Faced with mounting challenges to capture the Hispanic consumer in an environment that wasn’t fully committed to investing in Spanish-preferred audiences, Post Foods Brand Manager for U.S. Hispanics Mike Foley used three pillars to help drive Honey Bunches of Oats cereal forward – making it the No. 1 cereal above Kellogg and General Mills brands.
Speaking at a concluding Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference session Tuesday afternoon in Miami Beach, Foley asked his team at Post how to truly engage the Latina consumer.
The first pillar: Lead With Insights. “It seems so basic, yet it is always the one thing many companies skip,” Foley said. “A lot of it has to do with money.”
Companies that wish to engage Hispanic consumers should let their marketing teams secure a research budget, he said. This allowed Foley to examine Honey Bunches of Oats’ barriers to entry with Latino consumers, review its brand positioning strategy from a quantitative and qualitative point of view, and determine its future competitive edge. “We moved from looking at acculturation to looking at archetypes,” he remarked.
New York-based agency MV42 was brought in to guide Foley and the Post team, leading the cereal maker to its second pillar: Stay Culturally Relevant and Innovative. A product placement agreement with Telemundo was reached that brought Honey Bunches of Oats into the homes of viewers of the network’s morning television show Levántate.
Early results were stunning, leading Post to increase its budget by 30% in its first year. The next effort saw the signing of Telemundo soap star and recording artist JenCarlos as a celebrity spokesperson, his picture imprinted on 4 million boxes of cereal distributed across the U.S., bringing bilingual packaging to the total market.
MV42 executive vice president Steven Wolfe Pereira offered the third pillar: Know Your Brand. He noted, “Innovation just doesn’t have to be around content. It could be about product. For the first time ever Post put a Latino on the cover of a cereal box. It took a leap of faith, and convincing the president to do it.”
The moves paid off: With Honey Bunches of Oats reaching No. 1 in cereal, Post Foods took dollars away from the total market to help fuel the Hispanic growth engine. “People talk about it … they actually did it,” Pereira said.
In a morning session, the message to CMOs and brand stewards was straightforward and purposeful: A simple, clear strategy for developing a clear internal understanding of a company’s multicultural marketing efforts is the best way to get executives to comprehend the importance of these initiatives – and get their hearts into it.
At MillerCoors, the strategy employed by vice president of multicultural marketing Alpesh Patel is to embed the multicultural plan across all levels and then “dumb it down and simplify it, so people ‘get it’ and embrace it.”
At the brewing company, “implications” are measured as the result of consumption plus shopper occasions, he said. With social occasions “core to drinking” with Hispanic consumers, Miller Lite and Coors Light each engaged in live events and performances and sports properties to best connect with Hispanic males. With Miller, it was partnering with beloved first-division Mexican League soccer club Chivas de Guadalajara. The Coors Light brand was tied to the entire Federación (FMF). This helped to bring both beer brands to the consumer at every touchpoint, Patel said.
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