Ringing In Square One: Easy as 1-2-3

You've heard the phrase "back to square one." Interestingly, when it comes to framing Hispanic shopper marketing initiatives, many shopper marketing managers at many large brands have no idea where square one is found.

Finding square one fits with ringing in the new year. Years back I sat through a business school lecture about the role information technology was having on the strategy-making process for business. The lesson that stuck with me was what I call "Framework 1-2-3 " — so named because it was as easy to recall as the lyrics of a Len Barry song. I cannot tell you how many times over the years 1-2-3 served as my starting point — square one — for discussing with clients how to think about deploying their own distinct Hispanic marketing initiatives. Here are details of Framework 1-2-3's three basic levels:

Tactical Level 1 is what I call the "tactical" phase. Initiatives like this are also termed "proof of concept" trials. That's because before they dive in, the client wants to learn if a Hispanic shopper will respond positively to a concept. So the client often will allocate a small budget for a "one-off." A one-off may be as simple as determining that you have indeed placed the correct point of purchase in your targeted stores. Or it might be studying the results of an isolated and translated tactic. Whatever it is, the tactical level is the most basic square one process there is. But as elemental as it may be, I have seen Level 1 initiatives take root and evolve into successful Level 2 or 3 programs.

Strategic Support Level 2 consists of initiatives that are designed to vigorously support pre-existing general market plans. Imagine you're a manufacturer of, say, hot dogs — and you are considering a Fourth of July occasion-based program for Walmart. Of course, you recognize that to meet your sales goals in top markets like Dallas or Los Angeles you must lure Hispanic shoppers too. Well, do your shopper plans have Hispanic targeted vehicles extending the reach of this occasion messaging? If not, you are missing out on some serious sell-through. (While you are at it, you might want to consider including such Latino-focused adjunct products as queso blanco, queso fresco, mole, ortortillas to grow the grocery basket.)

Strategic Driver Level 3 initiatives are those which, from their inception, are designed to address a specific Hispanic shopper need that diverges from what is available in a general market program. Because these initiatives are significantly differentiated in objectives, creativity, and activation from general market initiatives, they also tend to roll out separately. An example could be a shopper program that leveraged Univision's "Premio Lo Nuestro" — a best of Latin music awards show. This highly effective program would be executed at designated Target "Hispanic stores." Strategic drivers can take other forms too: for example, it could be a re-design of your AMPS (assortment/merchandising/pricing/shelving) plan. Initiatives like an AMPS re-do almost always call for more robust analytics and sweeping insights, but they typically yield improved results because your efforts focus both on sell-in (incremental display) and sell-through (velocity).

There is inherent tension between (A) pre-defined general market strategies that may or may not be relevant to Latino shoppers and (B) original Hispanic initiatives. Therefore, to better understand and agree up front on your ROO (return on objective), it is never a mistake to start the client conversation using Framework 1-2-3. By design, the three levels of 1-2-3 are not mutually exclusive. Each level is merely a tool to help you weigh a potential shopper marketing action against the resources you want to commit to it. The real strength of 1-2-3 is its flexibility. Framework 1-2-3 isn't an "either or," but a "yes and" proposition. One-two-three: As the song says, "It's elementary."

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