Marketers Explore Opportunities in Hispanic E-Commerce Targeting

What: Despite the fact that Hispanics have adopted e-commerce at a faster pace than the general market, marketers are struggling to effectively target the demographic on e-commerce platforms and lack effective measurement tools for conversion and attribution.
Why It Matters: Hispanics as a whole represent $1.5 trillion in annual spending power, but few companies have proactively targeted them in the e-commerce realm. As shoppers increasingly head online to make purchases, some in the industry are predicting a "Hispanic targeting renaissance."

Today there are 55 million Hispanics with $1.5 trillion in annual spending power in the United States. They skew younger than your average demographic (80 percent are Millennials or younger), are digitally savvy and love shopping online after comparing prices and doing their research.

E-commerce in general is picking up steam across the country as people abandon physical stores in favor of the convenience of shopping online. According to a according to a report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in 2018, online sales of CPG products will hit $35 billion, up from $8 billion in 2013. And a Univision study found that Hispanics are a driving force in the adoption of online grocery shopping: 50 percent of Hispanic shoppers (and 60 percent of Millennial Hispanics) have bought a grocery item online in the past year, versus 40 percent of the general US market.

Now, marketers must untangle the behavior and preferences of an increasingly diverse demographic, and master the art of attribution and conversion across a purchasing journey that can involve multiple devices on and offline.

Get Ready for a Hispanic E-Commerce Renaissance

Lee Vann, the founder and director of Hispanic marketing agency Capture Group, emphasized that marketers should not be surprised that Hispanics are active on e-commerce sites, “as they tend to be more active across most Internet activities.” The surprising thing is that until now, “few companies have proactively targeted Hispanics via e-commerce, despite a clear opportunity,” Vann said.

Vann suggested that we may be on the brink of a Hispanic e-commerce renaissance, as retailers like Amazon increase their offerings for Hispanics. As the big players throw their hats in the ring, Vann suggested that we should “look to others to follow.”

Few companies have proactively targeted Hispanics via e-commerce, despite a clear opportunity.

Katie Thomas, a Regional Manager at Bush Brothers, asserted that "large retailers are doing a better job of segmenting stores based on demographics (Latino, African American, etc.)," but that "it is one thing to identify these stores but another to actually market different products in these stores to meet consumer’s needs." According to Thomas, "the retailers that are doing this will win in the marketplace."

E-Commerce a ‘Double-Edged Sword’ for Attribution and Conversion Models 

Some would assume that the increasing popularity of e-commerce among Hispanics means that marketers should have a wealth of data points from which to collect insight on their preferences and behavior. But Vann warned that “e-commerce can be a double edged sword when it comes to attribution and conversion models.”

Cookies, for example, are one of the most popular tools for tracking consumers’ purchasing journey. However, data has revealed that they are not always effective. According to Nielson OCR Norms, 58 percent of cookie-based measurement is overstated, targeting in cookie-based measurement is only 65 percent effective, and 12 percent of conversions are missed with cookie-based measurement.

Brands shouldn’t be timid to drive consumers to e-commerce sites with cultural relevant and/or in-language advertising.

What’s more, in a world where shoppers often start their journey online and end it offline or on a different device, it’s hard to know whether the people looking at products online are actually buying. Last-click attribution models ignore the fact that many shoppers follow a windy path involving different devices and visits to physical stores before making an online purchase. “Marketers must look across the Omnichannel path to purchase and ensure they capture the impact of the digital channel on sales that may have started online but ended offline,” Vann said.

Marketing strategist and consultant Daniel Villaroel emphasized that in this case, brands must take on the responsibility of experimenting until they get it right: “Optimization is always the responsibility of the brands to maximize sales.  It behooves them to see what works and what doesn’t work.”

He continued: “Brands shouldn’t be timid to drive consumers to e-commerce sites with cultural relevant and/or in-language advertising.” He added that instead of worrying about which language Hispanics are more comfortable speaking, brands should “test, see what works and optimize."

Brands Struggling to Implement Measurement Tools Effectively 

It isn’t that brands are lacking measurement tools — it’s that they themselves are not confident that they are using them correctly.

Bush Brothers' Thomas admitted that brands are still grappling with some of the most basic aspects of understanding Hispanic consumer behavior. “Bush uses measurement tools on our key brands but we have not done a good job of utilizing these when it comes to the Hispanic Shopper,” Thomas said.

While location-based data is an effective tool for getting Hispanics inside a physical store, brands need more when it comes to e-commerce since they must put extra effort into understanding what specific products Hispanics want. Thomas elaborated: “Large retailers are doing a better job of segmenting stores based on demographics (Latino, African American, etc.), but it is one thing to identify these stores and another to actually market different products to meet consumer’s needs,” said Thomas.

This turns into a complicated task when one considers that Hispanic shopping patterns vary greatly based on factors like age and assimilation level. According to a recent report from ThinkNow Research, nearly a quarter of Bicultural Hispanics say they would go to another store to purchase their favored brand, while only 18 percent of less acculturated Hispanics said the same. That seven-point difference cannot be ignored when marketers are developing Hispanic e-commerce targeting campaigns.

For some marketers, it may start with accepting what they don’t know. Think Hispanics are more loyal across the board? Think again. The same report by ThinkNow Research found that less acculturated Hispanics — those that have not fully assimilated into American culture —  are no more brand loyal than other segments. Bicultural Hispanics — those who are generally first  or second-generation Americans who identify with both the U.S. culture and their Hispanic heritage — are considered more loyal across several CPG categories.

Targeting: 'Not Doing Anything is the Primary Issue'

tech.infocustechnologiesOne thing is certain: this is a hugely powerful demographic, and retailers and brands must find a way to capitalize on the fact that Hispanics are making e-commerce a regular feature in their shopping routines.

According to Villarroel, “not doing anything is the primary issue,” and that despite the fact that we are in the age of digital, brands are not delivering “micro-targeted content that’s meaningful,” and “sometimes content is still served up as a one size fits all.” This means that retailers must aid brands in forming an accurate picture of the people visiting their e-commerce sites.

The savviest marketers will make Hispanic e-commerce part of their long term plans and ensure that their products are presented in a culturally relevant way.

Vann added that to connect with this attractive demographic, brands will have to come ready with “Spanish language product information and meta data, culturally relevant imaging and messaging, and proactive marketing to drive sales.”

Brands looking to drive Hispanic e-commerce sales must start with forming a more complete picture of Hispanics, not just as consumers, but as people whose different experiences and cultures give shape to their decisions. “The savviest marketers will make Hispanic e-commerce part of their long term plans and ensure that their products are presented in a culturally relevant way,” Villarroel said.

Get ready for #Portada17 on Sept. 14 in New York City! The Hispanic Sports Marketing Forum on September 13, and the 11th Annual Hispanic Advertising and Media Conference on September 14 will provide you with the best content and unparalleled networking opportunities to succeed in Multicultural America.


Gretchen Gardner @gardnergretchen

Gretchen is a communications specialist and owner of GMG Strategic Communications. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she works with Argentine and international ventures on shaping their content, branding and marketing strategies to position them for success in global markets. She is also a lover of all things information and has worked consistently in journalism since college, most recently as a writer at Portada and as the deputy editor of The Bubble, the first informal, English-language news portal in Buenos Aires. She hails from Washington, D.C. and has a bachelor's degree in history and Hispanic studies from Hamilton College as well as a master's in international relations from the Argentine university Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
Gretchen is a communications specialist and owner of GMG Strategic Communications. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she works with Argentine and international ventures on shaping their content, branding and marketing strategies to position them for success in global markets. She is also a lover of all things information and has worked consistently in journalism since college, most recently as a writer at Portada and as the deputy editor of The Bubble, the first informal, English-language news portal in Buenos Aires. She hails from Washington, D.C. and has a bachelor's degree in history and Hispanic studies from Hamilton College as well as a master's in international relations from the Argentine university Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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