Business

Somos Agency Reaches KC’s Untapped Market

Somos Agency shows clients and experienced ad agencies how to reach Hispanic consumers

The Hispanic segment is an enterprise dream with off-the-charts growth stats in the works now and for a long time to come. U.S. Census Bureau metrics list a Hispanic population count of 64 million by 2020 and a 50 percent growth rate in purchasing power between 2010 and 2015. The numbers show that Hispanics represent a $1.5 trillion market.

Somos Agency CEO Nicholas Segura

Nicholas Segura, a Kansas City native with Mexican heritage, is one entrepreneur paying attention to these numbers. Having launched Somos Agency seven years ago in Kansas City, Mo., Segura is focused on bringing attention to the massive but largely untapped Hispanic market segment. Somos—which translates to the phrase “We are”—is half multicultural ad firm, half multicultural talent agency. The idea behind each element of Somos is to shrink what Segura calls the “diversity deficit.”

As a marketer well versed in Hispanic demographic research, Segura has helped local big names like Sprint, Hallmark, Applebee’s and the Associated Wholesale Grocers develop ad campaigns aimed at Hispanic consumers. These efforts earned him recognition by the Small Business Administration as the 2013 Minority Small Business Champion of the Year for the Kansas City area.

The phenomenal growth of the Hispanic market means the niche is a worthwhile consideration for all marketing campaigns across consumer-focused industries. However, the advertising and marketing sector is woefully underprepared for the challenge, according to Segura. The industry—often regarded as cutting edge and trend embracing—is still mostly a Caucasian endeavor, and the absence of Hispanic names at local ad club meetings is glaring, he says. In fact, Segura believes this situation fosters ignorance about the Hispanic market as a whole, essentially leaving a growing pile of dollars on the table. Media agencies offer clients campaigns with a near total “lack of strategy” when it comes to effectively reaching Hispanic consumers, he says.

Tackling the problem of ignorance is one Segura boldly faces head on. Passionate in his determination to educate the advertising industry about the Hispanic segment and other ethnic markets, he’s been reaching out to other ad agencies by organizing conferences and seeking public speaking opportunities. In October alone, Segura led the Hispanic Digital Connections conference and also was a featured speaker at Social Media Club and American Marketing Association meetings.

Due to the fluidity of immigration from Latin countries, many Hispanics currently living in the U.S. represent first-generation immigrants who maintain a dominant cultural influence based upon their native countries. As expected, second and third generations in Hispanic families tend to assimilate more into the cultural mainstream than their parents and grandparents. A bicultural segment known as “fusionistas,” these younger generations of Hispanic consumers incorporate their cultural heritage into all facets of modern life.

One particular challenge for targeting U.S. Hispanics is the fact that the group itself is highly segmented. “There are different levels of acculturation,” Segura explains. Beyond the language barriers, for instance, is the need to understand how Hispanics interact with various media outlets.

The Hispanic market is generally perceived as “one big, gigantic, monolithic group,” Segura describes. In truth, it’s a segment that’s “highly diverse with rapid growth,” he says. The dynamics demonstrate the Hispanic market as being tremendously multifaceted. In other words, marketing to Hispanics means tapping into various media outlets to effectively reach the relevant demographic.

For example, older Hispanics—who most likely represent the first generation—are best reached through traditional channels such as Spanish-language television networks with programming centered on Latin-oriented music, sports, news and entertainment. Younger Hispanics, on the other hand, are much more plugged into technology than the older segment.

Savvy marketers selling to the Hispanic segment understand the cultural blend that starts in the Hispanic household. Without ever formalizing the process, for instance, Hispanic families living in the U.S. tend to speak a mixture of both Spanish and English. Online messaging geared toward the younger, more tech-savvy Hispanics seems to reflect this linguistic and cultural blend.

Cultural understanding is tantamount to successfully marketing toward U.S. Hispanics. Literal translation of language, for example, can often lead to glaring missteps. Merely changing the words without considering their cultural context is like “saying I’ll reach women by making everything pink,” Segura explains.

Online and mobile technologies are two critical components to reaching multicultural consumers. Both African-American and U.S. Hispanic consumers use and adopt shopping technologies at a greater rate than Caucasians. According to market research, 18 percent of African-American shoppers and 16 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers use their smartphones to make online purchases in comparison to 10 percent of Caucasians.

Market researchers also report that 21 percent of African-American shoppers and 20 percent of U.S. Hispanic shoppers read product reviews and compare product prices on their mobile devices. The Caucasian segment only accounts for 13 percent of shoppers with this mobile behavior.

The comparison between ethnic and Caucasian consumers is a necessary complement as retailers tailor their marketing mix to include the largest growth segment in the country. Certainly, companies looking for solid growth target Hispanics based on their shopping preferences. And savvy companies will offer Hispanics familiarity. “You have to understand the culture,” Segura says.

Story by Ramona Paden