is enormous.

Responsive Design Hispanics continue to outpace the general market in mobile Web browsing and tablet adoption making it imperative that all Hispanic digital programs embrace responsive design. Responsive design is a form of website visual and user experience design where the layout of a website adapts to the viewing environment – one website that adapts to the screen size of a desktop browser, tablet or mobile phone.

Content Distribution Whenever an organization or individual starts producing quality content, they should look to syndicate it. The Web is an increasingly fragmented environment, and it’s critical for multi-brand platforms to make sure their content is where their users are – and that is often not their websites.

Don’t get me wrong I think the aforementioned CPGs are way ahead of the game and on the right track. Brands in other categories should take a page from their CPG colleagues: many elements and opportunities of Hispanic multi-brand platform concept can be effectively applied to other industries, such as beverage companies, financial services, pharmaceuticals, and telecom. The first movers have the advantage now, but followers can build on the learnings of the pioneering Hispanic multi-brand platforms.

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