In my recent projects related to studying multicultural segments, I had the opportunity to work with Eduardo Infante, qualitative researcher, with over 25 years of marketing experience – VP Marketing in several banks and Market Research Manager at General Motors in USA, to name a few.
Eduardo has conducted automotive and financial services qualitative research throughout Latin and North America, primarily in cities with large Hispanic communities. He also lectures in master programs in Mexico, at Universidad Panamericana. I would like to share with you part of the interview:
GiuseppinaRusso: What are the challenges in predicting ethnic segments behaviors, specifically if we try to approach the Hispanic segment?
Eduardo Infante: The Hispanic market may be a challenge for marketing, advertising and promotion, market research, distribution, branding, consumer behaviour, or customer satisfaction and loyalty. The main question is how different are consumers depending on their ancestry?
The answer gets through understanding that there is a large diversity not only as to what country the consumer is coming from, but their status; some are newly arrived, others arrived when they were children and have grown up in their new Country. And others are from a 2nd or 3th generation or beyond that. What does it mean from a behavioral perspective? Being essentially the same situation from a cultural stand point, the grades may vary enormously. The nostalgia factor, for one, makes the newly arrived showing different consumer behaviour when it comes to food products, for instance, as compared to the consumer born in the new Country. The variable here is “being familiar with…” along with “to get used to…”.
GiuseppinaRusso: From a consumer’s behaviour perspective, the Hispanic “condition” has different grades?
EduardoInfante: While the grade of bilingualism and bi-culturalism may make a difference in the planning and execution of the commercialization of products and services, there is also true that we are not talking about consumers totally opposed when it comes to buying decision making. It is all about subtle ways to adapt products characteristics and communicate and promote them.
“Individualism” and “family oriented” are two segmentation variables in the auto marketing that may mark some differences within the Hispanic market. The closer to the old culture, the more “family oriented” variable will tend to prevail compared to “individualism” in the decision making. A personal car will have its place in the consumer’s decision as long as the family car has been taken care of. This kind of decision is not necessarily Hispanic exclusively, but the probability of occurrence is certainly higher.
The ethnography-based research is immensely valuable to understand the subtle consuming differences among the various Hispanic segments.
GiuseppinaRusso: Is Ethnography the best research methodology to approach the Hispanic Market?<a
Eduardo Indfante: While it’s not the only one, and all of the qualitative research tools are necessary, Ethnography is a most appropriate research methodology to dive down deep into the richness of the culture-driven Hispanic consumers. There are some shades, though, that this research specialty may help to clear out. Though the culture is a powerful force that influences our behavior and decisions, its action is not always felt in the same way or intensity when it comes to consumer’s decisions. The original culture is in a constant interaction with the new one, sometimes giving away, sometimes taking out. And not few times, blending in softly, almost unnoticed.
On the other hand, the more intimate the consuming scenario is, the more cultural based the decision appears to be. For instance: food products, music, some clothing, some interior design items. The Hispanic consumer can be better understood as such within its own environment, complementing this picture with outside research, in their interaction with the marketplace.
Professor Infante is also part of the executive team at the Technology Commercialization Office at Centro Panamericano de Investigacion e Innovacion (CEPii) from IPADE and UP.