CNNEE Thought Leadership Breakfast at Portada LA: We Need to Rethink What Total Market Means

What: For the third time this year, Portada and CNN en Español partnered up for the last thought leadership breakfast for multicultural markets. This edition's brilliant panelists included Cynthia Dickson, Associate Director, Multicultural Strategy at Canvas, Elizabeth Barrutia, CEO & Founder of Baru Advertisement, and Teylez Perez, VP, Marketing & Advertising at Pantaya, Lionsgate.
Why it matters: With multicultural consumers accounting for over 50% of U.S. population, there is a need to rewire and rethink what multicultural marketing means. With the advent of new technologies and the access to virtually unlimited data, big players like CNN can tap into insights that allow for a better understanding of its target.

As part of this year's upfront season, Portada and CNN en Español joined forces once again. After the successful Thought Leadership Breakfasts that took place in New York and Miami, the Portada Los Angeles event at the Loews Hotel, Santa Monica, was the perfect setting for one last discussion about multicultural audiences, and specifically about best practices to better address the Hispanic consumer.

In order to kickstart the event, Izzy Gonzalez, Director, Cross-Platform Sales, U.S. at CNN en Español, reminded the audience that the firm is now being rated by Nielsen, a dream come true for the hardworking men and women who have built CNN en Español and have seen it grow to what it is today: the sole 24-hour Spanish-language news network in the U.S. delivering all genres of original content.

The panel, moderated by CNN celebrity anchors Xavier Serbia and Fernando del Rincón, included Cynthia Dickson, Associate Director, Multicultural Strategy at Canvas Worldwide, Elizabeth Barrutia, CEO & Founder of Baru Advertising, and Teylez Perez, VP, Marketing & Advertising at Pantaya. As soon as they were greeted on stage by Serbia and del Rincón, they were immediately asked the first question: to what an extent do we understand who Hispanics are?

For Elizabeth Barrutia, it might not be an easy task, but certain tools help understanding Hispanics when in the middle of planning processes. "We make sure we look at the country of origin, we look at generational differences, [...] we look at the data behind everything and we also look at the cultural context as well; how we say pineapple in Mexico is very different to how we say pineapple in Argentina, so the cultural nuances are definitely something that we consider in our communication strategies."

 It's up to us as thought leaders, as agency partners and ambassadors for our community at large to educate [our clients] on what ROI potential can be.

One of the thoughts in the minds of everyone involved is the fact that Hispanics will become the largest minority in the U.S., or as Serbia put it, the notion that a minority that already translates to "a trillion-dollar purchasing power" will become more powerful. For the panelists, any brand that does not take this into consideration is getting into trouble. Even if Hispanics and their purchasing power are in the minds of marketers, "how they are approaching it is definitely different depending on where they are on the lifecycle on their multicultural marketing," said Cynthia Dickson. "We take each brand in its own stage and help them develop that multicultural marketing knowing that this is the present and the future."

 

As Elizabeth Barrutia pointed out, it's not a matter of whether a brand realizes Hispanics are an important audience or not, multicultural consumers (not just Hispanics) account for nearly 50% of the total U.S. population; brand marketers that don't take this into consideration within their planning will have "a big problem", says Barrutia: "It's up to us as thought leaders, as agency partners and ambassadors for our community at large to educate [our clients] on what ROI potential can be."

Another interesting topic that sparked the speakers' discussion was the differences between first-generation Hispanics and U.S.-born Hispanics, "Are companies and brands thinking about how to get them through the mainstream?", asked del Rincón. To this point, Teylez Perez explained that it's very challenging "to translate brand values, create affinities and be genuine to first-generation, unacculturated immigrants" on one side, and second or third generation Hispanics on the other. "It's not an easy task to find those values and to transmit a singular message that can be appealing to those different segments. The challenge is to be genuine, to offer something different and hopefully connect."

 It's not an easy task to find those values and to transmit a singular message that can be appealing to those different segments. The challenge is to be genuine, to offer something different and hopefully connect.

But how do brands and agencies know exactly how to target these audiences? The answer is, as we have seen in the previous CNN breakfasts, data. There are cultural cues that can be found in data, but in the words of Elizabeth Barrutia, "When you talk about building campaigns that are based on data, there has to be that cultural intelligence in order to analyze it and asses that data for it to have a heart." Thus, what do we have to do better? Where do marketers and agency executives see more room for improvement? "I believe in research," declares Dickson. "Marketers should do their own research on their own brands. I can look at data on the category, on my competitors, and the marketplace, but what do I know about my brand? What do I need to know to get [consumers] to buy my product and feel good about it so they become advocates?"

What do I know about my brand? What do I need to know to get consumers to buy my product and [...] become advocates?

To close the session, Fernando del Rincón introduced the topic of digital and what we need in terms of new technologies. To this point, Teylez Perez asserted that we need to find the way to "create new mechanisms to track, based on traditional models, how you advertise on a digital platform and expect traffic to show up at a certain location."  For Elizabeth Barrutia, the amount of data available makes it imperative "to build communication strategies that resonate with consumers" on an individual basis.

As a final note, Barrutia assured the audience that "we have to reverse-engineer what total market means. It's incumbent upon us to re-educate and say 'Great, you're willing to spend in inclusiveness, now let's see what that actually means.'" In the end, the general takeaway of the three leadership breakfasts for multicultural audiences by Portada and CNN en Español is the same: with a majority of multicultural individuals, we live in a multicultural world that needs us to adapt, or it will leave us behind.

 

 


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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