Commentary

360 Roses And Thorns

To attend Multicultural Retail 360 is always fun. Recently rebranded from “Hispanic Retail 360” to “Multicultural Retail 360,” the event this year positioned itself as a broader venue to learn more about the ins and outs of multicultural retail and not just Hispanic retail. 

“Refreshing it was,” as master Yoda would say, to catch up with a large number of industry colleagues over Montejo Micheladas and listen to the pain points as well as the success stories. Although I do not consider myself a critic, I have opinions, so I thought I would write today about my likes (roses) and dislikes (thorns) of the conference (at my own peril perhaps). Since there were several tracks (African American, Hispanic, Asian) I was not able to eat every dish so my “review” if I may be so bold, will be more like a restaurant review based on what I ordered, not the full menu. Just like a menu item, I will also keep it brief…à la Letterman top 10.

As we are frequently faced with the age-old question: “I have bad news and good news, which do you want first?” most people usually go with the bad first so let’s keep that framework (I like to use fancy words sometimes).

Thorns:

1. Casually observing the exhibit hall, I felt manufacturer presence and support continued to be slim. I would hope to see more ethnic brands exhibiting their products. This is a great venue for retailers, agencies and manufacturers to come together yet the pickings were slim. 

2. Yikes! It’s not 1995 when there was little information on the Hispanic market (remember the SRC blue book, folks?) … we have Google now. So, ease up basic demographics content … maybe there should be one of those rules where you need to put $5 in a jar if you have more than one slide on Hispanic demographics.

3. Going strong, the word “journey” continues to surface too often, Although not necessarily a thorn of the conference, it’s still a pain point for the industry. Hispanic marketing, whether it’s shopper, advertising or promotions, more frequently than I would like it, seem to be at the “beginning of a never-ending journey.”

4. As the obsession with the use of the term “total market” continues, it feels more like a sign of insecurity. The definitions and re-definitions that a minute will revise are starting to feel defensive. Can we ban this term for a while? Can we instead use something like “This makes common sense because … .” Then again, as one of my mentors frequently told me, “El sentido común es el menos común de los sentidos.”

Roses:

1. Loved Nielsen’s session of a demand-based strategy framework. Wow, what a nice twist on multicultural strategy approach. “I’ll look at what you buy/use to figure out innovate product design and apply it to multicultural” – nicely done!

2. In second place, the NFL made a nice play explaining how a better organizational framework can infuse Hispanic marketing into the go-to-market framework. Strategic choices are also part of the playbook – well done. Marketing is about choosing what not to do.

3. Now, I learned something new! Geometry (yes, I am not afraid of mentioning the competition because competition is good) showed an interesting study leveraging Professor’s Geert Hofstede’s cultural global dimensions framework … very global, very Geometry, very nice. 

4. Deftly executed, Univision/Acosta’s shopper study continued validating Hispanic shopper truths but also had some nice additions such as the social media and mobile usage statistics – good improvement.

On a closing note, I would like thank all of you who approached me to comment on my regular “column” (the good, the bad and the ugly). I was pleasantly surprised to know that people are actually reading what I write; I can honestly say it no longer feels like a tree falling in the forest. Looking forward to a few more Micheladas next year!

3 comments about "360 Roses And Thorns".
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  1. Carlos Pelay from Media Economics Group, August 20, 2015 at 1:24 p.m.

    Nice recap...SRC blue book reference made me smile, definitely brings back memories :)

  2. Lisa Urias from Urias Communications, August 20, 2015 at 2:07 p.m.

    We use the word "cross-cultural" with our clients. As the rate of marriage and family formation between Hispanics (or other minorities) and non-Hispanics accelerates, the phenomenon of bilingualism and cross-cultural embrace strengthens in our society. This trend is happening rapidly, particularly among Millennials and Gen Y. Being bilingual is cool - as is knowing no boundaries due to digital advancements and access to global markets and cultures. This is profoundly affecting the values and sensibilities of mainstream culture in America. These trends should not be underestimated. 

  3. Roberto Siewczynski from Epsilon replied, August 20, 2015 at 3:15 p.m.

    Thank you for the comments Carlos and Lisa.

    Maybe I am dating myself a little with the bluebook comment! 

    Lisa, thank you for your comment, just saw your website - love the work keep it up!

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