Hispanic Shopper Marketing Today: Data-Driven Value through Mobile, Coupons

The traditional approach to Hispanic shopper marketing has been turned on its head as the demographic has taken on the role of a “new majority” within the United States. Similarly, the rise of data analytics has created an unprecedented number of ways to target. As Hispanics have continued to over-index in almost every category, it has never been more important to reach this varied consumer base.

We spoke to Sandra Alvidrez, Director of Sales for Hoy Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Times Media Group, and a selection of the team at media and communications agency Butler/Till: Mike Davis, Director of Digital Media, Jill Curry, Associate Media Director for Direct Response, George Heisenberger, Senior Agent for Experience Management, and Carrie Riby, Strategic Planning Director, to get a better grasp on what effective Hispanic shopper marketing looks like today.

The Data Transformation

Data, both “big” and “small,” has turned Hispanic shopper marketing into a multi-layered practice in analytics and segmentation. The trials and tribulations of targeting this huge demographic are something that both agency Butler/Till and the Los Angeles Times Media Group know well: the former counts major Auto Insurance, Telecom and Financial companies and institutions among its clients, and the latter manages a portfolio that includes The Los Angeles Times, Hoy and six Times Community Newspapers across California.

The team at Butler/Till
The team at Butler/Till

Butler/Till’s Director of Digital Media Mike Davis summed it up: “There’s so much data out there that it’s provided an unprecedented number of ways to target.” Director of Sales at Hoy Sandra Alvidrez echoed that sentiment, arguing that thanks to data, “targeting to Latinos is limitless and has evolved into a science of sorts, all due to advancement of analytics.”

Before, Davis admitted, targeting efforts were often informed by “an educated guess” and census data, now replaced by geographic data, demographics, behavioral psychographics and first-party data. Alvidrez added that data has also “contributed to the development of new media placement offerings for marketers to take advantage of,” opening up a whole new avenue for brands looking to micro target Hispanics.

More than anything, data has revealed just how complex Hispanics are, and that marketers need to “dig deeper and reach Latinos at a granular level.” With data, brands have no excuse not to incorporate complex, varying layers of targeting into their marketing strategies, and making the effort to segment audiences into their sub-groups “allows us to be much more efficient, from a digital perspective, in targeting and optimizing,” Butler Till’s Senior Agent for Experience Management George Heisenberger said.

The key to success in Hispanic shopper marketing is participating in “multiple conversations with multiple Latino consumers groups,” Alvidrez explained. In the case of print media publishers like the Los Angeles Times Media Group, Alvidrez highlights that data allows them to “deliver advertisers the option to target Latino households solely around their brick and mortar locations or specific geographic areas, down to the zip code or give them a broad reach of strong Hispanic areas through-out Southern California, to the border towns of Mexico, Tijuana and Mexicali – where many residents enter the U.S. for the primary purpose of shopping.”

Data Is Black and White, but People Are Not

But there are limitations to data. Jill Curry, Associate Media Director for Direct Response at Butler/Till pointed out that “data tends to be very black and white. People are not.” While data can be “used directionally to figure out where to start with the campaign, you need to add insights by continually testing on creative, segments, to make sure that data holds true, and that if there are changes, those tests will catch everything and give the client the response level they want.”

When data works, it’s almost like magic. But when it doesn’t, or when it leads to messaging or an offering that people don’t respond to as hoped, it won’t tell you why it misled you. “It’s not going to tell you everything you need to know,” said Curry.

The New Challenge: Engaging English-Dominant and Bilingual Hispanics

One of the segments within Hispanic consumers that data has made more accessible is the English-dominant/bilingual shopper. Spanish-dominant Hispanics are a different animal than the younger, English-dominant or bilingual crowd, and finding ways to engage them as a unique demographic has been an important challenge for the industry.

Alvidrez explained: “English-dominant Latinos were thought to be automatically reached via general market campaigns. The criteria of gender, age, fluency in English, bilingual, bicultural, immigrant or native born – was out of reach for many traditional media companies and marketers.”

Sandra Alvidrez, Director of National Sales, Hoy
Sandra Alvidrez, Director of National Sales, Hoy

Alvidrez asserted that the industry must meet the challenge to “continue to explore ideas and concepts that reach this elusive consumer in meaningful ways.”

Example A: Four years ago, Hoy crafted a creative strategy: reaching Spanish-dominant consumers with its core products, and English-dominant Hispanics with its sister-general market properties. But the challenge was reaching that bicultural and bilingual Latino that fit into neither of those categories. After researching, Hoy launched the Latinos de Hoy Awards and Gala, their annual celebration of Latino culture and community.

“The majority of the awards presentation is in English, and the talent is a diverse mix of successful artists from Latin America and the United States. With the support of our sister-publication, the Los Angeles Times, we’ve outgrown from our humble beginnings at our downtown Los Angeles building and we now hold the event at the Dolby Theater, home of the Academy Awards. Latinos de Hoy and other similar offerings, has really elevated our conversation with both consumers and marketers,” she explained.

Strategic Planning Director at Butler/Till Carrie Riby highlighted that marketers need to consider the “total market,” crafting messages that resonate across different demographics while speaking to each individually: “We need to embrace a more universal cross-cultural theme within all advertising. We need to reinforce that we are addressing their values, and that we want to take care of the Hispanic community.”

Hispanics Are Varied, but Demonstrate Clear Patterns 

While data has generated a more nuanced view of today’s different Hispanics, certain trends, like mobile and coupon use, and the effectiveness of free-standing inserts, hold strong.

Hispanics out-index their general market counterparts in terms of mobile, and spend more on shopping trips. And a Valassis study found that 92 percent of Hispanics, versus 90 percent of the general population, use coupons. The same study found that 37 percent increased their use of mobile devices for securing coupons and deals since last year, compared to 28 percent of all respondents; 81 percent decide where to shop based on paperless discounts delivered via mobile devices, versus 66 percent of all respondents; 67 percent search for mobile discounts while shopping in-store, compared to 46 percent of all respondents; and 67 percent switched brands due to mobile discounts while shopping in-store, compared to 50 percent of all respondents.

All of this means that “marketers who are already taking advantage of mobile coupons are smart to engage with this audience via their mobile devices and provide them with an option that they can access while at the point of transaction,” Alvidrez explained. “Combining this with the effectiveness of a physical coupon found in a free-standing insert, that can be cut out and saved for later, can only compliment and increase ROI.”

Alvidrez affirmed that free-standing inserts and coupons continue to be an effective way to reach the Latino consumer, specifically for CPGs and retailers, regardless of language preference. Butler/Till also uses coupons regularly, but Davis warned that “in regards to coupons specifically, they do well, but it depends on the offer, not the medium. The consumer needs to feel that it’s a good benefit.” The key is to pull those layers, nuances and backgrounds together to “put the total puzzle together,” Heisenberger said.

Alvidrez maintains that in the end, it’s all about value. Latinos “continue to seek value when it comes to the purchases they are making, without compromising quality. Hispanic millennials are showing the same trajectory as well.”