3 brands that lost -- and won back -- Latinos

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So what's all this hype about Latinos being the second-largest demographic in population and online consumption patterns in the U.S.? Does it make marketers salivate to plot online marketing campaigns for Latinos? And if so, why have efforts been so dismal? Assumption: Marketers think Latinos will make a purchase no matter who is selling the product; after all, they have to buy -- stop right there. Bad assumption.

The 2011 IAB report "U.S. Latino Online: A Driving Force" found that more than half of U.S. Latinos prefer marketers to make a strong connection with their culture by relaying the message in this order of languages: Spanish, Spanglish, and then English.

The IAB also found that U.S. Latinos spend more time online than non-Hispanic whites, and that 61 percent of Hispanics made online purchases and spent an average of $746, which isn't far behind the total internet population at 72 percent, spending an average of $851.


With that said, it's surprising that marketers aren't more interested in targeting ads to the U.S. Latino demographic. In most cases, ads are targeted instead to the non-Hispanic white population before any other group.

"Behavioral targeting is an under-addressed area with Latinos," Andy Hasselwander, VP products and research for Latinum Network, said. "This area is lagging behind [the]general market by at least a couple years, and it's another big opportunity for marketers moving forward."

But to the credit of three legacy brands, some noticeable efforts to connect with U.S. Latinos have finally been achieved, although not without their fair share of PR fiascos, lack of engagement, low sales, and boycotts before finding redemption.

Here's how they did it:

Ford got its "Fiesta" back
Blunder: Forgetting -- and even worse, not knowing -- who its customer base was cost Ford (America's pioneer and once go-to automaker) a sales plunge of 30 percent, not to mention losing customers to competing foreign carmakers such as Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.

It was this sales slump that forced Ford into a marketing restructure -- most importantly, it had to get to know its true consumer, the largest purchaser of small cars: 18-24 year-old Latinos and African-Americans.

Making things right: Ford took a look at its car line and revived the Fiesta model (which hadn't been seen on the streets for 32 years) and developed a multicultural ad campaign: "Ready Pa' Tu Mundo" -- this time using social media, viral video, mobile advertising, and a banging website to connect with its young bilingual Latino audience. Even more specifically, Ford created a campaign that embodied true urban flair, tech-savvy, and bilingualism.