Fear of Change? Get Over It Or Stagnate

In preparation for a speaking engagement at the annual conference of an industry association, I was speaking with its President to learn more about the members and their general take of the Hispanic market and specifically, why they had not taken steps to understand it or to coordinate internally to target the market.

I heard several of the same obstacles facing companies today, but specifically, I heard there is fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of budget reallocation, fear of having to work with new vendors, fear of having to support different community organizations, and the list goes on.

All the while I learned, many of the member companies’ businesses are flat or shrinking. Companies simply cannot afford to stand still while the market around them continues to undergo dramatic changes. It is your ability to change with the market or even get ahead of it that will allow companies to refuel growth and stay in business.

The truth is we do change and adapt our products and our go to market approaches constantly, but we do it within the confines of our comfort zones. We do only what we know how to do and deal with people with whom we’ve grown comfortable or who cater to our demands. We shun new opportunities because on surface they seem complex, different and time consuming to understand. Worse, we shun them because they threaten those areas we’ve mastered over the years and we especially don’t want to lose our control or have to reallocate our budgets.

Does any of this resonate? If so, I would encourage you to get over it. Adapting to the growth and needs of the Hispanic market in our trade areas has become a necessity for most U.S. companies. Don’t make the mistake of the retailer which launched a multimillion dollar initiative to take back California where it is losing market share and Hispanics were nowhere on their strategic radar. I wonder if they knew California is 40% Hispanic.

I would offer the following to step up your game and understand what may be at stake for your companies.

  1. To understand the demographic and cultural change the U.S. has been going through and the coordination and alignment work that might be required to win new customers, it’s important to step out of your offices and go into the markets experiencing the greatest changes
  2. Visit and speak to your sales organization and/or speak with your store or branch managers about the changes they see and the tools they need to continue being successful in this new sales environment
  3. Watch for the mix of cultures and languages spoken by your new customer base, you’ll find that while many speak English, culturally they are different people
  4. Watch how Hispanic consumers behave, how they shop for your products and services and think of the implications on what you may need to do differently
  5. Understand who they shop with, who influences their decisions, and how they ultimately make decisions
  6. Watch how they interact amongst themselves and with your sales people
  7. Observe the relevance of your store environment, including product and service skews, merchandising, POP, staffing, literature, digital screens, kiosks, and everything else you consider critical to the customer experience and to sales generation.

The U.S. Hispanic population is the largest minority segment and is growing at a dramatic rate towards ethnic plurality, which has already occurred in the most populous states and is beginning to occur among the U.S. baby population.

If the U.S. economy substantially benefits from Hispanics today, the future U.S. economy will depend on Hispanics even more by virtue of demographic change and the social and cultural shifts expected to accompany their continued growth.

It has become increasingly important to challenge commonly held misconceptions about the Hispanic market that undermine the importance of its size, uniqueness, and value. The compelling evidence of market change is simply too great to ignore. It confirms what many marketers have known for some time, and yet, for some this is a wake-up call about change that is here to stay.  If your companies need to grow, you must change your mind set in order to make this happen.