Studies show there are now more than 3.2 million Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S. – a number that has risen by 85% since 2002. And, according to Chamber of Commerce data, Hispanic businesses grew their sales, on average, by 7% annually from 2007 to 2013 – making them good targets for ad firms and distributorships.
“As a Hispanic-owned company ourselves, we try to show that we understand Hispanics’ values, propositions and their marketplace,” says Memo Kahan, president of Top 40 distributor PromoShop (asi/300446), which serves Hispanic clients both inside and outside the U.S. Is your firm looking to appeal to Hispanic clients? Read on for Kahan’s advice.
Q: How does PromoShop make connections with Hispanic prospects?
A: Being a Hispanic owned and operated firm is the beginning. We then have made a conscious effort to become part of the community. We do that through support of some charities, local and national council involvement, and finally by speaking about it.
Q: How important is language in working with Hispanic customers?
A: I do not believe language matters, as long as one is able to communicate and add value to an opportunity. We do have salespeople and support staff that are bi-lingual, which really makes a difference when attempting to assimilate and connect. It’s a great added value, yet not a must.
Q: Does a distributor need to have a physical presence in Mexico to do business there?
A: No, it’s not necessary, but it definitely helps. It’s the personal touch that makes the most difference. We transact in many countries, yet we focus in the places where we have a presence.
Q: How much of a factor is currency in business dealings with Mexico-based firms?
A: In this global economy, I do not believe it matters. We and they are used to transacting in U.S. dollars and so are the banking institutions.
Q: What types of promotional products and programs do Hispanic customers like most?
A: Hispanics are very focused on their family values, culture, food and their love for soccer. So anytime we have an opportunity, we try to fit in items and campaigns that have some sort of relevance in these categories. The passion for soccer is one of the best ways to associate and create excitement within the community.
Q: You probably ran some successful campaigns for Hispanic clients during the World Cup then, right?
A: Yes, we worked with a Hispanic newspaper to create excitement and sales for both the paper and their sponsors. We printed 300,000 promotional car decals for giveaway items. If newspaper photographers saw the decal next to a license plate, they’d take a picture of it and publish it. People would see their plate in the paper, then call to validate they owned the car to win tickets to the games. It was crazy how you could drive in Los Angeles and every other car seemed to have had a bright yellow sticker.
Q: Why do Hispanics like working with U.S.-based marketing firms?
A: It starts with the American Dream concept. Not just with Hispanics, but I believe consumers from outside the U.S. like to assimilate with American products and the way we market here in the states. It’s the Walmart-type phenomenon which began with Budweiser and Levi jeans. People might not appreciate some of the ways the U.S. is perceived around the globe, yet everyone wants what we market and sell.
Q: How can a promotional firm that would like to win business from the Hispanic community get started?
A: Try to understand the culture, the values and the “people” factor. Then, one must understand the savviness of the buyer and its clients. The way that the beer companies have embraced Cinco de Mayo is a great example. Even though Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated and not recognized as a Mexican holiday, marketers and brands have made it an amazing consumption day. Overall, to be successful, I’d say it’s important to be respectful, knowledgeable, innovative and work very hard to earn the respect and business of Hispanics.