Is it best to reach Hispanic consumers via dedicated Hispanic or general-market media?

Terry asks the two key questions to guide an organization decision on the best media and language strategy, and adds that unlike any other media planning what matters is the brand coming alive and being message, language and media relevant.


How Are Companies Addressing The Needs of the Hispanic Consumer From a Messaging Perspective and in Their Stores?

Terry shares how Target’s approach to addressing the needs of all their customers in both their ads and in store and they do so by staying true to their brand and by thinking across all their consumer targets.


I Simply Don’t See Why We Need to Change How We Do Business

Consumer markets are constantly changing and businesses need to change as well.

  1. Step out of your offices
  2. Visit and speak to your sales operation staff
  3. Observe the mix of cultures and languages
  4. Observe how different cultures behave
  5. Observe who they shop with
  6. Observe how they interact amongst themselves and sales people
  7. Observe the relevance of your store environment



Does Your Organization Have A Growth Handicap?

Terry argues that today’s organizations create self imposed growth handicaps when leadership turns a blind eye to changing demographics or simply do not take action based on personal, political and philosophical views. She asks how the desire to evolve personally and professionally as big picture leaders and visionaries can be stimulated.


Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising: Opportunities in the Face of Adversity

Terry J. Soto, Author and President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

A few years back, I and some colleagues were contracted by the Coca Cola
Retailing Research Council of North America to help the council tackle what had
become a critical issue among U.S. food retailers: How to successfully market
and merchandise to ethnic consumers. The result was the actionable “Grow With
America Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising” industry report.

As I thought about how I would begin this 10-month consulting project alongside ten major retailer CEOs, and almost fifty retailer targets, I decided that valuable insights would come from interviewing various stakeholders outside of the retailers themselves. I was sure their observations on the state of ethnic marketing among US retailers would set the stage. I obtained CPG manufacturers’ experience when selling in ethnic trade programs which proved a revealing portrayal of the importance retailers place on attracting ethnic shoppers. And input from trade publications and associations provided a high level view of the true state of ethnic marketing and merchandising in the U.S.

The result was a frank conversation outlining the persistent obstacles directly impacting retailers’ ability to plan and execute ethnic trade programs successfully. The bottom line we found is that retailers are still in a nascent stage when it came to ethnic marketing and merchandising. Some of the most critical obstacles include:

  1. Limited top-level supermarket management commitment to prioritize ethnic marketing
  2. Scarce dedicated management resources to drive ethnic marketing and merchandising initiatives, relative to other marketing expenditures
  3. Inability to reconcile efficiency models and to customize offerings to ethnic consumers
  4. Centralized assortment decisions versus those that address local needs
  5. One size fits all category management benchmarks drive assortment decisions with little room for ethnic assortment adjustments
  6. Reliance on vendor partners to mine ethnic sales data
  7. Tactical store level ethnic initiatives, rather than ethnic initiatives integrated into the retailers’ strategy
  8. Sporadic vendor funded ethnic initiatives comprised mainly of revenue-generating promotions and events
  9. Limited ethnic marketing and merchandising focused on trade advertising and promotions with minimal focus on ethnic customers
  10. Cultural and generational homogenous retail decision makers gets in the way of evolution
  11. Diversity initiatives related to staffing and suppliers are uncommon due to a resistance to change

I presented this report at the Food Marketing Institute Show and as I stepped down from the stage, I was swarmed, not by retailers, but rather by CPGs.

Shortly after, I was hired by these CPGs to share these findings to their brand managers and business directors who immediately saw the following opportunities:

  1. CPG companies identified dedicated and cross functional resources to help retailers understand the ethnic sales opportunity possible through turn-key CPG ethnic programs.
  2. CPG companies helped retail partners create ethnic store clusters and respective category management filters that consider ethnic assortment requirements and ethnic velocity benchmarks.
  3. CPGs optimized distribution systems to facilitate efficient DSD distribution systems to help retailers overcome centralized decisions and distribution hurdles.
  4. CPGs proactively mined Hispanic sales data to help retailers overcome uncertainty about ethnic consumption and size of the opportunity.
  5. CPGs created year-long ethnic marketing trade and consumer marketing calendars with proactive retailer input meetings to deliver continuous strategic programs in support of key sales drive periods.
  6. CPGs pursued more robust diversity goals across their own marketing and sales functions.

Today, retailers continue to struggle with the same hurdles identified eight years ago while being evermore focused on operational efficiencies. However, CPGs have grown increasingly proactively about understanding their retailer partners on their ethnic marketing goals. In doing so, they’ve gained the insights to develop programs which deliver on what retailers, consumers and CPGs value and which are well executed which is the true test of CPG and retailer alignment.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market. For more information please visit www.about or send me an email at:


Are Multicultural Consumers Important to the Growth of Your Brand?

Terry talks about how very simple it is to determine the impact – positive or negative – taking a blaze position has on your brands and gives you four action items to change your approach.


It’s not about a “total market” strategy. It’s about a “total market-competent” organization

Terry J. Soto, Author and President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

Much talk has surfaced lately about the whether it makes sense to have a total market strategy. Some contend that the intent of a “total market” strategy—to recognize all potential consumers’ needs, culture and behavioral characteristics within a company’s marketing strategy—is too often misunderstood or not understood at all. This assertion has resulted in approaches that homogenize how organizations communicate with consumers, and it underemphasizes and even ignores cultural nuances that work to powerfully connect consumers and brands.

This is occurring, in part, as a result of agency work consolidation. Marketers are naively taking work from specialty agencies with the required market expertise, and under the guise of a “total market” strategy, are re-assigning the work to general market agencies who are as naïve and even indifferent to the country’s diverse cultural differences as their clients.

I contend that the problem is based on two dynamics: 1) Said marketers lack understanding of consumer differences. Intuitively, I find this problem very hard to believe, as knowing one’s consumer and leveraging the right tools and resources to do so is at the heart of being an effective marketer. 2) Said marketers are looking for ways to make their jobs easier by streamlining processes, vendors and budgets. But one has to ask, at what cost?

Under any circumstances, marketers’ actions are catastrophic. I believe the crux of this problem is marketers, who remain ill-prepared to effectively see and consider today’s consumer market for what it is, and who aren’t sufficiently capable or competent to effectively create a “total market” strategy. By this I mean a strategy which effectively considers all consumers’ cultural insights: Hispanic, Asian, African American and non-Hispanic white consumers.

More than ever in our country’s history, marketers are challenged to “step up” their competence in an environment that 1) is ever more multicultural or multiculturally influenced, 2) is ever more digitally driven, and 3) requires a greater command of big data usage and analysis to optimize spending and maximize ROI.  It’s true. This is a tall order. So why, at a time when marketers actually need to leverage expertise are they choosing to ignore and minimize the very vendor relationships that can support and even accelerate their success?

Our job as marketers is to optimize our companies’ growth platforms and business strategies by planning and implementing complementary marketing strategies. Doing so effectively has always meant leading with competence AND hiring the right expertise for the job.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for profitable and enduring total market success. She helps her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.


Should Companies Allocate a Budget to Target Hispanics?

Terry quotes Pandora’s Sales VP when she says, “It’s less about siphoning off a Hispanic budget and more about reaching your entire audience in the best possible way.” She emphasizes that a particular target may include Spanish, Spanglish and English preference Hispanics alongside non-Hispanics who happen to be active online radio listeners.


How to Ensure Your Brand Benefits From the Value Offered By Market Research

Terry explains why planning, designing and executing market research without thinking and including all a brand’s target profile is a mistake.


Who’s In Charge Of Your Hispanic Marketing Strategy?

By Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative

Would you ever defer your brand business strategy to your ad agency and follow their recommendations unquestionably because they are the “market experts?” For most seasoned MBA-educated CMOs and brand managers the answer would be a resounding NO. After all, YOU are responsible for growing the business. You are responsible for every decision made in the name of market share domination–right?

So why is it, when it comes to the Hispanic market, marketers find themselves deferring Hispanic market business strategic direction to Junior Brand Managers, Hispanic Marketing Managers and Hispanic agency partners? Why don’t CMOs and brand managers take responsibility for developing and owning Hispanic business direction setting? Why don’t they take responsibility for stepping up their game by acquiring the required competency and capabilities such that they and their organizations can evolve with the needs and requirements of the changing consumer market? Why do smart business managers find it an acceptable business practice to delegate the responsibility of managing their Hispanic business strategy to junior brand associates or to disenfranchised Hispanic marketing managers and “their” agencies?

I was recently invited to speak to a group of brand managers at a multinational company who wanted to hear how I could help them. The person who brought me in had been impressed with my consulting philosophy and process as described in my book and in my articles. One brand manager in attendance had been part of a full day workshop I’d given in Chicago a few months prior. Long story short, I had their attention; they seemed engaged and asked questions throughout. At one point, however, someone asked, but what does all this strategic, organizational and infrastructural alignment and optimization work have to do with building our brands among Hispanics? – An all too familiar question. Well, it became immediately clear some brand managers in the group where just interested in the part where I describe how they could start marketing to Hispanics. So I said, well it’s no different than if you wanted to launch a new product line or enter a new market. You’d likely engage a cross functional team, make sure things were aligned and optimized to be successful. Marketing would be a piece of the puzzle, but it wouldn’t be the whole solution, right? Well this is no different. I had their attention again.

Suffice it to say that, as I exited the room and made my way to the reception area elevator, the team lead followed me and proceeded to tell me how much he liked and appreciated my approach and how they’d already learned so much!

Well, fast forward to a month later; they chose another consultant. The team lead explained in a most apologetic voice, “we really, really like you and we really like your approach, but we just don’t have time for it right now. We just don’t have the resources to put that kind of time and energy to do what you proposed right now. The consultant we selected is someone who will do the heavy lifting and give us a recommendation. He told us what he would do and what we would receive. I know your approach is what we need, but we just couldn’t see us going there right now.”

I politely listened even as I wondered how a group of intelligent brand managers who’d obviously recognized at some point the Hispanic market was important enough to tackle didn’t see it as the type of priority deserving of the time and resource allocation that could lead the company to an optimized business strategy and to an organization and infrastructure that could produce a sustainable and profitable Hispanic market strategy they could understand, internalize, implement and own.

I couldn’t help but wonder how they believed they could take recommendations handed to them by a consultant with whom they would likely work only superficially (because that’s all they had time for) yet think they would ultimately find and allocate the time to implement, monitor and eventually evolve their strategies successfully and sustainably, which is even MORE demanding.

I could only imagine that in the absence to time, internal competency and resources, the answer would undoubtedly be to hand over the recommendations and implementation responsibility to a junior brand manager, a newly hired Hispanic marketing manager and a Hispanic ad agency while the company, its brand managers and its strategies would remain virtually unchanged to truly effect Hispanic market growth. I suddenly understood more than ever a mindset that is all too common.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.