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November 06, 2011

BY Tony D'Andrea, PhD - Director of Research and Planning at The San Jose Group

In an effort to develop a stronger relationship with Hispanics, marketers have been expanding and more fully integrating their digital assets with marketing strategies. It is no longer about having a website showcasing product lines in Spanish, but in creating consumer communities based on a multi-functional digital platform. Brand loyalty is now driven by engagement as a direct goal or metric in digital strategies. In this wake, CPG food brands have been pioneers in integrating website, social media and mobile with richer content and user experience translating in call-to-action opportunities.

Forty million U.S. Hispanics will be actively engaged online by the mid-2010s. Latinos already overindex in a variety of online activities: creating social pages and blogs, posting comments, downloading video and music content, sending and receiving tweets, etc. Specifically, Latina moms are one of the most active groups online. But Latinos are largely underserved in terms of online options in Spanish. According to Mike Kolin, VP of Channel Strategy at The San Jose Group, “given than less than 20% of Latinos prefer to speak English at home, developing an online conversation in Spanish does provide a competitive advantage for marketers in the digital sphere.”

The rapid expansion of General Mills' Hispanic online initiatives successfully seeks to capitalize on these opportunities. Qué Vida Rica was created to become one of the best sources of food and lifestyle information for Latinas. A free quarterly magazine and rich website, it provides food information, recipes and coupons as well as expert advice on issues important to U.S. Hispanics: education, holiday, health, wellness and family. More recently, Qué Vida Rica also developed a free iPad application with over 900 recipes. As part of an integrated campaign, the digital platform is promoted along TV vignettes and celebrity chef appearances at Univision. As a result, double-digit sales growth has been registered by General Mills in the Hispanic segment.

Goya's digital platform is another interesting case. As one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S., Goya markets to both Hispanic and general market segments. Marketing execution differs because brand awareness and product familiarity differ along the consumer cycle of each segment. Hispanics are more knowledgeable about Goya's wide range of products, whereas product trial and education still need to be further developed in relation to general market segments. More recently, Goya has increased its digital presence by launching a mobile website with relevant content and purchase promotions. As results, although having no social media assets, Goya claims one million visitors to its website each month.

The digital presence of General Mills and Goya reflects their leadership at the retail level. While General Mills tops many categories, Goya is one of the few suppliers Wal-Mart allows to customize stocks at a local store level. Their online platforms are carefully aligned with their marketing and branding strategies both above and below the line. Given that Hispanics are holistic shoppers who balance price, loyalty and promotional opportunities while remaining open in conventional and digital media. As such, an integrated marketing approach with multiple touch points for information, engagement and interaction is ideally suited for this multicultural segment.

SJG is a leading independent multicultural marketing communications agency, celebrating 30 years helping brands connect with people. For more information on this article, please email sjgpr@sjadv.com or visit us at http://www.thesanjosegroup.com

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