Hispanic Summit: Integrated Strategy Is Key

NEW YORK Reaching Hispanic consumers requires a strong integrated strategy that incorporates relevant messaging, respect and differentiation into every aspect of a brand or company.

That’s the chief approach that Target employs to attract a loyal following of Latino consumers who consistently give the stores high marks for providing a convenient shopping experience, per the retailer.

Target owes much of its success to early acknowledgement of Latinos as an emerging majority and of the Hispanic population “as a marketplace opportunity, not just as marketing opportunity,” said Greg Cunningham, the retailer’s director of multicultural marketing. “You can’t just treat it as a niche market.”

He delivered the opening address at the 2008 Hispanic Retail 360 Summit yesterday in Miami.

“We’ve tried to think about the Hispanic market not only as a marketing opportunity but much more cross-functionally: How does this emerging majority affect our community relations efforts, how does it affect our merchandising marketing, corporate diversity and supplier diversity relationships and strategies?” he said.

When he saw the opportunity to expand Target’s business “by speaking more personally with its emerging majority,” Cunningham, who at the time was working in various other marketing positions, created the multicultural post and convinced his Target bosses that specialized messaging was needed in order for the brand to resonate with Hispanics and other ethnic groups.

“Otherwise, it’s like inviting somebody to a party and addressing the invitation to ‘resident.’ Yeah, you invited them, but not really,” Cunningham said. “The invitation wasn’t really for you.”

In a broad sense, Target is “putting their specific name and address on that invitation and we’re really making it more personal,” he said.

“People want to have a relationship with a brand and they don’t want to be sold to — they want you to provide solutions to their everyday problems, meaning they want a convenient shopping experience. They want to get in and out, but they also want to know that ‘you are contributing to the schools my kids go to, you respect my culture and my community, you’re hiring people from my community to work in those stores, that you see me as a valued member of society and you’re worthy of my support as a retailer,'” Cunningham said.

Those attributes tend to be highly valued by Hispanics and all people of color because for so long they have been outsiders and haven’t been able to fully participate in the American dream, he added.

To build a successful relationship with Hispanic shoppers, the retailer has built its core strategy on three main pillars: respect, relevance and differentiation. Here’s how Cunningham breaks them down:


It sounds simple enough, but Cunningham said brands and marketers often ignore this key strategy.

He said: “You want to make sure that people have earned your trust and have earned your dollar in a way that says, ‘We respect what you and your culture bring to the table,’ and it’s not just me taking, taking, taking. This really is a relationship that is a two-way street.”

To connect with Hispanics, it’s imperative to know who they are as a diverse cultural group and as consumers.

“Respect is all about how we embrace the unique contributions of the culture over all,” Cunningham said. “It’s about how we share great stories of culture and pride and make Hispanic culture accessible to all of our guests because at the end of the day, there is more that we have in common than we have that separates us.”

Target’s “Dream in color” campaign, a yearlong celebration of culture and heritage, is a way to go beyond designated cultural observances such as Black History Month, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month or Hispanic Heritage Month — which the retailer abandoned a few years ago — to engage consumers in a dialogue that embraces “commonality.”