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American Demographics

Keeping It Simple

By John P. McManus

November 11, 2003
Copyright ©2003 Media Central Inc., A PRIMEDIA Company. All rights reserved.

American Demographics
Volume 25; Number 9; ISSN Number 01634089

"Sometimes we make things more complicated, more complex than they are or need to be," says Dolores Kunda, president of Leo Burnett's Lapiz Hispanic marketing division. "In marketing, you often see far too big a deal being made of people's country of origin: This one's from Mexico, this one's from Cuba, this one's from Puerto Rico or Ecuador, etc. And so marketers get tripped up and paralyzed trying to come up with messages that are country-of-origin specific, and media plans that try to target local geographies in the United States based on where most of the people living there came from, and they don't need to.

"The most important factor in reaching the Hispanic market is language," adds Kunda, whose client list during a career that has spanned almost 20 years has included Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Disney and Kraft. "Yes, there are some differences in the idioms of one country versus another, and it's important to know that. You have the same challenge when you're using English. There are differences if you're speaking to someone who lives in Massachusetts and someone in Arkansas. The language is English, but some of the expressions and pronunciations and dialects are different."

A simple assertion, plain as day, coming from someone who ought to know. Kunda's remarks are as much an acknowledgement of accountability as they are an opinion that can provide insight for businesses trying to design marketing initiatives that work for the almost 40 million Latinos who reside in the United States.

The insight is about a common denominator, the thing that connects people to one another, and makes them a population worth pursuing with advertising, promotion and media programs that seek to identify, acquire and retain customers. The insight leads to the accountability. A simple perspective about connectedness strips away theoretical boneheaded arguments about ever more finite niches and customer segments, and cuts to the core of a marketer's challenge to communicate powerfully to people. Kunda notes that debates about the need for country-of-origin specific marketing frequently lead to tail-chasing and inertia. That's why so few marketers are getting the job done vis-à-vis the opportunity in the Hispanic marketplace, Kunda says.

In American Demographics' November issue, we focus on a fast-growing group connected not by language but by household status. People who live in solitary splendor make up more than a quarter of the population today. In "A Place for One," by contributor James Morrow, an analysis of the motivators, the economic enablers and the ramifications shows that while a number of uncommon factors set people who live alone apart from one another – age, economic status and gender, to name a few – the 27 million or more Americans who live alone might also be a market worth looking at as a whole.

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