Hispanic Marketing: Not a Universal Message

As most of us know, the Hispanic population is the second largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, currently consisting of 50.5 million people. I read an article in the St. Petersburg Times this summer that discusses how Hispanic Americans originate from many different countries and backgrounds. Although the universal language for this group is Spanish, it doesn’t mean their tastes and cultures are the same – so we shouldn’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach when targeting them in marketing and public relations efforts. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily use the same marketing strategies when launching a new product in America as you would in England just because people in both countries speak English.

Here are some examples of how Hispanic countries differ among themselves:

  • Culture – Although many people assume Cinco de Mayo is a Hispanic holiday, it’s actually Mexican – not Puerto Rican, Colombian or Venezuelan. Dia de los Muertos is also a Mexican holiday that many other Hispanic countries observe. However, Mexicans celebrate this holiday by visiting cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, while Guatemalans set themselves apart by constructing and flying giant, decorated kites, traditionally believed to guide souls back to life.
  • Language – While most people know that the Spanish word for “friend” is “amigo,” the slang term in some areas of South America is “parcero” or “pana,” and in Central America it can be “pasiero” or “vato.”
  • Other – Baseball is a popular sport in Cuba and Venezuela, but not in Bolivia and Argentina, where soccer is preferred.

I’m from Brazil, the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America, and while we are often categorized as a part of the “Hispanic” population, we are actually classified as “Latinos” due to our language differences and historical background. So remember: before launching a major marketing or public relations campaign – or even prior to sending out a press release – faça sua pesquisa (do your research).

Are you aware of any other cultural differences among the Hispanic population that you feel PR and marketing professionals should be aware of?

Vanessa is Linda Costa Communications Group’s newest PR team member. She’s from Brazil and will be bringing some Latin “flavor” to the table – and our department.

140 Characters or Less: PR/Marketing Professionals

Recently, we challenged local journalists to describe how social media has changed their job description in 140 characters or less. The idea was inspired by this Los Angeles Times article. In this post, we wanted to share some answers from the perspective of some of Central Florida’s public relations and marketing professionals, including:

Do you think being active on Twitter makes you a better PR/marketing professional? Why or why not?

  • Jennifer Wakefield: Yes. Twitter is an excellent business intelligence tool.
  • Carlos Herrera: Better – Yes. I think using/understanding SM tools like Twitter complements what we do. It’s all about communication.
  • Jennifer Bisbee: Twitter sharpens my business acumen. It’s my best professional development tool.
  • Jamie Floer: Twitter definitely strengthens my PR skills because it is an active communications tool that is dynamic, evolving.

How has social media made your job easier or harder?

  • Jennifer Wakefield: It’s a toss-up. Easier in that there is more info. Harder in that there is more info.
  • Carlos Herrera: Easier. It’s been great for getting/sharing info, networking & brainstorming. It’s also a good way to clear your mind on a short break.
  • Jennifer Bisbee: Neither. As an insatiable curious student of communications, I welcome SM for all it offers.
  • Jamie Floer: SM makes my job not easier or harder but different … PR has changed from static to more immediate, empowering.

Describe your Twitter personality in three words:

  • Jennifer Wakefield: Short. Social. Informative.
  • Carlos Herrera: Sarcastic, Entertaining, Interested.
  • Jennifer Bisbee: Generous. Engaging. Appreciative.
  • Jamie Floer: Professional, personal, prolific.

A special thanks to all the journalists and PR/marketing professionals who shared their thoughts in 140 characters.

New Coke: 79 Days Results in Marketing Infamy

coca cola

As we’ve heard time and time again – if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. On Friday, April 23, Coca-Cola will be reminded of this, as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of “new Coke.”

In 1985, as a response to the enthusiasm surrounding a new beverage company, PepsiCo – Coca-Cola introduced a reformulated product. To put it mildly, the new drink was negatively received, and a public outcry ensued. People began hoarding cases of the original drinks (quickly dubbed “old Coke”). In June 1985, Newsweek reported that savvy black marketers sold “old Coke” for $30 a case and the company’s consumer hotline was getting 1,500 calls a day from upset customers. Protestors even rallied at the corporate headquarters in Atlanta. After a grueling 79 days, the company pulled “new Coke” from the shelves and brought back the original – now labeled “Coca-Cola Classic.”

The “new Coke” example is often at the top of the list of marketing blunders and is used as a “what not to do” case study. And, while it’s easy to fault Coca-Cola (who changes the world’s most popular soft drink in the first place?), the company learned a valuable lesson about brand loyalty. Until “new Coke,” customers didn’t know what they were missing. Suddenly, people realized that a soft drink actually meant something to them. Before the product reformulation, overall consumer preference and brand awareness were slipping. The firestorm surrounding “new Coke” was replaced by affection for Coca-Cola Classic, re-energizing the company. Coca-Cola now knows the power of their brand, which I’m betting is a marketing tool many companies wish they had.

Photo credit: DeusXFlorida

Social Networking: Beyond Facebook

By now, you know about Facebook and MySpace. But did you know that there are a whole host of social networking platforms that may be better tools to help companies reach key audiences? Sound like targeting? That tried and true marketing principle is even more important in today’s online world.

Mashable compiled a list of 350 social networks — ranging from connecting families … to shopaholics.  Here’s just a sample of some targeted networks that you shouldn’t overlook:

  • Ning — create your own social network
  • CarGurus — connecting car lovers
  • Shelfari — where booklovers gather
  • CafeMom — uniting moms and mothers-to-be
  • Flickr — sharing photos
  • LinkedIn — professional networking

Bottom line: Don’t just create a page on Facebook because you think it’s “the place to be.” Instead, do a little research. You might be surprised to learn that you can engage a network that provides direct access to your target market.