Planning to Market to Hispanic Consumers?

Planning to Market to Hispanic Consumers? By Melissa Adams

On Thursday, July 19, 2012 I attended the 16th Annual Hispanic Marketing Conference. The event took place at the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce Center and it was another wonderful event produced by Aguilar Productions.

“Richard Aguilar is President/CEO of Aguilar Productions, Inc. based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Aguilar Productions is the leader in promoting the U.S. Emerging markets to Corporate America, producing marketing conferences and special events with a focus on the Hispanic, Asian-American, African-American, U.S. Emerging African and the LGBT markets”(Aguilar Productions).

As an entrepreneur, I like to stay abreast of the latest trends and this conference was another great opportunity to do that. As I mentioned in my post How to Start Your Own Business,I want to help entrepreneurs learn about business and how they can make their business ideas a reality.

In my opinion marketing is a very important component when it comes to your business. So follow this blog, and I will try to keep you informed by offering you my insight. I consider myself a Life Long Learner and as I learn new concepts and techniques I will pass them on to you. The next few blogs will be a series on the speakers at the Hispanic Marketing Conference and their messages. I will try to show you how to apply their methods. I hope you enjoy Planning to Market to Hispanic Consumers?

Will a change in the Hispanic population change the way you market your product?

Should a company contract interpreters or hire bi-lingual employees to deal with its Hispanic consumers?

These questions illustrate the decisions that an Entrepreneur often faces. The business environment(marketplace) is constantly changing as an effect of emerging consumer expectations, technological advances, growing competition, economic up’s and downs, and political-legal events. Although the causes of these changes often are external and are outside of our control, effective planning can anticipate change. I define planning as the difference between success and failure.

This Post as well as the others in this series will provide a foundation for all past post, by demonstrating the necessity for effective planning and gathering reliable information. So it doesn’t matter if your target consumer is Hispanic or not, take these tips and apply them to your target market. These tips provide a structure, within which, an Entrepreneur can take advantage of its firm’s unique strengths.

According to Boone and Kurtz “[m]arketing planning specifies both the specific target markets that the firm will serve and the most appropriate marketing mix to satisfy those markets.” So before I go further and tell you what I learned at the conference I need to briefly explain “Marketing Mix”.

What is Marketing Mix? 

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The first speaker at the 16th Annual Hispanic Marketing Conference was:

Cynthia C. Messer

Ms. Messer’s areas of specialization are in community tourism development, sustainable tourism and quality customer service. She has more than 30 years of tourism education and industry experience. Ms. Messer is currently an Extension Professor at the University of Minnesota and she holds an, M.A. in Education and Human Development, from George Washington University, as well as a B.A. in History, from the University of California.

I really enjoyed Ms. Messer’s presentation, she started by saying if we plan to market to Hispanic customers we must add customer service to our marketing mix. In fact we should add customer service to our marketing mix no matter who we want to attract to our business.

Ms. Messer offered the audience a brief look into how customers judge service. Her theory is based on the research findings of two Associate Professors of Marketing (A. Parasuraman and Valarie A. Zeithaml) and a Professor of Retailing and Marketing-Leonard L. Berry. The three professors conducted a research study and published the findings in A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and Its Implications for Future Research.

“A set of key discrepancies or gaps exists regarding executive perceptions of service quality and the task associated with service delivery to consumers” (Zeithaml, Parasuraman, and Berry 1985). Simply put business leaders are often seeing the glass as half full when it comes to customer service and customers are seeing the glass as half empty. A great example of this is businesses that have the motto “the customer is always right” yet the employees and staff are not accommodating and have no flexibility. They always say “I’ll have to ask my supervisor” when a customer makes a complaint and ask for something outside of the usual.

Ms. Messer offered us five areas that every customer focuses on when they use a business and/or its services. The RATER system can help you focus on the things your customers are looking at. Keep in mind this is not the total list and that each customer has an individual personality.

R=Reliability Involves consistency of performance and Dependability.

A=Assurance Involves whether your employees, will be Polite and respectful. Will they show consideration, and friendliness?

T=Tangibles include the physical evidence of the service

E=Empathy How well do they know my needs, wants and expectations

R=Responsiveness concerns the willingness or readiness of employees to provide service. It also involves timeliness of service.

According to Ms. Messer many customers use word of mouth. The problem with word of mouth is most customers use word of mouth twice as much when they have had a bad experience and have something bad to say. I recently posted a blog about my dislike for the airlines titled I Was Bullied by the Airport. I wanted to call it something other than bullying but I promised not to swear in my post.

How many times have you had a bad experience with a business and you couldn’t stop talking about it? After looking at the RATER system it’s easy to see customers can be pretty judgmental.

Well if you’re planning to market to the Hispanic community your Front Line staff should be offering customer service that exceeds the expectations of your customers. As a business owner you need to know what it is your customers are expecting.

If your company is advertising in a Hispanic publication and you are offering products to the Hispanic community your staff should be welcoming to patrons from the Hispanic community. That can be said for any group you are trying to market your products to. If you learn what the customers’ expectations are and you exceed them you are truly in business.

What I took away from Ms. Messer’s message was that Business Development is clearly linked to Professional development training of employees in the areas of diversity and inclusion.

I totally agree with Ms. Messer, although, I must say I am a bit biased, because my firm Stanton Adams Consulting offers Business Development and Professional Development Services.

Ms. Messer posed some great question to the conference goers and I will pose them to you, my readers tell me what you think:

How do we integrate diversity and how do we get our staff to understand that?

What do they need to know about the community their serving?

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