“Marketing Matters”: Multicultural Marketing and MECLABS

Aired July 19th, 2017

This week on Marketing Matters, Executive Director Catharine Hays was joined by thought leaders changing the ways in which multicultural marketing and data analytics are being used.  Linda Lane Gonzalez (Board Chair, AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing; President, Viva Partnership, Inc.)  and David Wellisch (Co-Founder and CEO, Collage Group), discussed the importance of the Hispanic Market while Flint McGlaughlin (CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute), and Daniel Burstein (Senior Director and Editorial Content for MarketingSherpa, MECLABS Institute) from MECLABS explained the innovative ways in which they hope to use data as a tool for better marketing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hispanic consumers are not monolithic; they vary generationally and geographically, and these distinctions influence their behavior as consumers
  • Marketers should imagine variations in target demographics based along cultural lines rather than ethnic lines—it expands the perspective and provides a more holistic framework
  • Data should be used as a tool to develop customer-first theories, but marketers often fail to do this effectively.
Linda Lane Gonzalez, Board Chair, AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing; President, Viva Partnership, Inc.

This week’s first interview was with Linda Lane Gonzalez, the Board Chair of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing and the President of Viva Partnership. Catharine started off the interview by asking Gonzalez what she thought of “Despacito,” the most popular song in the world right now, and what it means in the scope of multicultural marketing. Gonzalez asserted that it’s an exciting reminder that Hispanics have a huge influence on culture and that music is just one of the many Hispanic elements shaping the modern landscape of America, alongside food, dance and more.

Shifting the conversation, Gonzaelez then addressed the uniqueness of the Hispanic market and how language influences consumption behaviors.  To Gonzalez, culture is the distinguishing aspect of the Hispanic market and it influences interactions with the economy.  She emphasized that language is a part of culture and is a bridge people use to connect with heritage.  For these reasons, she claims that it can become a powerful tool to elicit the type of emotions that drive Hispanic consumers to purchase. For example, Gonzalez cites how studies have shown that Hispanic communities communicate with friends and family more than any other ethnic group, and this phenomenon is rooted in the cultural importance of familial piety.  Gonzalez stated that this is relevant for marketers because it means that Hispanics are extremely digital and technologically connected.  She further cites the “Latino Bloomers” as an example of Hispanic millennials that are extremely connected with their heritage and increasingly family-oriented, as well as more educated and affluent than their ancestors, making them a growing and extremely desirable demographic for marketers.  Gonzalez’s closing advice for advertisers and companies seeking to appeal to Hispanic consumers was to remember that they are not a monolithic community, but one that varies along not only geographical lines such as California Mexicans, Texas Latinos, and New York Puerto Ricans, but also generational lines, like the “Latino Bloomers.”

David Wellisch, Co-Founder and CEO, Collage Group

Next to join Catharine was David Wellisch, the Co-Founder and CEO of the Collage Group, a group working to connect top companies with different demographics such as Hispanics, multiculturals, and millennials.  Wellisch helped debunk a series of myths about the Hispanic community, particularly the idea that Hispanic and multicultural markets should be an “addition” to any general marketing strategy. Instead, Wellisch argues that America is inherently a multicultural market and there have been major changes in the Hispanic market segment, making it not just Spanish speakers, but also a much larger group of people with an incredible potential for market influence.  In light of this claim, Wellisch proposes that companies market across a cultural continuum broken down into four different types of consumers: Cultural Explorers, World Citizens, Isolated Americans, and Ethnic Enclaves.  In doing so, marketers expand their perspective and are able to create more holistic campaigns that imagine Hispanic and other multicultural consumers not as supplementary niches, but as integral market segments.  Wellisch says this is a more effective model for marketing than to market by targeting specific ethnic communities because studies show that there are more consumption commonalities among these groups than there are differences.  Companies must focus on passion points, such as music and sports, which translate authenticity—the most important component for any effective advertising campaign across all four of Wellisch’s consumer segments.

Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute

During the final segment, Catharine welcomed Flint McGlaughlin and Daniel Burstein from MECLABS Institute. McGlaughlin began the interview by sharing how he started his work at MECLABS, and some of the central questions driving his research there.  He explained that MECLABS works to understand the cognitive psychology of consumer conversion through research and data analytics ultimately geared towards answering the question of “Why do people say yes?”  His research uses consumer data of various forms to establish a framework of behavioral psychology to understand how people make purchasing decisions.  Burstein joined the conversation by explaining how MarketingSherpa, a research institute acquired by MECLABS, works to find and publish inspiring stories highlighting the success of “customer-first” marketing.   Burstein elaborated about the nature of customer-first marketing and what sets it apart from “customer-centric” marketing.  He explained that customer-first marketing is about matching long-term personal consumer goals alongside short-term company goals, whereas customer-centric marketing focuses on how can a company can target and get the most out of a customer.

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content for MarketingSherpa, MECLABS Institute

McGlaughlin also shared his belief that data is a powerful tool that is not being properly leveraged in the current industry environment:  The work being done with “big data” is only scratching the surface of how this information can and should be used.  McGlaughlin explained his observation that data is often being used to treat people instrumentally rather than intrinsically, and this process ultimately disrupts the ways in which data can be fully utilized.   He feels that companies must reframe the ways in which they conduct research in order to change the culture.  For example, rather than marketers imagining consumers as a “lead” or a means to an end, he wants consumers to be viewed as multifaceted people whom the company is interested in serving.  This can help rehumanize business, and truly create a culture of customer-first marketing.

You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/


By Hyungtae Kim
College of Arts and Sciences ’20