What does organization and infrastructure readiness and strategic integration have to do with building your brand in the Hispanic market?
This is a question I often hear from marketers who have decided to start marketing to U.S. Hispanics. It usually comes from the assumption that in order to reach Hispanics, one needs only to create a relevant message and send it through relevant channels or start a diversity program. Sounds easy enough, but the line of disenchanted marketers who have gone this route only to discover it’s not quite so simple, is a long one. Have you found yourself in that line?
The Expansion Parallel
Think about it. If you were charged with expansion to those highly coveted BRIC countries: China, or Brazil, or Canada or Russia, would it be as simple as “creating a relevant message and sending it through relevant channels or starting a diversity program?” More likely, there would be a due diligence process to understand all sorts of political, economic, social, cultural, industry and consumer behavior factors.
These factors would help you assess the risks and the upside opportunity of the investment. This due diligence process would give your company a gauge for the size of the required investment now and in the long-term. The approach to expand into another country is typically preceded with serious planning and decision making. It is usually not approached in a tentative manner or by taking “baby steps.”
Do the Numbers Support Domestic Expansion?
I’ve recently done consulted for two Germany based multinationals which have been extremely excited with U.S. Hispanic population numbers. To quote one of the CEOs, “this is very exciting for us because just in Los Angeles there are over five million Hispanics – that the size of a small European country and that’s very attractive.”
We all know the numbers; 50+ million Hispanics, a population bigger than Canada, any country in Latin America and Spain (Except Brazil and Mexico) and larger than ALL but six nations in Europe. A virtual economic powerhouse given that by 2015, the US Hispanic market is projected to be the 9th largest economy in the world. Such a significant economic opportunity anywhere else in the world would send CEOs running to define a growth strategy. And as I’ve recently experienced, European CEOs are doing just that – here – in the U.S. What do they know that US corporations have yet to realize?
Companywide Investment in Growth
Let’s get back to our expansion example. After decides to expand into a new country, a high level leadership team is assigned to lead setting up shop in the new country. This will likely include an operations unit that may include a headquarter office with a sales and marketing team, a manufacturing and distribution facility. It could include a customer service facility and functional infrastructure.
The company moves a few high-level employees to lead the hiring in the expansion area. U.S. employees are trained on how to do business in that country. Those in charge of sales learn sales protocols, those in charge of marketing are trained on the culture and consumer behavior. The team is indoctrinated on the company’s mission, goal, strategies and tactics for that country and how this subsidiary is expected to contribute to the company’s global financial goals. In short, everyone involved would be in sync with objectives and strategies to achieving them.
U.S. Hispanics Market Strategy
In the above analogy, it’s a wonder that U.S. companies still wonder, “What does due diligence, business strategy, organization and infrastructure have to do with building my brand in market “x?” The logic that a company needs to “just start reaching out to Hispanics with a relevant message through relevant channels or just start hiring more of them” is quite simply, flawed.
I think we could all agree, that in a “country” that is over 50 million people strong, “expanding” into the U.S. Hispanic market through tactical marketing efforts won’t produce the type of business results, the U.S. Hispanic market has the potential to deliver.
By Terry J. Soto, Author of “Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative” and President & CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc. a strategy consulting company providing transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for profitable and enduring total market success.