Miami becomes epicenter of product development targeting Hispanics
By Marilyn Bowden
With its affluent, diverse Hispanic population and Spanish media presence, Miami is gaining a reputation as the ideal place to roll out products targeting the broader Hispanic market.
"Miami is the epicenter for national brands trying to launch in the Latino market because the Hispanic media is based here," said Mike Valdés-Fauli, president of The Jeffrey Group Miami.
"People all over the country are coming to our backyard to communicate with Hispanics across the country.
"It's been said for a long time, but Miami really is the gateway to the Americas. We have US Hispanic media outlets like Univision getting some of their content from Mexico, and others such as CNN en Español creating content in the US and then distributing it across Latin America. That creates a cross-flow of information."
With offices in New York City, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, The Jeffrey Group bills itself as the largest independent communications agency targeting Latin America.
"One of the interesting things about Miami is that Latinos here are the general market," Mr. Valdés-Fauli said. "They now represent well over 50% of the population, so they're not so much of a niche market anymore."
Miami's Hispanic population is also more affluent than its counterparts in other areas, he said, and that means some marketers of products and services that might not target Latinos in other markets do just that in Miami.
Marketing to Miami's Hispanic population means talking a broad-brush approach to try to reach each sub-sector, Mr. Valdés-Fauli said — those who are bicultural as well as those who are primarily Spanish-speaking.
"If you're doing your job justice," he said, "you also have to tailor to different countries of origin." The best campaign, he said, is one with universal appeal but nuances that address a specific culture.
"There is definitely a universal Spanish that doesn't alienate anyone," he said, "but we might use social cues that sort of wink to the Colombian population or have cultural relevance for Cubans."
For example, Mr. Valdés-Fauli said, marketing for Johnny Walker whisky targets all of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as bicultural Latinos; ads for Jose Cuervo tequila go after first-generation Mexicans.
"Both brands are owned by Diageo," he said, "but they have vastly different targets."
Any brand that wants to succeed in the Latino market can't rely solely on a market campaign strategy, Mr. Valdés-Fauli said. It's critical to connect culturally.
"You have to engage at the grassroots level," he said, "and get involved in the community. For example, United Healthcare is hosting a golf tournament for their foundation."
In the same way, Mr. Valdés-Fauli said, major brands such as Kraft that have a presence in Miami "are showing a commitment to the Hispanic community in a way that will repay them.
"Brands such as Bacardi or Goya that have their headquarters here have a very strong affinity with the Hispanic market because of it."
Locally based Navarro Discount Pharmacy, known as the largest Hispanic-owned drugstore chain in the US, is counting on the strength of Miami as a conduit to the greater Hispanic market for the success of its private label brand, Vida Mia, to be launched next month.
Vida Mia products cover a wide range of categories, including over-the-counter drugs as well as household, beauty, food, body and baby goods, said Cristy Leon-Rivero, Navarro's vice president of marketing.
She described Vida Mia as "a brand that was developed by our customers. We ran focus groups comprised of customers from a broad base of Hispanic countries and spent a lot of time on research. We're fortunate that we do have a captive Hispanic consumer market in this area."
Ms. Leon-Rivero emphasized that Vida Mia will be a bilingual brand. "We have an Hispanic base that may or may not be bilingual," she said. "Non-Hispanics also shop our stores. We wanted a brand that many different groups would feel comfortable purchasing.
"At the same time, having the label in both languages gives the brand more credibility. It provides a little more personal connection with the customer."
For example, she said, third-generation Americans with Latin roots might be thoroughly assimilated but still like to use items they remember their grandparents using.
"It's a continuity of generations, with how you were raised."
In the near future, Ms. Leon-Rivero said, Navarro plans to introduce Vida Mia products across the country, both through its website and through relationships with other merchandisers.
"We have received various calls from retailers in underserviced Hispanic areas who are interested in bringing the line into their stores," she said. "We're working on those relationships. Hopefully in the next two to three months we will be able to announce some new partners."
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