A lot of articles, studies and presentations about Hispanics come across my screen. My interest in this group is obviously professional, but as of late, two very recent and related reports arose in the same week, both about the Hispanic electorate: “The Latino Voter Registration Dilemma by CLACLS (Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies from the City University of New York) and Changing The Latino Electorate (by the Pew research Center). It was interesting to read both as they provided great perspective into some of the dynamics of Hispanic voters. These also reminded me that in 2012 Latinos not only helped Obama win in key battleground states, but they made up 10% of the electorate for the first time ever.
In reflecting on these two reports, I wondered, if I were a CMO for either party (assuming there was such a thing), how would I grow my share with Hispanic voters? I realize, and hope, this article will generate a lot of commentary because politics is a very passionate subject. It is also a great opportunity to apply marketing fundamentals to one of the world’s most important marketing campaigns. So, if you want to jump in the pit, please do so but as my friends in HR like to say, let’s not get personal here. This is just marketing, after all. So, here’s how I would market the two largest political parties to attract the Hispanic electorate:
1. Approach as a category problem, not a brand problem. Most folks often say “Hispanics have low turnout rate.” Well, it’s not entirely true. The problem is low voter registration. Only 48% of eligible voters registered for 2012 campaign, yet interestingly enough, 81.7% of registered Latino voters voted in the 2012 presidential election. The implication of this is that the selling process is harder because you need to educate the target on the need to vote (e.g., “the category”) before even selling them on a brand (e.g., “the party”).
2. Inspire with a relevant product. The emotional connection with this audience in this category is very high. Being culturally relevant will be a strong driver for Latino voters, in particular. So, the most important and relevant product improvement when I think of a “ticket” would be to have a Latino VP nominee on it. This will connect the target in a visceral way and potentially steal share from the “competitors” unless they also neutralize the threat by putting a Latino on their ticket as well. Can’t have one without the other.
3. Drive the value equation. Part of the challenge with non-registered Latino voters is that they don’t get the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”). Regardless of the party platforms and policies, benefits should be better positioned for Latinos. Sometimes, I find this just gets lost in a broader message. Parties should be communicating more succinct facts, like how many more Latinos will be able to afford college, or how many more Latinos will have access to healthcare when they are advertising their policies. Think creatively how these benefits can be positioned as a claim (e.g., “in 2017, 100 more Latinos will get healthcare every day”).
4. Leverage digital technology. Part of the Latino voting dilemma is that the group overall skews younger, which traditionally makes them less likely to vote. Nearly 62% of the potential Latino electorate is aged 18 - 44. If I were CMO, I would be looking at embedded voting data in my digital targeting coupled with audience modeling, cutting edge online video recognition technology for placement in key content, pixel or geo-fenced lead generation targeting, database development, content development and content management systems that can deliver “programmatic creative” with relevant messaging at a zip code level (look back at #3 for ideas). Lastly, I would utilize cross-device optimization via unique user identification technology.
5. Encourage guerrilla and word-of-mouth marketing. Interestingly enough, between 2008 and 2016 (projected), about 2.2 million Latino immigrants will have become U.S. citizens and, thus, be eligible to vote. If I were CMO of an election campaign, I would capture names outside citizenship ceremonies and target recently minted citizens. Talk about the best possible “life event” to enter this category: you just went through a naturalization ceremony, so new voters will be very excited and much more likely to vote. Yes, blocking and tackling still works.
6. Work the collective “familismo mindset.” Hispanics have a higher incidence of multigenerational families. I would enroll younger, more politically savvy age groups to “take their parents to register” and turn this into a family initiative, not just a “voter initiative.”
I could go on and on with suggestions, but these are just a few thought starters. Read both the reports I referenced above, and think of this not as a political problem but rather an opportunity to apply some great marketing fundamentals.