Thinking Outside The 'LA-New York-Miami' Box

I’ve talked a lot about the growing importance of non-traditional, emerging Hispanic markets like Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C. A lot of focus has been on population growth. However, there is something bigger going on with these markets. I believe their emergence is a game-changer for Hispanic marketing. 

First off, they are the ideal Hispanic test markets. We all know Hispanic marketing activity is still “test” driven outside  committed categories like CPG, QSR, and telecom. The long tail of newer entrants are perpetually testing, driving a significant amount of activity in Hispanic marketing. Many of the non-traditional Hispanic markets are a perfect fit for these “test” Hispanic marketers, checking off all the key criteria of an optimal test market:

  • Similarity to eventual desired markets – with Hispanics making up 17% of the total U.S. population, markets like DC (14%), Milwaukee (15%), Oklahoma City (16%) and Atlanta (12%) have similar Hispanic population percentages
  • Geographic isolation – a good test market isolates variables, particularly exposure to advertising. Markets like Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Oklahoma City fit the bill.
  • Affordable advertising media – Avoiding large expensive markets like LA and New York is important. Spanish language media options in markets like Raleigh, N.C., Seattle, and Milwaukee are relatively lower cost and can achieve high impression levels with modest spend.

These markets are also big in their own right. When you add up the Hispanic population of the 15 fastest-growing markets, you get close to 8 million Hispanics representing over 13% of the entire U.S. Hispanic market. These markets are often overlooked or cut out of limited Hispanic marketing budgets. This creates a low level of competition in many categories. When you factor back in the affordability of advertising in these markets, you have a results-driven recipe for Hispanic market success.

Putting growth aside, the demographic makeup of their growing Hispanic community and their relationship to the broader population of their cities makes them attractive. Growth in these markets is from Hispanic immigrants who are younger and largely Spanish speaking. Spanish-dominant and Spanish-preferring make up significant percentages of Hispanics in markets like Raleigh (39%), Atlanta (39%), and Milwaukee (38%). They are still decidedly “minorities,” providing a “separate and distinct” market opportunity well suited for Hispanic-targeted marketing initiatives. This is different from the Hispanic population in mega-markets like LA and Miami, which is largely growing via native-born Hispanics who are leading the creation of a more nuanced “new mainstream.” Moreover, it will be a while until Hispanics represent 30% to 50% of the population in Raleigh (11%) and Kansas City, Mo. (10%), as they do in Houston and Dallas.

Finally, these non-traditional markets provide interesting opportunities to A-B test the various multicultural marketing models being debated, particularly “Total Market” versus the “multicultural” ethnic-specific approach. Borrowing a concept from the digital marketing handbook, you can look at the 10 Hispanic “Mega Markets” (where Hispanic make up ~ 30% or more of the population) as the places to test the Total Market approach and the “emerging 10” as markets to run Hispanic-specific multicultural programs and see how they do.

If you’re still using the 7-Market Hispanic Marketing Model, you’re missing out on a big opportunity today and potentially the future of the market.

1 comment about "Thinking Outside The 'LA-New York-Miami' Box".
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  1. Tomasito Bobadilla from BFM Movimiento LLC, April 4, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.

    You make valid points for a low cost and fast segmentation reach among Hispanic emerging markets and low cost media access points. Your analysis is right on, except on the language characteristic and choices. I would differ and base the campaign to have Total Market approach, one voice, and one message. You reference Dallas & Houston, in my opinion and experienced, the overall communicator among Hispanics is English. Many do so to differentiate themselves from early arrivals. A Total Market approach with variable touch-points that benefits early arrivals would work and ascertain higher ROI. One can argue either or, but in my opinion, English messaging foster an approach that benefits both early arrivals and 2nd, 3rd generation Hispanics. Let us be real, Atlanta, Raleigh, mirrored Chicago, Dallas, Houston, rather than LA or Miami. Brands cannot live on advertising campaign to reach early arrivals and dismissing 2nd, 3rd generation where English is the dominant communicator. At the end, everyone wants to fit-in.

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