What: Nestle’s Multicultural Shopper and Marketing Strategist Margie Bravo tells Portada her insights on how to reach the Hispanic market and do it right.
Why It Matters: Too many brands are failing to recognize Hispanic consumers are a significant percentage of their future growth. Margie Bravo shares best practices for the multicultural world, how many brands are misusing data, how to reach the Hispanic market, and the danger of cultural messaging be driven by assumptions.
The Largest CPG Brand in the World
Over half of the United States’s population growth can already be attributed to Hispanic Americans. This demographic is increasingly diverse in their language preferences and expressions of Latin culture. As they become the largest ethnic minority in the United States, they are carving out a new place for themselves in American culture. But brands are still scrambling to find a way to respond to these shifting social groups.
Nestle is widely recognized as the largest CPG brand in the world. They recorded $90 billion in revenue and $8.6 billion in profit for the trailing twelve months that ended on April 7, 2017. The United States is Nestle’s largest market, bringing in $27.4 billion in sales across all brands in 2016. But if Nestle and other similar CPG heavyweights are to stay on top, they will have to stay at the vanguard of multicultural marketing, particularly Hispanic.
Margie Bravo, the food and drink giant’s Multicultural Marketing Manager, is a Mexican-American mother of three bicultural children. From her position, she tries to reach the Hispanic market from the perspective of both a consumer and a marketer.
When Researching How to Reach the Hispanic Market, Assumptions Are Dangerous (But All Too Common)
According to Bravo, one of the most prevalent mistakes that marketers make is assuming anything about particular demographics. Failing to back up conclusions about Hispanic consumers with real data also happens often. “I think to win with multicultural marketing you need to be curious and open-minded,” Bravo explains. “Many times, when we work for a specific brand at Nestle, we think we know everything about it. We tend to answer the consumers’ questions from our perspective, thinking they are just like us.”
She pointed to Nestle’s Tollhouse cookie brand. During the holidays, Nestlé has to remember that while acculturated Hispanic-American children like to leave cookies for Santa Claus, campaigns should not assume that these children’s parents have grown up with the same tradition.
Language use among Hispanics is also varied. While Hispanic Americans are disproportionately young and tend to speak English as well as Spanish, their language preferences are not clear-cut. When discussing sentimental topics like family, love, tradition, Spanish may be preferred. However, English may be spoken at school or among groups of young friends.
Handle Data With Care
Bravo insisted that assumptions are still keeping marketers from connecting with Hispanics. This is a mistake, since the demographic will be key to driving brands’ growth in the United States. She pointed to a persistent lie that Hispanics don’t purchase Premium Brands. In reality, the demographic actually contributes some of the most valuable consumers for Haagen-Dazs, Nestle’s Super Premium ice-cream.
For all the fuss that brands are making about multicultural marketing, it appears that they need to learn to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. This means they need to invest in understanding what drives different consumer behavior within the Hispanic demographic. Brands are still figuring out how to read and make use of their data. This is part of the problem.
Even the world’s largest brands are struggling to make data analytics work in their favor. According to Bravo, too few marketers are giving growth — as opposed to current sales — the attention it deserves. “The process we follow at Nestle is to first start with business analytics, in order to identify where our sales are coming from. Then, to immediately look at contributors to growth.” Bravo said.
The American Consumers of Tomorrow Are Largely Hispanic
Marketers are still learning how to use data to dig into deeper levels of consumer trends and demographic patterns. As a result, it’s surprisingly easy to ignore the obvious, and become stuck on who is buying the products now instead of who is likely to be buying them in the future. (Spoiler alert: it’s Hispanics).
The Hispanic market accounts for around 24% of Millennial consumers. At their age, they are still in the “acquisition stage,” when they are forming their first long-term relationships with brands. If brands only pay attention to their current customers, they may find themselves ignoring a very different population and paying a large price for it in a few years.
Use Data to Understand Their Importance
Brands that do pay attention will see that there are significant opportunities to approach the Hispanic market. One way is by connecting and creating long-term relationships with consumers in the demographic. “They also have larger households with multigenerational family members. They’re having more kids, which opens consumption for a great number of categories,” Bravo added. But not enough brands are taking even this much into account.
“I think sometimes brands don’t ask how much Multicultural consumers are already contributing to sales in their category,” Bravo lamented. The world’s most innovative brands need to invest in training analysts to go deeper with data. They must use their information to identify variables and reveal the motivations of diverse Hispanic consumers.
What’s more, brands that don’t understand data will have a hard time defending Multicultural budgets. “When brands don’t understand where their growth is coming from in terms of the different Multicultural groups, it’s very difficult to defend budgets,” Bravo said.
Multicultural Masters Will Have Significant ‘Foundational Research’
Bravo asserted that in order to reach the Hispanic market, brands are going to have to lead a special effort. They need to educate themselves and do “foundational research” so that they can truly “speak the language of culture, not just the language.” This means creating degree programs dedicated to the field and encouraging exploration of new methods and metrics that assign values to complex and evolving consumer behavior.
“Brands just need to understand that growth is the name of the game.”