Automotive Brand Marketing and Hispanics: Kia’s Eugene Santos’ 4 Key Insights

What: Eugene Santos, Senior Manager, Advertising & Marketing, Multicultural at Kia Motors gave Portada his 4 key insights on automotive brand marketing and how to win Hispanics' hearts.
Why it matters: It's no secret that Hispanics love a good car. The auto industry in the U.S. is growing, just as well as the multicultural population in the U.S. According to a Statista timeline, digital advertising spending of the U.S. automotive industry is expected to reach US $15.5 billion this year.

 

Automotive brand marketing is just like marketing in any other industry. In order to get it right, marketers need to approach it with the right set of tools and a great deal of creativity. Add a multicultural component to the mix, and you'll get a more complicated task. However, if brands take the time to really understand the target and the way consumers relate to the category, they might end up getting a recipe to success.

Eugene Santos

When the 2018 Kia Rio was named one of the top 10 best vehicles for Hispanics by the Hispanic Motor Press Foundation, the company had already been targeting this multicultural segment for years. However, Kia Motors only started selling cars in the U.S. in the 90's. How does a relatively new brand compete with powerhouses of the automotive industry in order to gain Hispanics' hearts?

We talked to Eugene Santos, Senior Manager, Advertising & Marketing, Multicultural at Kia Motors to get his key insights about what the brand is planning to engage Hispanic consumers more effectively.

 

 

Eugene Santos will discuss automotive brand marketing best practices at the 13th annual edition of Portada New York. Get tickets and find out more on September 12, at the Hotel Westin, Times Square.

We use AI to engage consumers who are in the 'discovery' and 'research phases of their consumer journey.

1. Automotive Brand Marketing 101: Make Sure You Engage Your Consumers

Firstly, says Eugene Santos, you have to ensure you understand how your consumers engage with your content. Like any other brand, Kia uses a mix of KPI's and likes/dislikes ratios, but it is also aware of the important role of the right technologies. "We use AI to engage consumers who are in the 'discovery' and 'research phases of their consumer journey," explains Santos. " This gives us an opportunity to look at the multicultural aspect as well."

 

2. When Targeting Hispanics, Always Think In-Culture

According to Kia's latest reports, sales grew 1% in May, mostly thanks to a rise in sales of a favorite of Hispanics— the Kia Soul. "Hispanics are a big part of our success, especially in a flat market," reveals Santos. "The multicultural segment growth has allowed us to stay on pace or ahead of business plans. The Soul has traditionally over-indexed within the Hispanic segment. It tends to skew towards a younger audience and mirrors the demographics of the Hispanic consumer."

Kia Soul - Automotive Brand Marketing Case StudyTherefore, these results show the brand is already doing something right. When asked about the approach Kia takes when marketing to Hispanics, Santos hits the nail in the head. "We don't like to approach this segment by thinking 'Spanish or English'? But rather, 'How do we communicate in-culture? And that can be a combination of either language as it relates to our target audience and the look/feel of our campaign."

 

 

3. Choose the Right Message, Make it Emotional

When asked about messaging, Santos explains that the brand continuously tries to build an emotional connection with the Hispanic segment. The new campaign will "tell the story of the 'unsung heroes' who work hard to accomplish their life’s mission but don’t necessarily crave the spotlight." Kia has previously incorporated into their narrative real stories of hard-working Latinos (watch below). Santos says "this will bring a connection Hispanic consumers by showing Kia lives by the same values as them."

4. Learn From Your (More Experienced) Competitors

In 2017, Dealer Marketing Magazine reported that vehicle purchases by Hispanics would double from 2010 to 2020. Because of tradition from their origin countries, Hispanics have a famous fondness for Japanese cars. In fact, in 2014, Hispanics were contributing to nearly 40% and 30% of total brand growth for Toyota and Nissan, respectively.

Thus, we wanted to know Santos's thoughts on how the relatively new player from Korea competes with these brands. "They've been communicating with the Hispanic segment for a very long time, longer than Kia," agrees Santos. "I started my automotive career at Honda, and having seen their work ethic first hand, I am proud to say that Kia is on its way."

But what sets Kia apart? Its "Give it Everything" philosophy, that "underdog spirit that has helped us improve our vehicle quality, and technology that has allowed us to outperform even luxury brands," shares Santos.

In conclusion, Kia is young, but it is on the right track towards Hispanics' hearts. To find out more about automotive brand marketing first-hand from the experts, join Portada New York!

 

 

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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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