Companies increasing marketing for Latinos
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 31, 2006
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
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
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.
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
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.
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, www.viajabestwestern.com. 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
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
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.
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."