It has been interesting to follow the conversation this year regarding the application of Total Market strategies and how they relate to the future of Hispanic ad agencies. While predictions and solutions differ, one thing is clear: Total Market is here to stay.
While the narrative of the obsolete Hispanic ad agency continues to unfold, a potentially more devastating trend is occurring that affects ad agencies in general — consulting firms are taking more and more marketing dollars. According to a recent Forbes article, which quotes Advertising Age, “all the top 3, and 8 of the top-10 ad agencies are not those legacy names that might visit your home nightly with their TV commercials. Instead, they are consultancies like Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG and PwC.” So not only is the Hispanic ad agency in jeopardy, ad agencies as we know them are at risk.
The incursion of management consulting companies into the ad agency space gives Total Market practitioners a chance to learn from management consulting tactics. Beyond the obvious fact that management consulting firms have the ears of key decision makers, they are also ahead thanks, in part, to their heavy reliance on data, a practice that ad agencies are slowly starting to adopt.
Secondary and primary research are integral parts of the management consulting process. From high-level industry statistics to project-specific focus groups, management consultants utilize any and all data at hand and regularly conduct primary research when the data they are looking for is not available.
Management consulting’s reliance on data is a particularly important lesson for the application of Total Market as it is a complex strategy to implement without any insights into the different segments attempted to be reached.
At this year’s SXSW, Javier Farfan, VP of marketing at Verizon, defined what Total Market means in one of the most succinct ways I have heard:
“What total market means is to analyze what is the common value across all segments and figure out what the nuances are and then go deep into the cultural fabric of each segment.”
His definition gets to the heart of what constitutes an effective Total Market strategy while emphasizing the need for analysis in order to unearth a common value.
Hispanic and Multicultural agencies fall short at times by applying now outdated Hispanic/multicultural values, which may have worked in the past, to today’s Total Market strategies, not realizing that these values have evolved and now fall short in resonating with Hispanic and multicultural consumers.
It is important to note that taking these value assumptions and applying them to a Total Market strategy isn’t necessarily relegated to Hispanic and Multicultural agencies exclusively. As general market agencies win more and more Hispanic and multicultural work from ethnic-specific agencies, they, too, fall prey to continuing these assumptions without digging into what makes each segment tick on a deeper level.
This is where the management consulting firm approach excels. Where both multicultural and general market agencies may rely on outdated tropes regarding various segments, management consulting firms are known to rely heavily on data prior to making any decision, including advertising decisions. In this increasingly data-rich world, part of the reason that management consulting firms have slowly crept their way into the top 10 ad agency list is their steadfast dedication to numbers.
While creativity may be lost with making big data a religion, management consulting firms are obviously doing something right. I mean, you can’t go wrong by understanding your consumer a little better and numbers help you do that.