February 06, 2014

According to Linda Lane Gonzales, minorities in the U.S. are rapidly advancing into the majority position, becoming the new mainstream. “Hispanics and other ethnic groups make up 41 percent of the population,” she says. “This will grow to over 50 percent by mid-century. Yesterday’s Multi-cultural segments are today’s General Market.”

Gonzalez should know. As president of viva partnership, a multicultural-focused marketing agency and the recently announced Chair Elect for AHAA, she has her finger firmly pressed against the pulse of today’s fast changing marketplace.  AHAA, long known as the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, is now expanding its focus to include the Total Market, reflecting the demographic shifts of the last decade. 

“The starting point for any marketing begins with the audience,” says Gonzalez. “Total Market, or TM, bridges the relevancy gap by leveraging universal commonalities and truths that span all segments while honoring cultural and lifestyle differences.”

A quick snapshot of the diversity market shows that nearly one million immigrants enter the US annually, with each culture bringing behaviors and values from their homeland.  Even if immigration slows, the birth rate for minority populations now surpasses that of the General Market, reaching 50.4 percent of births in 2011.  It’s easy to see why the “new normal” in the U.S. is a colorful mosaic of ethnicities and diversity groups.  

 “The rapidly growing minority-majority is an opportunity most brands recognize and want to engage with,” she says. “But very few know how to do this effectively. Today’s brands are challenged by how to connect and interact with America’s evolving marketplace. I am excited to participate in the Total Market studies, and look forward to exploring the answers as part of AHHA’s leadership team.”

Findings from the preliminary report, released in November 2013, show the following broad trends regarding the Total Market ™ approach:

• Total Market (TM) is “predominately driven by messaging, media and bottom line efficiencies.”

• While 54% of brands use some version of TM, and 78% of advertisers are familiar with the term, there’s a lack of clarity and uniform understanding of what TM is.

• Total Market has the potential to be a more inclusive way to communicate a brand’s message to the increasingly diverse consumer community.
• TM originates with the brand rather than the agency;

• It defines a highly integrated effort that involves everything from hiring across the spectrum of diversity to developing ethnicity-specific products and services that may also appeal to a broader audience.

• TM does not mean creating a single message that works for everyone.  Rather, it means leading with consumer insights to develop brand stories that address our commonalities, yet contain relevancy for distinct cultures.

• Storylines are inclusive of Caucasian, Hispanic, African American Asian American and LGBT and employ the cultural cues and elements derived from the experiences of all the diversity groups.   

“What an interesting and dynamic time to be involved in our industry,” says Gonzalez. “Firms that have been engaged in Multicultural marketing will have an edge because ethnic insights are beginning to feed the core of many brands and continued change within the marketplace is imminent.   Going forward, conversations about how brands define this new marketplace will be upstaged by conversations about how the new American marketplace will define brands.”

During her term as Chair Elect, she will serve beside Aldo Quevedo, the current Chair, helping advance AHAA’s vision and goals.  At the end of Mr. Quevedo’s two-year term in 2016, she will take the gavel as Chair. In addition to her duties as Chair Elect, Linda will spearhead AHAA’s annual conference, “Thinking Under the Influence---The Next Five Years”, serving as chairman for the third consecutive year.


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