Companies increasing marketing for Latinos
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 31, 2006

Chad Graham

The Valley's rapidly expanding Hispanic population may be the key to growth for many local companies, especially in industries such as banking, health care and housing.

But marketing to this fast-changing audience is about more than just translating the language. Needed are strategies and insights on how to capture the Hispanic market.

The good news in local Hispanic marketing circles is that corporations are starting to invest serious money in market research, new media and talent to tap the Hispanic market. The bad news is that, in many cases, the results so far are uneven, says Lydia Aranda, 38, who was recently appointed diverse growth segment director for Wells Fargo & Co.'s desert mountain region that spans Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. "What I do see is the effort. But, in general, companies are not exactly where they need to be when it comes to reaching Hispanic consumers. It seems that most of them are trying to take a broad brush stroke in their approach," Aranda said.

The former director of small-business services for the Arizona Department of Commerce and Gov. Janet Napolitano's small-business advocate, Aranda is the type of marketing professional companies are now seeking to provide deeper expertise in reaching the Hispanic market.

The market is so critical to the survival and expansion of most companies here because of its explosive growth. In the past decade, Arizona Hispanics'
buying power has grown from $8 billion to $21 billion. By 2009, that dollar figure will jump to $31.2 billion, according to market research. Arizona ranks seventh in the country among states with the largest Hispanic markets.
And, in less than four years, nearly one person out of six living in the U.S. will be of Hispanic origin, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

Beyond translation

Targeting Hispanic consumers has become a sophisticated process. Long gone are the days when a company could simply translate English advertisements into Spanish to win over customers.

The new wave of Hispanic marketing aims to capture the culture, traditions and spirit of a diverse group that includes recent immigrants who speak little English, the rapidly growing under-25 market, and third- or fourth-generation Hispanics who behave more like longtime American consumers.

For most companies, this means that Hispanic marketing is now a multilevel process that includes creating unique messages for the general Hispanic market and for specific groups within it.

It's not a new discipline. Wells Fargo began targeting Hispanics on a basic level more than a century ago.

"They actually had Spanish-language advertisements," Aranda says. "They started hiring bilingual agents in California. They also expanded their express mail and courier services into Mexico."

More than 150 years later, of course, Wells Fargo's Hispanic-targeted marketing is far more complex. It now includes bilingual tellers, well-established relationships with such groups as the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a major presence as a sponsor at sporting and cultural events such as Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

In November 2001, Wells Fargo became the first major financial services institution in the United States to accept Mexico's matricula consular cards as one of the forms of identification needed to open a checking account. By late 2003, Wells Fargo says, it had opened 250,000 accounts for immigrant customers using the matricula card. It also accepts consular cards from Guatemala and Argentina.

For Mother's Day, the bank discounted its fee to wire money to foreign countries including Mexico from certain branches and allowed non-customers to send money.

Major strides

Aranda and other Hispanic marketing experts in the Valley say local companies that want to tap this audience must go beyond the superficial and explore Hispanic culture and language issues more carefully, to make sure they are truly seen - and heard - by these consumers.

"Companies are realizing that they are missing the boat," said Liz Topete-Stonefield, 51, president and chief executive of Topete/Stonefield Inc., a Phoenix public relations, advertising and marketing firm. "Twenty years ago, when I started my company, I was told that Hispanic marketing was not important. The market has been growing and growing, and suddenly it is like the discovery of the new world for some companies. Finally, they opened their eyes."

Many Valley corporations have recently made major strides in stepping up their Hispanic-targeted advertising and marketing.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona launched a marketing effort this year built on bilingual and bicultural understanding. Materials printed in Spanish address the Hispanic culture's sense of family and community.

Cox Communications is also marketing its Spanish-language cable TV programming more heavily, including partnering with community groups, maintaining a presence at local Hispanic events and making sure its core electronic and print ads communicate appropriate messages in Spanish.

Chase is targeting the Hispanic banking customer with its first Spanish-language TV campaign, which made its debut in May on the Univision and Telemundo networks. The new campaign is called "Confia en ti. Confia en Chase," ("Confidence in yourself. Confidence in Chase,") and features the song Todo Se Transforma (Everything Transforms) by popular composer Jorge Drexler.

Best Western International Inc. also launched its first Spanish Web site this year, Previously, only the company's booking page offered language options other than English.

Aranda applauds such examples. "We are starting to see companies who are engrained in the culture asking, 'Who is it that's buying it? What is that segment's need? Are they more foreign-born? Are they more U.S.-born?' " she said.

Successful promotions

Arizona companies that have invested heavily in Hispanic marketing say they are starting to see payoffs. This year, the Phoenix Zoo allocated 35 percent of its advertising budget to Hispanic clients and saw significant increase in visitors, says Lisa Urias, 44, owner of Urias Communications, a multicultural marketing consultant for the zoo.

Zoo officials learned about a Mexican holiday on the last Sunday in April called Dia del Nino (Day of the Child).

"The Spanish-language-dominant consumer in Arizona has not really had a way to celebrate that day, so the zoo started last year with a big push (in Spanish only)," Urias said. The company concentrated its marketing efforts on Spanish-language television such as Univision and TV Azteca, as well as radio. On April 30, the zoo saw 11,000 visitors, about double the daily attendance for that time of year.

"The market has had so little attention paid to it that, in some ways, it's ripe for the taking," Urias said.

Global corporations such as Coca-Cola Co. are shining examples of how to advertise to Hispanic consumers living in the United States, Urias says. Two recent TV spots illustrate appropriate goals and execution for Hispanic marketing, she says.

In one, an Anglo kid scarfs down a plate of empanadas and a Coke meant for his Latino friend.

In another Coke spot, a Hispanic kid arrives home from school and has a bilingual conversation with his grandmother in the kitchen. "Those commercials are our history and that's what makes them effective," says Urias.

Avoid pitfalls

Topete-Stonefield tells the story of a former client, the Arizona Lottery, which was trying to promote its Fantasy Five game to Hispanic consumers. The client came up with an idea to show people's lives after winning. One ad showed an Anglo couple going away for a month to a deserted island.

"For me, as a Hispanic, that's punishment," Topete-Stonefield says. "Most Hispanics . . . want to be surrounded by people and party together."

The lottery advertisement for the Hispanic market was changed.

During the next few years, advertising executives say the Hispanic market will change from a secondary market to a primary market as minority populations in some areas of the country grow to become influential majorities.

According to the Selig Center, Hispanic consumers spend a larger proportion of their money on groceries, telephone services, furniture, major appliances, dining out and housing.

Meanwhile, a relatively young group of Hispanic consumers is entering the workforce for the first time or moving up the career ladder, which is increasing its buying power.

"Even though we are a secondary market, we have been treated as a second-class market, which is not only discriminatory, but stupid,"
Topete-Stonefield said. "If you mistreat a target market that is prime, you're making a huge mistake in your company."