Effective Hispanic Advertising that Drives Behavior Change

September 28, 2016

Posted by Jose Villa

Most marketers view their role as driving demand, either via upper funnel branding and awareness activities or lower funnel direct response, sales and retention activities. Advertising is generally viewed as one of the primary tools to drive consumer demand. But what is at the core of driving consumer demand? Changing consumer behavior. That behavior change could involve new product trial, increasing occasion, acquiring market share by driving preference change, or increasing retention. To quote Adam Ferrier from his influential book The Advertising Effect, “Advertising is really the business of behavior change.”

The growth and interest in behavioral economics, as popularized by books like Nudge and Thinking Fast and Slow has brought a great deal of attention to the irrational ways people behave and the art and science behind how to influence that behavior. Building upon Ferrier’s analysis of psychological and behavioral science research, there are nine action spurs, or triggers, that can be used in advertising to change consumer behavior. (See figure below.)


Many of these behavior change triggers are not new, and have been in use since the Mad Men era of advertising. They include using endorsements and modeling (follow) and emotion and evocation (feel) in ads to change consumer behavior and drive demand. Similarly, some have been used in Hispanic advertising, but without a deliberate focus on behavior change, or leveraging all nine triggers. This is a major missed opportunity.

The Hispanic consumer market is typically seen as an emerging market for many brands and industries. This is particularly the case for laggard industries like pharma, electronics, and financial services that have made limited investments and little inroads with Hispanics. Most Hispanics are unfamiliar with or do not use their products. Additionally, many brands target recent Hispanic immigrants who are essentially new consumers with no brand preference. This is because immigrants may not be able access trusted brands from their home countries in the U.S. or are looking to assimilate via new adoption of U.S. brands. This is commonly the case with beer.

For these laggard categories and those targeting recent immigrants, Hispanic marketing is primarily about generating significant behavior change, in the form of:

  • Introducing new categories and associated products (e.g. pharma, financial services)
  • Driving trial with new brands/products/services (e.g. beer, wireless, CPG)

For these Hispanic marketing efforts to be effective, it is critical that communications not only effectively change behavior, but also be culturally relevant. Cultural relevance is achieved by identifying Hispanic consumer insights and creating content and messages that relate to Hispanic consumer beliefs, customs, ways of thinking, behaving and/or working.

Therefore, the triggers used to effectively change Hispanic consumer behavior must be used in culturally relevant ways. As an example, if the “play” trigger is used to make a desired behavior more enjoyable by incorporating gamification or play principles, it must be done in a culturally relevant way. This means using game formats that are popular and well understood in relevant Hispanic home countries, such as loteria and “veo veo”, or leveraging multiplayer formats where Hispanic gamers over index. Marketers have a significant opportunity to grow in the Hispanic market by employing smarter marketing strategies that use culture to change Hispanic consumer behavior.

An edited version of this post originally ran on MediaPost Engage:Hispanic on September 23, 2016.

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