Leveraging mobile marketing to reach the Hispanic population

In conducting research on how consumer packaged goods (CPG) and food and beverage companies can better work with retail partners to develop effective mobile marketing strategies, we recognized an opportunity for marketers to focus on the Hispanic population.  With a growth rate more than four times  that of the entire country and an expected 2015 purchasing power well in excess of $1.25 trillion, the U.S. Hispanic population is one of the most important consumer segments for CPG and food and beverage companies. The most successful companies will be those that can effectively engage these consumers and develop enduring brand loyalty. The question these companies must address is how to best reach and establish a strong base of Hispanic customers. Studies on smartphone ownership in the United States help provide direction to companies seeking to enhance their marketing to the Hispanic population.

Based on findings from the Pew Research Center, only 45% of Hispanics have a home broadband connection and, as a group, are more likely to get online via their mobile phones in place of a home broadband connection. A study by the Nielsen Co. found that the rate of smartphone ownership by Hispanics was meaningfully higher than for African-American or White mobile phone owners.  This higher rate of smartphone adoption presents a strong opportunity for CPG and food and beverage companies to implement mobile marketing strategies to more effectively reach this population. 

CPG and food and beverage companies seeking to engage Hispanic consumers must develop unique mobile marketing strategies that specifically target this consumer group. The first step is to explore the experiences of both peer companies and those in other industries, such as cable TV, which have been successful in promoting services to the U.S. Hispanic population. This broader market perspective is an important input to the formulation of an effective mobile marketing strategy because it allows a company to benefit from the experiences of others by highlighting best practices and warning of potential pitfalls.  Once a company has established a deeper understanding of what has and has not been effective in engaging Hispanic consumers, it can focus on developing content to support its mobile marketing strategy.  This content must meet three broad criteria to be effective:  it must be relevant; it must integrate with broader marketing efforts; and it must be easily accessible.

To be relevant and interesting, a company must offer content about its products that connects to the unique culture, background and interests of Hispanics.  For a food manufacturer, this could include texting recipe suggestions that include the company’s products in traditional Latin American cuisine.  While blatant and potentially offensive stereotypes must be avoided, companies should not ignore the utility of offering content that is more likely to resonate with Hispanics.  For instance, campaigns involving baseball or soccer are more likely to draw greater interest than hockey imagery.

Maintaining parallel advertising efforts for each targeted consumer population may not be realistic or cost-effective, so companies must find ways to integrate their Hispanic-focused content into existing and planned branding activities without creating confusion for other consumers.  While challenging, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. P&G’s Head & Shoulders brand, for example, has had success in incorporating Hispanic-focused content into its other branding activities, such as its “Hats Off Movement” campaign, which featured both Spanish and English content presented in similar templates on Facebook.

Accessibility is the most important consideration when leveraging mobile marketing to better reach the Hispanic population. Accessibility is achieved by maximizing two factors:  Language and points of entry. Language, often a common denominator in this diverse population, is an important consideration in driving accessibility. An effective approach to Hispanic marketing must go beyond a simple Spanish language shelf-talker in the ethnic foods aisle at the grocery store. Efforts must include regularly updated Spanish-language versions of a company’s mobile content, as well as Spanish-language content related to the item being promoted or marketed. Images are likely to be more effective than text and can serve to overcome the language barrier when inclusion of Spanish text is not feasible.  Manufacturers must make it easy for Hispanic consumers to access their targeted content.  By maximizing the available points of entry, or opportunities for Hispanic consumers to engage with the manufacturer’s content, companies can increase the likelihood that their content will be utilized.  Tactics to consider in creating additional points of entry from mobile devices include providing QR codes that link directly to Hispanic-targeted content and using Shazam tagging in advertisements airing on Spanish-language TV channels.

The demonstrated willingness of the growing Hispanic population to engage online via mobile devices presents an opportunity for the CPG and food and beverage industries.  Successful companies will understand what has worked in the past and recognize that taking a one-size-fits-all approach in which existing marketing messages are simply translated into Spanish will not yield effective results.  Companies must provide relevant content that will resonate with this audience in order to embed their products within Hispanic culture and purchasing behavior.


Corbin Miller is a managing consultant at Maia Strategy Group, where he leads client engagements across a wide range of industries.  He has more than a decade of experience as a business strategist and adviser to clients in both the nonprofit and private sectors.  Prior to joining Maia Strategy Group, Corbin was a consultant at Kaiser Associates and is a former deputy director of the Prague Security Studies Institute in the Czech Republic.  He holds a degree in leadership studies from the Jepson School of Leadership at the University of Richmond with minors in business administration and Spanish. This article is part of a series of articles and whitepapers written by the Maia Strategy Group focusing on new technologies and how CPG companies can more effectively work with their retail partners.

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