The Growth Solution: Strategic Relevance

By Terry J. Soto, President of About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

Terry J. Soto is author of Marketing to Hispanics: A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning your Initiative and Grow with America Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising.

Companies continue to think and operate with a limited view of today’s marketplace even as the “core” market on which they focus continues to shrink and age. Is it really possible to win with companies’ current approach in markets like California, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Florida, New York and others states where over 300 counties are already majority minority counties?

In general, it can be said that corporations’ strategic assets are mostly relevant to two-thirds of U.S. consumers. As a result, companies are finding it hard to achieve established growth goals because their strategies, operations, technology, innovation, people and marketing don’t consider, speak to or deliver on the specific needs of the remaining one-third of the U.S. population.

Few companies are planning, developing and implementing strategic assets with acknowledgement, understanding and the competence to be “relevant” to the total U.S. consumer marketplace.

I’ve spoken to companies losing market share or where growth is stunted in the above markets, with many just now realizing they may need to do things differently. All the while, their category managers, merchandisers and retail operations teams either have no idea how to be relevant and/or they outright refuse to adapt to the marketplace around them for fear of alienating their “core” customer when the core customer profile has changed dramatically in these markets.

I’ve talked to other companies that, in their quest for growth, are innovating and testing new products and services in the country’s largest markets where Hispanics, African American and Asians represent more than half of the population. Yet, when asked about how the market tests and research results turned out among Hispanics, Asians and African Americans, they respond emphatically that their R&D tests and market research wasn’t an “ethnic” project.

This is the kind of disconnect at work in corporate America today. In this age of globalization, is it really possible that companies are successfully taking steps to expand into foreign markets when they haven’t yet cracked the code on the largest multicultural market within its own borders? Fifty million Hispanics or 100 million multicultural consumers are big numbers, no matter how you look at it.

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