Marketers chatting up the "total market" concept as it applies to multicultural marketing have been ignoring the elephant in the room, namely the role of shopper marketing and how that is evolving. Ironically, despite the trends that are reshaping ethnic purchase patterns, brands continue to rely on outdated "one size fits all" shopper marketing models. In reality, it's customized targeting that consistently scores with Hispanic shoppers.
I like to equate the unifying concept at the heart of total market with that of kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. Kaizen informed Toyota's success with total quality management (TQM) driven manufacturing. TQM is the next big thing for multicultural marketing, because of how remarkable it can be in uncovering inefficiencies — e.g., helping to ward off the proverbial death by a thousand cuts that would otherwise occur when marketers too finely slice and dice ethnic markets. TQM reveals what works.
In developing shopper plans, marketers can find the array of tactics available at each phase of the purchase cycle (pre-store, in-store, post-store) to be quite daunting. But a total market solution actually makes the process easier by paring away the extraneous and focusing on the basics. It all starts in an intimate acquaintance with (1) the retailer's Hispanic strategy, (2) the shopper's behavior, and (3) the brand's goal. Doing that deep dive and then understanding those competing elements never fails to produce surprises.
For example, working with blue chip brands taught me that your analysis must answer a simple strategic question: Are you designing for convergence or divergence? You must peel the onion to reconcile your Hispanic shopper with the Hispanic retail environment. This, in turn, leads to other questions, to wit: What do your Hispanic syndicated data really reveal? What do your independent Hispanic retailer data tell you? What does your distribution look like? Should you reconsider your merchandising and pricing? Which Hispanic occasions are you missing? What does your Hispanic basket look like? Oh yes: What does your Hispanic account calendar show? Solving these riddles is just the first step in determining the type of total market shopper solution you should bring to the table.
If you are leaning toward so-called "convergent shopper solutions," look no further than cross-cultural shopper programs that feature a shared platform and incentives. Coke's Cinco de Mayo shopper program is a great example of a common platform with a common theme. In this instance, the cross-merchandising opportunities can be fairly consistent and relevant to both the market at large as well as the Hispanic segment (e.g., tortillas, meat, Mexican soda, Mexican beer). Alternatively, you can choose a more general market plan requiring a similar shopper platform yet with differentiated vehicles or creative elements.
Divergent and differentiated Hispanic shopper solutions often may make more sense, however. Shopper occasions that are uniquely Hispanic may warrant what I like to call a "day in the sun." Case in point: the blip in charcoal sales levels that occurs during Christmas week in the Miami area. During the holidays, many Cuban Americans do pig roasts in a large grill, some of which call for 80 pounds of briquettes. It should come as no surprise that Greater Miami witnesses a seasonal surge in charcoal purchases. Customized shopper programs have been designed to leverage this increasingly popular trend.
Beyond the unique occasion, though, Hispanic-focused accounts are more productive across a series of related marketing initiatives, rather than just a one-off programmer. This does not mean you need to walk away from traditional one-off shopper opportunities like Thanksgiving or Christmas. A total market program also can incorporate seasonal tactics like cross-merchandising with specialized offerings. For example, perhaps the initiative is a special focus on seafood products during Lent, or favorite foods for the big summer soccer series, or a festive Hispanic Heritage Month program in the fall.
Building a more and continuous total market Hispanic shopper planneed not be a complex undertaking. It comes down to understanding the core intersections of cultural shopper behavior with mainstream shopping patterns. Never overlook the long-term goals of your retailers. But always be open to synergies with existing shopper marketing initiatives.