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Lazos Latinos Seminar Puts New Face on Selling - Ethnicity

SeminarBy Linda A. Moore
The Commercial Appeal
(May 2000)

It's a fact that America and Memphis have changed, and Tuesday business and marketers learned how they must sell differently to the nation's changing face.

About 225 representatives from area businesses, advertising and marketing firms spent Tuesday at Reaching the Multicultural Market, a daylong seminar of strategies for marketing to growing Hispanic and African-American populations.

"America is multiethnic," said John McManus, editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine, "but that fact is not always acknowledged."

It would make sense for marketers to aim programs at diverse markets, McManus said, but they often treat the information to support the approach like "we treat healthy diets and exercise."

"We know what to do, we just don't do it," McManus said.

But some do and do it well.

Members of the new world increasingly will be Spanish-speaking.

There are about 32 million Hispanics living in the United States today, said Cristina Benitez, president of Lazos Latinos, a Chicago-based consulting form that specializes in Hispanic strategic branding.

And these numbers don't reflect the entire Hispanic community because it doesn't include the undercounted, undocumented or Puerto Ricans. But they all still spend money and buy products, and need to be reached.

Marketers must also realize that Hispanics come from different countries with different food, music and histories.

"Some people lump us all into one big thing and think that we eat tacos," Benitez said.

Marketers may not be able to target individual groups, but they can focus on similarities, like language, the importance of religion and family.

The seminar was presented by Tina Birchett, president of Birchett & Associates Inc., founder of the Sisterhood Outreach Summit and Showcase and publisher and owner of Gracemagazine. Sponsors included FedEx, LG&W and Clear Channel radio stations.

"It's exactly what we had envisioned, people coming together to get information on multicultural marketing," Birchett said. "It couldn't have been any better."

Shirley Burford, regional manager of Bell South, attended because the seminar offered information her company needs and wants.

"I'm learning a lot about what's important and valuable to those particular markets," Burford said.

And although she is a black woman, Burford doesn't assume she knows all about marketing to the black community.

"It's true to a point, but just like everybody else, there are a lot of cultural differences," she said.

Videotapes of the seminar are available for $40 and can be ordered by contacting Birchett & Associates at 579-9333.

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