Though we live in the most technologically advanced digital age with information about anything you can imagine readily available at our finger tips it is ironic that the greatest problem Latinos face today is lack of quality information. The lack of quality information is a layered issue. Lack of quality information is a direct result of lack of quality content. There is a lack of quality content because there is a lack of Latino voices that don’t have the platform to disseminate great content. But as a Media Post article keenly pointed out, “To reach the digital Hispanic today, you need a variety of content and voices.”¹ Once there is said variety in content and voices, brands will have more success in engaging and creating relationships with Latinos and our perception in mainstream media will become nuanced and multidimensional because to understand such a diverse culture you need diverse viewpoints.
Presently, what you can find are a plethora of do’s and don’t for creating content geared towards the Latino segment, articles calling upon brands to begin targeting this segment because of the lucrative opportunities, and sincere attempts to create content for the overwhelmingly diverse 56 million plus Latinos. The content marketing articles that are found are all variations of the same thing and some even contradict each other. I think part of the problem brands have in creating content for a Latino audience is that they are much too focused on which language, how connected we are on mobile and how we over-index on video consumption, what country of origin Latinos are from, and the economic opportunity; in short the abstract part: data. Data is very important and it’s one way of looking at a marketing segment but there needs to be a more concrete component to engaging Latinos and creating content for this segment. Amid all this sea of data marketers forget Latinos are humans with needs. Because Latinos are humans with needs, marketers should strive to connect with Latinos on a human level and through their culture.
The Most Pressing Problem In Marketing Today
The American Marketing Association published an article titled, “7 Big Problems in the Marketing Industry” delineating the seven biggest problems in marketing today. Among the seven problems, generating and shaping consumer insight, was identified as marketer’s most perplexing problem. More specifically, getting into the consumer’s mind and understanding the user experience they want from brands is among marketing’s greatest mysteries according to the article. Our society has become so advanced that quantifying everything has becoming easy which has allowed for the collection and accumulation of data as well as over-reliance on said data. But what hasn’t kept up with the rapid proliferation of data is extracting insight from data which is everything. The article is keen to point out that, “An argument could be made that while our data and knowledge are rapidly growing, our actual insight is not.” What good is having all the data in world if marketers can’t extract anything insightful?
Furthermore, it is this problem of having all the data in the world about a given marketing segment without having the insight to intelligently apply it when crafting a marketing strategy is precisely the problem that befalls and persists in Hispanic marketing. The person who is able to extract insight from the many reports available about Latinos and have tangible results will be in very high demand. There are countless of reports delineating the economic opportunity of targeting this segment, what digital channel to use when reaching them, language preferences, shopping habits, and somehow most brands big and small fail. Why? Because the data available is incompatible with what marketers think Latinos want, need, and are. The perception marketers have of Latinos is what nullifies whatever good data they may find. Perhaps the enormity and diversity of our community overwhelms even the most seasoned marketer or it is difficult to un-see Latinos beyond the stereotypes. Think about it: statistically speaking your average Latino is a millennial aged 28, U.S. born, bilingual, Mexican, and 2nd generation. But marketers still harbor Latino stereotypes like if the data that doesn’t overwhelmingly disprove said stereotypes doesn’t exist. What is a marketer to do?
Strike a balance between the abstract (data) and concrete (listening to consumers). Marketers have great data available but they must reevaluate what they think they know about Latinos in order to have any success. Marketers have to listen to who Latinos say they are. It is the concrete, human aspect of marketing that proves to be a great challenge for marketers but opportunity for influencers to collaborate with marketers to serve as curators of Latino culture and liaisons between brands and Latino consumers. Gary Vaynerchuk offers fantastic advice for brands that could prove revolutionary to content creation if only this approach was applied by marketers when targeting the Latino consumer.
How Does One Create Quality Content?
I follow Gary Vaynerchuk. I find myself nodding ‘yes’ to a number of the things that come out of this man’s mouth. Vaynerchuk has that rare quality we call ‘insight’; he just ‘gets it’. I’ve found Vaynerchuk’s advice incredibly insightful and wish marketers who target Latinos followed his advice when devising and executing a content strategy. Vaynerchuk’s marketing philosophy involves three aspects:
- Adding value
- Building relationships with consumers
Vaynerchuk’s philosophy is the more concrete, human approach that Hispanic marketing is desperately missing. Marketers have forgotten that Latinos are humans with needs and desire to engage brands or social influencers to learn more about the product they are buying or problem they are wanting to solve. I’ve found that the greatest thing missing in the content that’s created for Latinos is that they don’t add value. What does that mean exactly? I mean that most of the content produced for Latinos for the most part isn’t useful, empowering, practical, insightful, or help solve any problem.
Latino creators have unique stories to tell which in collaboration with brands can make inroads with the Latino consumer. If marketers sourced or groomed Latino storytellers or influencers that have the ability to engage and connect with Latino consumers on a human level and collaborated with said influencer to create quality, insightful content that added value and solved needs building relationships with Latinos would naturally follow. When marketing to Latinos, meeting needs or adding value should be the first thing marketers strive to do when targeting Latinos. Only marketers don’t do this. What they do is create a translated Spanish version or partner with digital platforms that apparently have millions of Latino subscribers but produce mind numbing, mildly entertaining content or give us a tiny corner in the digital media landscape instead of allowing us a space on the general/mainstream platform.
Quality Content > Quantity of Followers
Vaynerchuk wrote an article titled, ‘Numbers Don’t Matter, Influence Does’ where he explains that brands place too much emphasis on follower counts and impressions and not nearly enough on how much value content pieces create for the consumer. He concludes, “Reach does not equal value and follower count doesn’t mean people are listening. We need to stop focusing on optimizing the number of views and instead concentrate on making each one of those viewers care about your brand. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the only way you’ll drive results to your end goal.” This is the key to actually making inroads with Latinos and effectively tapping into the $1.5 trillion purchasing power. Instead of wanting to focus on Latinos because of their purchasing power, focus on Latinos because you have content or a product that can make their lives better or solve a problem.
The closures of NBC Latino and CNN Latino are proof that wanting a slice of the $1.5 trillion pie for the sake of money will always fail. Both studios failed to “meet business expectations” because quality content wasn’t there which didn’t attract Latino viewers. Univision’s and ABC News’ (Disney) baby, Fusion, has struggled to draw an audience since its inception so much so that Disney pulled out of the joint venture and put its money ($200 million) behind Vice leaving Univision to create Fusion Media Group. Why? Because Fusion is just the continuing narrative of Univison and Jorge Ramos in English; it isn’t talking about anything new or informing anyone of anything Vice isn’t already covering in an intellectually stimulating way.
Mitú, a media company specializing in content geared towards Latino youth, “is focused on creating compelling content and experiences for Latino youth, in English, that is unapologetically Latino with universal appeal” and bills itself as “the voice of young Latinos.” The voice? That’s a bold statement considering that it has a very similar look and feel as Univision’s Fusion. Using the article “the” denotes and emphasizes that Mitú believes it is the consummate voice of young Latinos…only I don’t think it is because like Fusion the content being produced isn’t something that hasn’t been done before or novel. On both sites I see telenovela memes, “super sexy” Latino men, the Kardashians (why do these people need to even be given more attention on our media spaces!?!?), and a look on Mitú’s YouTube channel, We Are Mitú, shows way too many cholos for my taste. What’s wrong with telenovelas, cholos, and “super sexy” Latino men? They are trite stereotypes that have been used to demean Latino worth. The usage of said stereotypes appear lazy; it’s like innovating fresh Latino content just isn’t feasible so stereotypes are the crutch of choice. Sure, Mitú has raised $27 million in Series C funding from WPP Digital, Verizon, and Awesomeness TV earlier this year in addition to the investment Upfront Ventures has already made and what investor wouldn’t in with the stats pitched?
•2 billion monthly global video views across platforms including Facebook and YouTube
•a network of 7,000+ Latino creators
•the largest global digital reach of any company targeting young Latinos
•Latinos represent 24% of millennials in the U.S., and that’s “why we think of this demo not as a niche but as a part of the mainstream,” according to Mitú CEO Roy Burstin
Add to that the United States is increasingly becoming more multicultural, $1.5 trillion Latino purchasing power, and Latinos comprising 30% of the total U.S. population in the future and you have investors excited out of their minds. We’ve moved on from “Why you should invest in Latinos” as the data speaks for itself but now we are stuck in “How to effectively target and engage Latinos in the present and long-term.” Not being able to answer this part or execute this part is what stops the investment, dashes investor’s expectations, and a trip back to square one. Investors and most marketers think that influencers with the most followers or the biggest networks with the most creators will guarantee a good ROI and they would be right…half right. So many Latino platforms are doing similar things and not really touching a nerve among Latinos of any age or acculturation level. The tipping point in Hispanic Marketing is now a matter of targeting Latinos via the creation and publication of great content that no one else is doing as well as using said content to foster strong relationships. It’s about publishing content that educates, edifies, empowers, and entertains in an unorthodox way.
Flama, Mitú, and Fusion are all attempts at answering the question “What type of content is out there for Latino youth” but more can be done to push the envelope to really create outstanding content never before published for Latinos.
Who Gets It Right
I found Target’s “Lúcete A Tu Manera” campaign to be an absolute success. A constant complaint among Afro-Latinos is that Latinos don’t include them as ‘true’ Latinos or view them as less Latino but Target did a great job making them and a whole diverse range of other Latinos central to the campaign. The diversity I saw in age, skin tone, and body type in this campaign was amazing. A great part of the campaign was how Target engaged fellow Latino shoppers highlighting how they show off with Target products and incorporated them into one of the four campaigns. I even saw the campaign air in English language TV which made me absolutely happy because Target understands that Latinos watch both English and Spanish TV!
“Lucete a tu manera” translates to “show off your way” and I would’ve liked Target to continue this narrative in social media by collaborating with Latino influencers to teach shoppers all the great products Target has to enable them to show off and live their best. I would’ve wanted a curated Target product list with influencers guiding me in how to make the most out of each product. At any rate, I see Target as the gold standard of Hispanic advertising and a great example for other brands to follow.
General Mills Cheerios:
Cheerio’s “Bilingüe” campaign highlights how being bilingual is beneficial just like eating heart healthy, cholesterol reducing Cheerios. I agree however I thought about how in Spanish networks you don’t see Cheerios advertise their gluten-free version which is unfortunate because Cheerios could be a pioneer in this field among Latinos and be the first major brand to teach them about what gluten is, what it does, and the benefits of going gluten free. Both sides of my families have digestive issues exacerbated by gluten and I’m sure we aren’t the only ones. If Cheerios teaches Latinos about what it means for a product to be gluten free, because their name carries such weight they can open doors to a whole host of companies that specialize in gluten free and natural products resulting in a much-needed health reform among Latinos that can combat our diabetes and obesity epidemics!
Target and Cheerios have golden opportunities to up their game and deepen their relationship with Latinos by creating informative content that can teach and reform in collaboration with key Latino influencers that have established or have the potential to establish rapport and trust with Latino consumers.
Latinos are voraciously looking for information on the Internet and there simply isn’t enough influencers and content to meet this demand. comScore’s rankings reveal that the top 10 most visited sites are as follows²:
- Google Sites
- Microsoft Sites
- Yahoo Sites
- Amazon Sites
- AOL, Inc.
- Mode Media
- Apple Inc.
- Comcast NBCUniversal
- Wikimedia Foundation Sites
Having Google and Wikimedia sites on the list means Latinos are searching for information. Are brands making culturally relevant information readily available? The appearance of Mode Media and Comcast Universal showcases how Latinos are consuming curated, quality content. Are content creators keeping up with this demand?
Being able to curate information and having influencers that have an intimate knowledge of what your target audience wants and readily connect with them is the basis for producing great content. Latinos today just don’t want to see cholos, telenovelas, and the like but rather listen to a range of Latino voices and consume content that enable them to be smarter, healthier, and more knowledgeable.