Felipe Korzenny


Dr. Felipe Korzenny is a Hispanic and Multicultural Marketing Researcher and Analyst. He has been a market researcher and marketing consultant dedicated to the Latino market since the early 1980’s. Dr. Korzenny published “Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective” in 2005 and “Hispanic Marketing: Connecting with the New Latino Consumer in 2011. Marketing Trends in a New Multicultural Society is Dr. Felipe Korzenny´s blog.

Photo: Mikel Agirregabiria. CC.
Photo: Mikel Agirregabiria. CC.

I read in the Wall Street Journal (“The Delicate Protocol of Hugging: For fans of personal space, these are difficult times: America has become a nation of huggers” by Peggy Drexler, September 14 – 15, 2013) that hugs are an issue now in the United States as many more people hug than ever before.

My first reaction was that as tortillas overtake white bread and salsa overtakes ketchup, hugs overtake social distance.  Is this the Latino influence? Now the WSJ article talks about how to defend yourself from huggers. That is a serious departure from the nature of hugging in Latin America and other “hugging” regions of the world where the hugging is seen as a welcome sharing of human warmth and reassures people of their relationship.

When I was young, in high-school and then in college in Mexico, every day, I had to hug and kiss many women, which I thought was nice, and hugged many men as well, which I felt were my dear friends. It was routine, the business of social life.  You hug those you care for and those you want to keep as part of your circle of friends.  Also, it felt good. It was reassuring. I felt I belonged.

Hugging feels good.  It releases chemicals in our body that make us feel good. A most interesting substance is oxytocin which contributes to our social happiness and well being. It is known to be released when people touch and hug and helps people bond together.  Hispanics are good at this. I believe this is an important contribution that Latinos and other “hugging” people are making to US society.

Chipotle, mango, salsa, papaya, tortillas, cilantro, yuca, and many other flavors are clearly now part of the mainstream. Also, Latin music and architecture have become part of the American mainstream.

But that is only the part of the culture that is clearly observable.  What about the less observable parts of the culture?  What about the subjective culture composed of values, ideas, attitudes, and ways of thinking? Hugging is part of the subjective culture that is now influencing the United States. Subjective because it emanates from primitive impulses, beliefs, and values that take us back to our origins.

Marketers ought to consider that the most powerful insights come from those attitudes, beliefs, values, and perceptions that are transmitted via our cultural groups but that are hidden from view.

Hugging is visible, but not its motives and consequences. Touching produces a different social structure. Marketers can capitalize on those motivations and the effects of touching and hugging (haptics) by establishing connections associated with their brands.

Human contact feels good and makes people happy.  Clearly, it has to be appropriate, but Latin Americans don’t worry about that. They know when the toucher is a creep.  In low contact cultures any contact can be misinterpreted.  But in high contact cultures contact means care and affection. As we move into a more touch oriented society in the US, our ways of behaving, thinking, and feeling change as well.

Now that Latinos have influenced the US culture beyond imagination, it is not only with the material things of life where Hispanics are making a statement but also with emotions. While marketers have long thought that differences in culture are apparent in the numerous manifestations we observe, now we need to take notice of the more hidden aspects.

Marketers do not only capitalize on high contact cultures when understanding their motivations and bonding feelings, but they may now have a “total market” approach in their hands. Hugging will likely transcend cultural groups.

The author of the WSJ article was trying to help others with larger personal space needs to defend themselves from the rising tide of huggers. Well, another take on the trend is that it is good for you and potentially excellent for marketers who understand cultural patterns.

Let’s celebrate hugging and all that comes along with it.

Dr. Felipe Korzenny is a Hispanic and Multicultural Marketing Researcher and Analyst. He has been a market researcher and marketing consultant dedicated to the Latino market since the early 1980’s. Dr. Korzenny published “Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective” in 2005 and “Hispanic Marketing: Connecting with the New Latino Consumer in 2011. Marketing Trends in a New Multicultural Society is Dr. Felipe Korzenny´s blog.

dia.de.muertosLatino influence in the US keeps growing one cultural example at a time. The Wall Street Journal published on Friday November 1, 2013 an article entitled “No Bones About It, Day of the Dead Is Finding New Life.” The article talks about a trend among non-Hispanics, particularly in areas of heavy Latino presence like California and Texas, who now set up altars to their dead relatives in different locations. An interesting example is that of a non-Hispanic woman in Oceanside, California, who created an altar to her father in the trunk of his car.

I am surprised as I thought that this particular ritual would not transfer from the population of Mexican origin to non-Hispanics.

I had the impression that spiritual rituals tend to be more strongly culture bound and related to deeply ingrained beliefs and emotions. Emotions that are derived from people’s upbringing and sense of self.

But there it is! Not only has hugging become popular , but now more spiritually oriented beliefs are transcending their origin. The Day of the Dead celebrated on All Saints Day, has its roots in cultural beliefs that talk about the skies opening on that day so the souls of the dead pour back to earth to spend time with loved ones. Then, the loved ones left behind celebrate the life of the departed with lively parties at cemeteries, homes, and other locations.

In Google.com/trends one can see that the highest number of searches for both “dia de los muertos” and “day of the dead” happened in 2013 in the United States and that the States where those searches originated most prominently were California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Clearly these searches may have been originated mostly by Latinos, nevertheless, why would 2013 be the highest incidence year when immigration from Mexico and Latin America is lower than in many prior years? It is likely that these searches originate from many non-Hispanics who are embracing the celebration.

At the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University, where many of the students are non-Hispanic, Dr. Sindy Chapa erected an altar in the memory of her father as shown below.

Museums around the US have had exhibits of altars for dia de los muertos both to celebrate the culture and to show the folkways of mesoamerica. From Oakland, California, to El Paso, Texas, even to the Idaho Historical Society, museums have in one way or another presented exhibits to mark the celebration.

Skelita Calaveras the Monster High doll created for Dia de Los Muertos has been a great success for Mattel, and the doll has been searched by name extensively in US States with strong Latino presence.

As marketers realize the importance of Latinos to their bottom line, almost by accident they also educate the rest of the population about Latino cultural features.

What do all these stories and anecdotes tell us? As Hispanics acculturate they also spread the allure of their customs and beliefs.

Acculturation is a two way street in which we learn from each other and find aspects of the culture of others attractive and meaningful. When cultural influence goes beyond the material aspects to the intangible and spiritual, one witnesses a societal transformation that should make marketers think more about culture and the future of marketing.

People change positions, get promoted or move to other companies. Portada is here to tell you about it.

The Associated Press has named Ken Detlet as its new VP of Digital Advertising Strategy & Sales.  The new position has a strong emphasis on digital strategy.
Tim Luce will head a MLC Entertainment a new division of Media Latino Communications. The company also recently formed MLC Radio with the acquisition of  KBFW, an LMA in Fort Worth, TX, with more stations to be announced in the future. KBFW will now broadcast as MLC Network La Numero Uno. Pedro Gasc  been named General Manager of the station; he has over 20 years of experience in Hispanic Radio Management. In addition, MLC Entertainment recently opened a branch office in Ft. Worth, TX hiring Jessica Fuentes as its Affiliate Relations Director.
Myrna Cortez  has left the San Antonio Express News.
As we reported last week, Sindy Chapa will be the new  Director, Center for Hispanic Marketing  Communication at Florida State. Chapa tells Portada that “my position  will be Associate director as long as Felipe Korzenny stays at FSU – but I am Awaited Director  for the Center”. Chapa adds that it is an honor “to join the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University (FSU) and to have the opportunity to work with Felipe Korzenny. As a research oriented professional, and Latina woman, I have a genuine admiration for Korzenny’s work at the Center. This is one of the reasons why my main mission at the Center will be to keep Korzenny’s legacy on the study of Hispanic consumers alive and growing further. As for my personal contribution, I plan to establish and develop a research team that will further study Hispanics’ media habits and effective forms of communication. Therefore, my intent is to support and broaden the Center’s scientific contributions. These will aim at better understanding the Hispanic market in a way that can help us to develop resourceful data on Hispanic consumers, media and audiences. The Center’s main focus will be centered in supporting and promoting scholars, practitioners and government work and experiences to effectively connect with our Latinos communities.”

Get our e-letters packed with news and intelligence!