SearsLatino embraces Cultural Variations in Mexico and the US.

Oscar Castro
Director/General Manager, International eCommerce & Multichannel Integration
Sears Holdings Corp.

Oscar Castro is responsible for developing Sears’ online business globally. In an interview with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin, he spoke about differences between Sears’ US Hispanic consumer base and consumers in Mexico, and talked about SearsLatino, the retail giant’s Hispanic-focused social media community.

eMarketer: US Hispanics and internet users in Mexico both overindex when it comes to social media usage. How is Sears’ online audience in Mexico different from the audience in the US Hispanic market? And what are some unexpected similarities?

Oscar Castro: We see very similar interactions and engagement between our US Hispanic fans and our fans in Mexico. There is cultural similarity between the two groups, which is part of the reason why we designed our SearsLatino social media program to address both groups. While we do not pursue a “one size fits all” approach, we do believe that we can embrace cultural similarities and leverage nuances to create an engaging forum. This leads to a very robust dialogue among our diverse Latino fan base.

eMarketer: US Hispanics aren’t monolithic, although 63% of the group traces its ancestry to Mexico. How do you address cultural nuances when targeting US Hispanics? And what best practices have you learned that can be applied to campaigns in other Spanish-speaking markets?

“Latinos have different language preferences as well as different countries of origin. This diversity represents both a challenge and an opportunity.”

Castro: We fully understand and appreciate that the Latino (or Hispanic) market is not homogeneous. Latinos have different language preferences as well as different countries of origin. This diversity represents both a challenge and an opportunity. With SearsLatino, we didn’t want to simply create a Spanish-language forum—instead our goal is to create a community that is relevant to all Latinos.

We want to interact with Latinos whether they prefer English or Spanish, and also regardless of whether they live in the U.S. or abroad. We want to leverage that diversity to create interesting conversations. Our conversations are both in English and Spanish, and the topics vary to ensure cultural relevance for all Latinos.

eMarketer: How does Sears organize its digital efforts in Spanish? Do you have a team that manages several country pages—i.e., US Hispanics, Puerto Rico, Mexico, etc.? Or do you have specialized teams for each market?

Castro: We decided to build one central forum, SearsLatino, to engage all of our Latino fans and friends. We believe this can lead to a much more robust and engaging dialogue, as opposed to having more limited conversations with individual segments of the Latino market. The differences among the segments actually represent an opportunity for sharing, educating and engaging more people.

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