iMedia Connection was lucky enough to sit down with Tamara Barber, the inaugural award winner for the Hispanic Achievement award. Presented by ad:tech in cooperation with the Association for Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), the award is the only one being presented at this year's ad:tech New York 2010 event. A leading expert in Hispanic consumer behavior, Barber was behind Forrester's Hispanic Technographics research and consults marketers interested in entering the Hispanic market.
iMedia Connection: What is the biggest faux pas you've seen from marketers trying to connect with the Hispanic demographic?
Tamara Barber: When it comes to the Hispanic market, I've found that marketers tend to have fewer resources to carry the same kind of due diligence they would in the general market. So, they aren't able to do enough research to truly understand not only the Hispanic market, but their specific segment of the market. And the result is campaigns that don't truly resonate, or marketing efforts that don't even get underway because there isn't enough insight to show the full value of the segment.
iMedia: What is the most impressive or innovative campaign outreach you've seen from companies marketing to the Hispanic demographic?
Barber: I know this was years ago, but I still remember when I saw Toyota's bilingual Super Bowl ad, and I was just so impressed that the company was willing to take that risk on English-language television. For me, it's a great example of how to resonate with Hispanic culture beyond Spanish-language media.
iMedia: What is the most important aspect of the Hispanic demographic that marketers need to know?
Barber: I've got two. First, Hispanic consumers are not homogenous, and marketers need to find their segment in the market just as they would within the general market. Second, Hispanic culture transcends language. Every marketer I've spoken with at least starts with language dominance as one lens for understanding Hispanic consumers, and that's fine, but it's just the very tip of the proverbial iceberg. This segment isn't differentiated by language alone, and language usage is not a black and white issue either. Really understanding this segment and marketing to them effectively means spending time in the culture and with your end consumer. iMedia:
How significant is the Hispanic demographic to digital media?
Barber: I've always found the Hispanic market to be actually a leading indicator when it comes to usage of social and mobile technologies. They are always ahead of the curve, even when you control for age. So, they are a demographic to follow to get a sense of where digital may be headed; and they are certainly a group marketers should want to target when they are considering social or mobile marketing.
iMedia: What is the most important take-away from your Hispanic Technographics research?
Barber: Hispanics are engaged and using technology, and even lower-income consumers in this segment are very positive toward technology. The limitation to even higher adoption usually comes down to income and whether the technology is relevant enough to their lifestyle. Mobile phones are a great example. For a long time, we've seen relatively high adoption among Hispanic consumers, and extremely high usage of data services and now the mobile internet. Why? It's a lot of technology for relative low cost, and it resonates with value Hispanic culture puts on social bonds, allowing users to keep in touch with family and friends -- even across borders.
iMedia: Why do you think large brand marketers have overlooked the Hispanic demographic?
Barber: A lot of the large CPGs actually have very active multicultural marketing initiatives, as do financial services firms, mobile providers, and the auto industry, to name a few. Much of this marketing tends to happen on the typical Spanish-language platforms. These companies are also the leaders in the digital space when it comes to advertising. The challenge with reaching Hispanic consumers on digital channels, and why brands are slow to use these channels, is because the issue of where to reach them and in what language becomes murkier. An online Hispanic consumer in the U.S. has a certain level of comfort with English online -- by necessity. So understanding who you want to reach, where you can reach them, and how language factors into their online experience are three things brands need to triangulate.
Lucia Davis is associate editor at iMedia Connection.
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