Why Didn’t Our Hispanic Marketing Campaign Work?
Editorial by Terry J. Soto, President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.
It seems that complaints of less than optimal results from Hispanic marketing efforts surface more and more these days. Retailers seem baffled by failed attempts to gain, satisfy
and retain Hispanic customers. Upon closer examination, the common denominator among most companies facing these disappointments is a lack of upfront cross-functional planning
and implementation geared at servicing the consumer.
By many accounts, companies are rushing into advertising and promotions before they have organized their companies to service this consumer. That needs to take place not only
at the cash register, but across all customer touch points throughout the purchase cycle, and that includes post purchase. This implies aligning the internal operational functions
It happens like this. A retailer advertises an offer and Hispanics respond by calling the store or a customer service number to obtain information. The first surprise: no Spanish-language
automated systems to direct them to the right location for answers. And if there is one, there are no bilingual representatives to provide live support. Or they walk into a store
and there are no Spanish speakers on the floor and the four or five Hispanics that are walking around do not speak a speck of Spanish.
Or, they speak Spanish and haven’t a clue about what is being advertised in Spanish and either negate the offer or provide wrong information. How do we know this happens? We’ve
experienced it first hand through over 500 on-site and telephone mystery shopping experiences for major retailers and banks.
The customer is frustrated, doesn’t obtain the information being sought and chooses another retailer; or they decide not to purchase at all. In effect, this consumer is acting
no differently than any other, but unlike his English-language counterpart, has no access to the purchase decision making information he or she can understand.
Some retailers explain that they outsource call center services to India where Spanish cannot be provided. So why do they not outsource Spanish-language calls to call centers
in Mexico? Yes, it does require an additional consideration, but it is clearly one that is necessary if a retailer is going to use advertising to generate interest.
What about special financing, warranties and rebates? Many retailers and banks build campaigns around these features; campaigns which are then translated into Spanish. The problem
occurs when Spanish-speakers enquire about these offers on the telephone or at the store and aren’t able to have the details clearly articulated. And often, these details aren’t
printed on leaflets or “take-ones” as they are in English.
It is easy to see how the strength of a good commercial or sales promotion offer can lose steam, causing consumers to lose interest and refrain from taking action. One retailer
has said that special financing offers resonate several times more strongly among Hispanics than among non-Hispanics. However, they admit that lack of Spanish language contracts
and financing details often cause difficulty for sales representatives.
Retailers indicate that Hispanics are also more likely than non-Hispanics to buy extended warranty coverage for items, but because these programs are seldom explained in Spanish,
either verbally or in print, there is tremendous confusion and dissatisfaction with the action required on their part when an item needs repair. This in turn is exacerbated by
a lack of Spanish speakers at the warranty call center or at the store to explain complex terms of the warranty. So, you begin to get the picture.
Rebates are another area that lack operational follow-through in terms of customer support. Many Hispanics call customer service centers to complain that they have not received
their rebate checks, only to find out that the action of mailing the form with a UPC code was required on their part. Some retailers are finding out that the knowledge about rebates
taken for granted among non-Hispanic consumers cannot be assumed among Hispanics. Retailers are learning that rebate offer claim processes must be explained at point of sale,
which implies training and walking customers through an often unfamiliar process, even possibly introducing them to a UPC code.
Moderator’s Comment: Are retailers jumping into Hispanic-targeted advertising prematurely before first covering their bases operationally? Are they setting
realistic sales goals and are the right metrics in place?
From the examples above, one can see how advertising and sales promotion campaigns can be easily neutralized by lack of operational follow-through and alignment.
But the worse part is that some major retailers have actually concluded that either the advertising was flawed or that Hispanics are unresponsive, uninterested or cannot afford
the products and services being offered.
The final impact is felt in the metrics when measurement methods are flawed and don’t consider operational hindrances that have put a damper on sales results,
customer satisfaction, repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth. And this does not even begin to consider whether the retailer has set realistic sales goals, which should be
based on an upfront assessment of its competitive environment (within a Hispanic context).
A retailer once said to me, that they didn’t understand why they couldn’t expect the market share they had projected in an area that was 68 percent Hispanic,
to which I replied that their stores were located in areas where they only had access to 13 percent of that Hispanic population. Suddenly they realized that total population numbers
are meaningless if stores are not in the right trading areas. –
Terry J. Soto – Moderator