The “Total Market” Debate & Confusion Rages On


Hola NGLC Subscribers!

I wanted to share two very interesting points of view from two people I respect immensely, David Morse, President & CEO, New American Dimensions and Jose Villa, CEO & Founder, Sensis.  Below are two articles they recently wrote for HispanicAd, for you to compare their points of view side by side.  I’m also providing a LINK TO DOWNLOAD my opening remarks from the NGLC #TotalMarketTrends14 conference that took place in June in Los Angeles as a thought starter as well.  My hope is that all of this information helps to sculpt the on-going “Total Market” conversation taking place in our industry, as we look towards the future together.

Article #1:  Total Market:  Where Do We Go From Here?

By David Morse (President & CEO, New American Dimensions)

The presenters at the ANA Multicultural Conference were great. Gilbert Dávila’s moderation was brilliant. The food couldn’t be beat. The ads were among  the best I’ve seen. And finally, everyone is on the same page. Total Market is the way to go.

So what’s my beef?

After three days of listening to presentations on Total Market, I still don’t know what it is.

Okay, we’re a majority/minority nation. There is no “general” market any more. Multicultural consumers are leading the growth in America. I’m glad. I’m in the right line of work.

To its credit, AHAA has taken the lead and given us a definition:

A market approach followed by corporations with their trusted internal and external partners which proactively integrates diverse segment considerations. This is done from inception, through the entire strategic process and execution, with the goal of enhancing value and growth effectiveness.

So, it’s about integration.  We all work together — the general market agency, the multicultural agencies and the client — to create one integrated strategy. We break down the silos.

I’m not sure what’s new here, but I get it. To quote Alex López Negrete, “The 80’s called. They want their strategy back.”

But here’s where I get stuck. The definition continues:

In marketing communications, this could lead to either one fully integrated cross-cultural approach, individual segment approaches, or both in many cases, but always aligned under one overarching strategy.

So, in other words, as long as there is a single strategy, the communications approach can be, well, anything.

Now I’m concerned. Maybe I’m concerned for the same reason that Alejandro Ruelas, CMO and Managing Partner of LatinWorks, is concerned.  In his words, as quoted in Hispanic CMO:

The ‘total market’ idea means different things to different people, because the term was recklessly floated into the marketing lexicon without a clear definition. As a result, it’s now a concept that being defined to fit as needed and embraced by certain agencies and clients to serve self interests.

Finally, I  get it. It’s a term that was made up. A term that doesn’t mean anything. Or, rather, a term that can mean whatever I want it to mean.

To be perfectly honest, I liked things better when we didn’t get along so well. When we debated things. When we asked questions like “What is the best language to use when speaking to a second generation Hispanic?”  Or “What is the future of digital?”  We disagreed. But things got discussed.

So my question now is “What’s next?”. Where do we go from here, now that we’ve figured things out?

In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” 

America is in a state of flux. Politically, we are more divided than ever. Demographically, we are going through a revolution like the country hasn’t experienced since the turn of the twentieth century.  Culturally, we are coming to learn how to celebrate diversity and revel in our own unique identities and worldviews.

It is my hope that as multicultural marketers, we will continue to evolve. We should once again be asking questions, rather than crafting definitions.  Let us agree to disagree so that, together, we can figure out the best ways to market to a multicultural nation.

Article #2:  Why Most Marketers Are Not Ready To Go Total Market Or Cross-Cultural

By Jose Villa (CEO & Founder, Sensis)

Most marketers are behind when it comes to investing in the Hispanic market. Of the $171 billion spent on paid media in 2013 (according to eMarketer), Hispanic media spending totaled just $8.3 billion (according to Kantar and AdAge). Hispanic media spending represents less than 5 percent of total paid media spending, while Hispanics represent 17.1 percent of the U.S. population. While paid media doesn’t capture the entirety of marketing activity targeted to Hispanics, it provides a good barometer.

What’s lost in this data is the fact that a small number of companies, in a few industries, are driving most of the Hispanic marketing activity. A 2010 AHAA analysis of the top 500 US advertisers created rankings based on the level of Hispanic advertising budget allocation in 2009: Best-In-Class, Leaders, Followers, Laggards and Don’t-Get-Its. More than half of the top 500 national advertisers – 279 – fell into the Don’t-Get-It category. When aggregated by the top 50 industries in terms of Hispanic spend, only 14 (or 28 percent) ranked “Best in Class” or “Leader.” Major “Laggard” and “Don’t Get It” industries (which we will collectively call laggards) included electronics, pharma, health insurance, and financial services. While this data is a few years old, Hispanic media spend has only increased from 4.2 percent, indicating very little change in these industry dynamics.

Ethnic Marketing Models

With all the recent talk among marketers around the concept “total market” and “cross-cultural” approaches, a natural question arises: Should companies in these laggard industries leapfrog the traditional multicultural marketing approach and start to embrace the total market approach?

The problem for these laggards and new entrants is that a Total Market Approach is complex and a more advanced approach to cultural marketing. As Arturo Nava stated in his recent article, new models like Total Market are complex. He states this complexity is keeping CMOs from investing more in Hispanic marketing. I think most CMOs realize they are not ready for such advanced cultural marketing models.

Total market, and the cross-cultural model I so passionately promote, requires Hispanic market considerations—including deep consumer insights, market dynamics, etc.—to be well defined, relentlessly updated, and ultimately integrated. This emphasis on multicultural consumers must occur from “inception through the entire strategic process and execution” as eloquently stated by AHAA in their Total Market Roundtable report. The limited Hispanic investment activity over the last three to five years indicates that most companies are not ready to implement a Total Market Approach, let alone a cross-cultural model.

Tried and True multicultural marketing is the way to go for most industries

A Total Market Approach is akin to a more advanced, nuanced and complex approach to reaching Hispanic and other ethnic audiences. It requires a solid base of multicultural structures, processes and insights that most companies do not have. However, beyond structural challenges, the other fundamental issue with most industries taking a total market approach is that it would not help them reach underserved Hispanics. Only a multicultural, ethnic-specific approach would incrementally increase sales with new Hispanic consumer populations—those not otherwise reached with general market ad spend.

While I am a strong advocate of the cross-cultural approach it doesn’t make sense in the case of laggard industries. Most laggard Hispanic marketers can benefit from the incremental revenue opportunity of reaching underserved Hispanic consumers in a highly targeted way. While there are clearly opportunities for these laggard marketers to take a more cross-cultural approach to their general market advertising, the biggest opportunity continues to be investing in multicultural, targeted Hispanic-specific marketing programs.

Total Market and Cross-Cultural Marketing is an Enterprise Process

Should most industries therefore ignore these advanced models? Definitely not, but they should take a long-view and enterprise approach. It takes a while to put in place the people, products, processes and insights to take a true total market approach. Multicultural marketing is a building block that can start companies down the path towards a longer-term, enterprise-wide total market effort that goes beyond just marketing.


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