Multicultural marketing and the role of relevance

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As mentioned in a previous post, SAS was again a sponsor of the Masters of Marketing Conference, the annual executive conference held by the Association of National Advertisers (“ANA”). I had the pleasure to attend the sessions of this extraordinary event, which brings together the marketing leadership teams of the ANA member companies, which reads like the list of Fortune 100 companies.
One of the sessions struck a few chords with me, and I think they are worth sharing. Graciela Eleta, the CMO of Univision spoke with her C-level counterpart at Kraft Foods, Howard Friedman, about multicultural marketing and Kraft’s successful efforts at targeting these markets. Along the way, they highlighted the importance of the Hispanic market to current and future market growth for all companies, as well as the reasons that Kraft has been so successful in this area.
Univision’s Eleta laid out the plain facts of why companies that ignore the Hispanic market forgo a big source of growth, considering:
  • 46% of the under-18 market are minorities,
  • 95% of all growth in the teenage market is Hispanic,
  • 100% of growth in the 18-49 market is Hispanic,
  • And the U.S. is fast becoming a majority-minority market, which is almost or already the case in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix.
She provided a smooth segue to Friedman’s illustration of Kraft’s multicultural marketing by calling attention to how the most successful companies engage in multicultural marketing over the long term and don’t treat it as a one-off, or regard it as a project to give to the bilingual intern and use left over budget money.  Kraft's Friedman summarized their approach to Hispanic marketing, and what he laid out struck me as dovetailing so neatly with accepted approaches for success in social media marketing:
  • Don’t take shortcuts – devote as much attention and resources as you would to any mainstream programs.
  • Listen more than they talk – Kraft engages with their market over the long haul to be sure they are in line with what the market wants and needs.
  • Adapt and evolve quickly, in pace with the market - which is not the same as being trendy. I took this to mean that they demonstrate how they don’t just listen, but understand the market and stay in sync with it.
  • Integrate Hispanic marketing at a strategic level (not just execution) – they do not treat multicultural marketing as side-show, but it is part of the planning and results reporting all the way up to the c-suite at Kraft.
To Eleta and Friedman’s points, I have watched Univision programming for years to keep my Spanish-language skills current, and I understand their points exactly. As a multilingual marketer, it’s usually clear when a company is just translating their mainstream messages into Spanish, versus one that is truly engaged in multicultural marketing. And as Friedman outlined Kraft’s approach, and as I drew the parallels to social media marketing, it all pointed to one, beautifully simple fact:

Kraft is successful with the Hispanic market because it is relevant.

They seem to have achieved relevance because the content, timing and channel of its messages are in accordance with the needs and wants of their target market, which is enabled by taking the time and effort to listen and understand. Also, they draw linkages and use appropriate references so the target market relates to the message. And they keep relevant by making changes when needed and staying engaged over the long haul. Then I remembered hearing all this a few times before – the first time was probably in Marketing 101. So focusing on the fundamentals may be what helped Kraft be relevant to the Hispanic market.
¡Felicidades, Kraft! Relevance is easier said than done, but fundamentally important for marketing success. Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned. I’ll be exploring the theme of relevance in marketing in the next few posts.
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John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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