By Jennifer Woods
Executive Vice President, The San Jose Group

It’s no secret that the Hispanic segment has become an influential force in the U.S. While the 2010 Census will certainly confirm this, there’s an even bigger demographic reality developing, which still calls for a strong and steady focus on the Hispanic segment, but also warrants a new look at a brand’s total marketing strategy.

Simply put, the term “general market,” as we once knew it, has changed.

In the Top 20 metropolitan markets in the U.S., of those between the ages of 18 and 44, more than half, or 52%, of the population is multicultural (Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American). This is happening right now, in arguably one of the most important age demographics that shapes the success of a “national” campaign.

This shift confronts marketers with the challenge of adapting existing marketing strategies when the general market, typically defined as non-Hispanic white, has become more of the segment, and multicultural segments have become more of the mass population.
While this can seem overwhelming, it’s actually an opportunity to elevate a brand’s health and enjoy unprecedented budget efficiencies in the process. We call this model “Nuance Marketing for the Total Market.”

It all starts with a new twist on traditional research

The typical approach to research has been “divide and conquer.” A better approach for the new general market is “converge and connect.” It calls for, first, identifying common connection points, or global truths, across all segments of a brand’s consumer base, based on lifestyle, attitudes and behaviors. Once these key commonalities are identified, then one should overlay factors like race, culture and ethnicity.

Eliminating silos between segments during the learning phase can help a brand more effectively communicate with its total market. Cultural insights can then inform decisions around budget allocation and versioning considerations.

An increased focus on emerging media

To properly address this predominantly multicultural market, it becomes necessary to draw more heavily from emerging media as the driver, with traditional media still playing an important, but more supporting, role. Online media tend to cater to lifestyle segments more effectively than traditional television, radio or print outlets and also encourage a greater level of engagement.

What can a brand expect by getting this new general market right?

•Better Creative Brands can strengthen the effectiveness of their creative positioning within their total market, primarily because most values, drivers and beliefs of multicultural segments also resonate well with non-multicultural audiences. By including a more equal consideration of these segments during creative development, brands enjoy a lift in relevance and stronger differentiation.

•Greater Efficiencies Another common benefit is cost savings. By breaking down the silos of traditional marketing programs (where general market programs lead and segment marketing programs follow), brands can increase efficiencies in agency resources and production costs, resulting in millions of dollars of savings every year. When agency and brand teams collaborate up front, creative executions have the potential to transcend multiple audiences. What is originally created for the Hispanic segment can often be easily versioned for “general market” creative rotation — at a fraction of the cost of doing separate campaigns.

Leading the charge forward

As the overall demographic landscape continues to evolve, and the “general market” continues to become less “general,” Hispanic and multicultural marketers will find themselves in an advantageous position to lead the marketing conversation. Clearly, multicultural segments will continue to exude a larger influence on the population as a whole, so it is only logical that the experts of this new critical mass should exude a larger influence on the marketing models being applied to reach it.

Story courtesy of MediaPost’s Engage:Hispanics

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