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.


Are You Still Arguing Over Muticultural ROI? Get Over It.

By  Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative and President and CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

When it comes to multicultural marketing, many organizations still struggle to answer the question about whether multicultural marketing ROI is justifiable. But, think about it. Isn’t that like asking whether it makes sense to market to only some consumers who buy our products and services because we can’t figure out the value of marketing to all current or potential buyers? Does it really make sense to decide that marketing to a segment of our consumers is a discretionary investment?

If that made any sense at all, one could easily question marketing investment in general. Nearly everybody who works in marketing knows the John Wanamaker quote, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” The truth is that tracking marketing spend against ROI has always been like trying to nail air to a wall, and yet we continue to invest millions. So why does multicultural marketing ROI remain such a contentious issue?

I believe the problem stems out of the fact that U.S. marketers haven’t yet evolved from being Middle America marketers to Multicultural America marketers. We are still thinking and behaving as though our country remains demographically unchanged.

We read and hear about the demographic change and its impact, yet we continue to rationalize planning and spending primarily against an outdated marketplace definition. In his white paper after the 2010 census results were released, Peter Franchese, founder of American Demographics magazine said, “marketers need to realize the U.S. has changed forever adding that the concept of the Average American no longer exist and trying to market to them is an irrelevant undertaking.” Did anybody else but me read this?

And if we know this, why aren’t we stepping up our organizational game to learn about and respond to this new marketplace reality? Why do we continue to question the sense in understanding and investing in the marketplace as it currently exists? Why aren’t we taking a comprehensive approach to raising our organizations’ competency and capabilities so we can actually see what truly makes sense for our businesses? Why don’t we see the fool heartedness of remaining mired in debates about ROI justification for multicultural segments simply because we don’t understand these segments in relation to our business goals?

How can our organizations claim to be great global marketers when many of our organizations haven’t a clue about the impact this demographic change is having and will continue to have on their business? How can we say we’re successful multicultural marketers when most within our organizations refuse to acknowledge the impact of these segments on the organization’s business? Why do we continue to relegate responsibility to managers who are hired to “deal” with multicultural segments which the rest of the company doesn’t understand or with which few want to deal.

Some of us would shutter at the honest answers to these questions as many are founded on personal, philosophical, and political ideology, but let’s remember that we’re in this to grow our businesses based on business savvy not personal views or biases.

We are at a pivotal point in our country’s demographic history where multicultural market expertise including a much multiculturally impacted non-Hispanic white consumer is a requirement for every organization’s growth strategy.

Smart organizations simply can’t afford to remain indifferent to America’s demographics or to continue make only tactical efforts to effect sizable growth for their organizations. Status quo multicultural ROI rhetoric is not only irrelevant in today’s America, but it is an increasingly dangerous liability corporate America can no longer afford to carry.

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.


Leveraging Hispanics to Assure Growth in the Next Five Years Requires a New Outlook

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

In a recent meeting with a VP of Multicultural Marketing, one of the top concerns that came across was the desire to sustainably position Multicultural Marketing in the company for the next five years and beyond.  In other words, this VP wanted to succeed in creating a formal strategic plan to integrate Multicultural consumers into all aspects of insights gathering, planning, strategy development and implementation to effect growth for the company’s brand portfolio.

As importantly, this VP was also concerned about the sustainability of the multicultural work already in place as new brand managers and directors join the company.

This type of forethought is just what is required of every company which has identified Hispanics as a growth opportunity. It is especially important because multicultural marketing in most companies is not integrated into the business as a business imperative and often lives as a separate effort which requires constant justification and resource sourcing to keep it going.

Much of my writing supports the value of full integration of Hispanics into business planning and implementation so companies avoid the vicious cycle of false starts and stops which in many cases result in companies walking away from Hispanic marketing altogether when budgets and resources are tight and in a revolving door of frustrated and demotivated Multicultural champions.

If you are interested in leveraging the Hispanic market to effect growth for your companies over the next five years and beyond, I recommend you reflect on and consider the following six steps:

  1. Take a conscientious view of your attitudes, beliefs and comfort level when thinking about, understanding and reaching out to consumers who are different from you
  2. Think about your ability to adopt a more realistic and global view of today’s consumer landscape
  3. Take an objective approach in identifying and profiling consumers who represent viable buyers for your products or services regardless of their culture or ethnicity
  4. Think about how applicable your company’s brand promise, strategy and tactics is to all your buyers / targets
  5. Seek out and acknowledge the changes required to ensure relevance to and effectiveness among all target customers
  6. Take an objective business position so you act with no personal agenda, but rather with an eye on the business opportunity

The consumer landscape has changed dramatically and as marketers we must step up our game adapt to this change. Growth will not come to those who wait and dig their heel in what is comfortable and familiar; it will come to those who take off the blinders, are willing to feel out of their element for a bit and those who take the required steps to create it.

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.


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.