Target Corp., one of the top 25 advertisers on Hispanic Media, spent a little over $40 million in Hispanic media in 2010, per AdAge’s 2010 Hispanic Fact Pack. The retailer, which runs 1,750 stores nationwide, recently hired Colombia-native David Salazar (photo) to head its Guest Insights division, working mostly with market research to better position the Target brand among its consumers. Salazar, a former TNS executive with expertise in the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets, spoke to Portada about the U.S. Hispanic consumer and its importance for Target Corp. An edited transcript follows:


Portada: When did you join Target?

David Salazar: "I joined Target in September 2010. Before that I was in Business School, but prior to that I was at TNS, mostly working out of their offices that focus on the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets."


Portada: How would you describe Target’s strategy in marketing to Hispanics?

David Salazar: "I think first and foremost, we want to feel that the Target store where she shops is her Target. And though that concept is not unique to the Hispanic guest, it takes that unique form when we go to engage [this consumer] with the relevant product mix and appropriate external –and in-store- marketing."


Portada: What does this “relevant product mix” is about?

David Salazar: "A relevant product mix means always offering both, the big national brands that we know overindex with this shopper as well as the unique brands that are important to her. For example: We know [P&G’s] Gain overindexes with Hispanics so it is a matter of really giving Gain visibility. Then, you have very unique brands to this market like Goya, which is a brand they recognize as their own."


Portada: Can you think of other examples of brands that overindex among Hispanics?

David Salazar: "Colgate is a great example. Colgate is a brand that has huge affinity in Latin America and Colgate-Palmolive has been able to transfer that and does really well with U.S. Hispanics.

Colgate-Palmolive enjoys that luxury across several categories. They own Suavitel and Fabuloso, for example. They own such a great equity in Latin America and now, as people have migrated [to the U.S.] they have been able to ride that wave. And its competitors have spent a lot of money and a lot of effort trying to close that gap, but for the most part it hasn’t happened."


Portada: Once you know the brands that do well with this consumer, what do you do?

David Salazar: "We reach out to our vendors, and work with them to give them prime real-estate and endcap space… Endcap is the space at the end of the aisle that gives brands a great visibility. So we give the endcap space to brands that we know overindex with a particular guest in a specific location."


Portada: What kind of data do you use in your market research?

David Salazar: "We use internal and external data; we use Experian Simmons, as well as our own internal data, as both help us see which brands and which products are popping up."


Portada: How many stores does Target have in the U.S.? And where are your most Hispanic heavy stores?

David Salazar: "We are at 1,750 stores across the U.S. and the markets with the highest Hispanic concentrations, I’d say are the top 10 Hispanic markets in terms of population: Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Antonio and McAllen, where over 50 percent of total U.S. Hispanics live."


Portada: How important would you say the U.S. Hispanic market is in terms of Target’s overall sales?

David Salazar: "It is a segment of the population that is very important to us. But not only to us, but to any company doing business in the U.S. that has growth goals. We recognize that this is where a lot of the growth is going to be coming from. The latest Census figures really didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, because it is something that’s being ingrained for a while. I can tell you though that Hispanic continues to be a priority for Target."


Portada: Some of the ads you produce run on both, English and Spanish-language television. How do you make them relevant to each market?

David Salazar: "One of the methods we use is that when we are aware that a copy of creative is going to be used on both, the general market and the U.S. Hispanic market, we work from the beginning on those messages that will allow for the process of transcreation to be smoother. For example, over the holiday season we had two spots: Toy Jack Pot and Miss Claus. From the beginning we knew we were going to run these two spots on Spanish -and English-language television, so we made sure to have a more “relevant casting.” We also worked on unique original soundtracks that were produced for each language.

When you think about it, when you look at what defines people culturally, you will find music at the heart. So we thought it was important to have the original soundtrack for each, including a different voice-over."


Portada: How do you work with your different agencies?

David Salazar: "As you know, we work with several agencies (general market, Hispanic, African-American) and we have them collaborate in our advertising projects. I can tell you there is always, always input from our Hispanic agency [Long Beach, CA.-based Grupo Gallegos.]"


Portada: Is television still the strongest media for Target Corp.?

David Salazar: "Television is still very important to the Hispanic market; Hispanics spend a higher number of hours watching television, so it is a very important medium. However, they also seem to be adopting smart phones at a very high rate and using their smart phones to access the Internet. So mobile advertising will become increasingly important."


Portada: Do you do mobile advertising yet?

David Salazar: "We just launched an app for iPhone and Android platforms. The app is really cool: You can put your home store in there, so you will get messages in terms of special deals at your local store, and when you are in the store you can use the scan feature in your phone to get product information. Right now it is only available in English."


Portada: Target does not have stores in Latin America? Ever thought of expanding there?

David Salazar: "Our first foray international will be in Canada, where we just purchased 220 stores there. And we will concentrate on our move to Canada and make that a successful venture."


Portada: How does Target want to position itself in an increasingly multicultural country?

David Salazar: "What’s important for us is to stay true to the target brand equity; so we are not trying to become a Hispanic Target or an African-American Target. We have a higher brand equity with our Hispanic guest, so our branding and our messages have won her over, so that will continue to be our strategy."


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