Friday, March 15, 2013

Q&A: Leading Author on Hispanic Marketing & Digital Engagement, Joe Kutchera

Vista Hispano held a recent digital Q&A with Joe Kutchera, a true thought-leader on how to connect with and engage today's Latinos. If you haven't read or at least perused his book by now you deserve a chancletazo! Seriously.

Hello Joe. It's not everyday that I get to connect with a top Hispanic marketing guru. You literally wrote the book on the subject of how to engage today's Latino market. Thank you for joining Vista Hispano!

First of all, thank you Jose for inviting to have a conversation on your blog. And also, thank you for including me on your top 40 list.

In your book, Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content, you talk about why U.S. Hispanics use social networking sites. Please tell us more about what you consider to be the leading factors driving one of the most socially active online population segments in the U.S.?

While writing and researching Latino Link, I read a book called “The Culturally Customized Website,” by Professors Nitish Singh and Arun Pereira. It had a big impact on my book. The authors outlined successful website design techniques based on culture, utilizing four matrices of differences between cultures, based on the work of Geert Hoefstede.

One of those differences in culture is Individualism vs. Collectivism.

Social networks present a much more welcoming environment for collectivistic cultures, most notably, Latin American cultures. Prior to social networks, the Internet was a much more 1-to-1 experience. Search, for example, is a very individualistic experience. A person types in what they want and they receive an answer. Social networks on the other hand present a much more collectivistic experience, not just on Facebook and Twitter but for all of the websites that utilize the sharing and login functionality from social networks.

The other important factor today is access to the Internet via mobile devices. We need to look no further than the new report from Pew Hispanic Trust to see that the end of the digital divide is here. Cell phones present an opportunity for everyone to access information that they want and need. And of course applications from the major social networks are consistently in the top most downloaded and utilized applications.

Why do you feel it's important for today's marketers to link to social networks where Latinos participate to facilitate interaction and self-expression?

It boils down to where people spend time. Young people especially spend a majority of their free time on social networks. This applies not only to Latinos but to all cultures and areas of interest, where people want to share their “passion” e.g. sports and music. The art of communicating with any group today on social networks is listening to them and then identifying the content that most appeals to that audience. Once this is in place, companies can develop content on social platforms to attract and facilitate conversation with their target audiences.

What kind of role do you think "self-identity" and "community" play when it comes to Latinos making a product/service decision?

The companies that can build online communities successfully can keep in touch and stay top of mind with their fans. It is not for every brand or category though.

That being said, it’s amazing how even in the insurance category (something that most people never want to think about), Allstate maintains contact with its Hispanic “fans” on its “Soy La Mala Suerte” character page with over 172,000 likes. While its 1% engagement rate is low relative to other categories, that percentage is 100’s of times better than banner advertising click-thru rates in the insurance category for example.

A lot of talk centers around the idea of 'revolucionarios' and/or 'influencers'. For brands and causes striving to engage the Latino market, what kind of dynamics or selection criteria should guide the selection of such influencers as a means of fueling Latino online engagement?

Great question. There are two types here.

One, influencers like Ana Flores, author of the book “Bilingual is Better,” serve as “hubs” for Latina moms. She is an advocate among Latina moms for raising a child to be bi-lingual.  And, she has a huge following to show for it: over 4,800 fans on Twitter @LAFlowers. (Spanglish Baby, her book that she co-authored, has over 9,000 followers on Twitter.)

Two, influencers like Chef Rick Bayless, bring Latino culture and food to the masses. Rick is the chef of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and Xoco as well as author of eight cookbooks. He has over 301,000 followers on Twitter. You could call him a #GringoLatino.

You recently blogged about your experiences this past summer putting together a pioneering research project with the migrant farm worker advocate Peter Eversoll, the co-founder of the non-profit NC Field, which “empowers farmworkers through education and leadership development of their children.” Please tell me more about this exciting project:

That’s actually a sample chapter of my new book in Spanish, a five-step process to marketing in the age of social/mobile media. Its important for companies to develop new products, services and marketing communications for the next generation of Internet users, many of whom may skip the laptop and jump right to the small screen of the mobile phone.

Our book will come out this June and be distributed in Latin America, the U.S. and Spain. All of the author proceeds will go towards One Laptop Per Child. Here are the five steps:

  1. É – Escuche a su audiencia (Listen to your audience)
  2. X – eXperimente como usuario, a través de “perfiles” (Put yourself in the shoes of the user and write your marketing plan using “personas”)
  3. I – Integre sus canales de comunicación (Integrate your communication channels)
  4. T – Transforme su audiencia en comunidades (Transform your audience into a community)
  5. O – Optimice los resultados (Optimize the results)

The book offers some great stories from 3M, Banamex (Citibank) Cinépolis (the leading movie theater chain in Mexico), Google, Grupo Expansión (Time Inc), Kimberly-Clark, LG, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble,, Sears, Unilever, and a number of startups from across Latin America.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recent report with BIGinsight, “Digital Hispanic Consumer” shows that when Hispanic consumers go online, they are more likely to do so via a mobile device: more Hispanics own an iPhone than the general population (27 percent vs. 20 percent), an Android (34 percent vs. 26 percent), or an iPad tablet (21 percent vs. 16 percent), according to the study. Yet, unsurprisingly, the IAB report finds that Hispanic users are less likely to own a desktop (40 percent) compared to general consumers (48 percent). (Read more on Technologies of Liberation)

One of the most exciting and explosive areas of marketing and communications centers around the accelerated pace of digital media. How are trends in entrepreneurship and the ever-popular wave of startup activity impacting how marketers engage consumers both online and offline?

Great question Jose. PepsiCo has done a great job addressing that issue. The beverage and snack marketer invited startups to participate in its PepsiCo10 competition where startups compete for funding and a chance to work with PepsiCo’s brands. It allowed the company to generate more marketing ideas far more quickly as well as develop a competitive advantage via new technology.

Here’s another preview from my new book that highlights what Pepsi did:
Pepsi invited start-up companies and students to apply for the Fall 2012 phase via a tab on PepsiCo Brazil’s Facebook page. Pepsi evaluated proposals based on an applicant’s ability to partner with PepsiCo brands and commercial viability. Judges included executives from PepsiCo, venture capital firm Highland Capital, and PepsiCo’s advertising agency partners iThink and Omnicom. The PepsiCo10 Brazil winners were then offered an all-expenses paid trip to New York City in 2013 for the opportunity to meet with PepsiCo’s marketing leadership team and network with US-based digital influencers.
Appreciate the valuable perspective. Sounds like you're working on some innovative projects and leading the charge in Latino engagement. How can our visitors keep in touch with you?

Everyone can sign up for my email updates from my blog/website or send me an email at Joe [at] Kutchera [dot] net.

Joe, it's been awesome having you join Vista Hispano for a Q&A. Thank you again for this outstanding opportunity. Wish you all the best in your continued projects and look forward to staying in touch!

Joe was kind of enough to provide me with 3 signed copies of his book, Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content featuring a special-edition cover designed by Andrew Kutchera (Joe's brother).

How to Participate
Vista Hispano will be giving away one signed copy of Joe's book on Twitter, Facebook, and the comments section of this blog post. Here's how to win your copy:

On Twitter:

  1. Follow @VistaHispano.
  2. Tweet the following: Win a signed copy of Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content by @JoeKutchera

On Facebook

  1. Become a fan of Hub 81.
  2. Post this message on the page's wall: I want to win a signed copy of Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content by @JoeKutchera

Comments Section

  1. Post a comment on this post linking to a video reply of why you want to win a signed copy of Joe's book. (Hint: Try Vine, Tout, YouTube, and any other video app you can think of. Get creative!)
  2. Comment with your email address.
Winners will be randomly picked and announced Friday, March 22nd at the bottom of this blog post.

Note: Increase your chances of winning by doing all three of the steps above. Please, only one entry per step.

Have fun!

Congratulations to the following people. Besides being cool gente, you all are the new winners of a signed-copy of Joe Kutchera's book Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content.

Albert Ornelas (OCGente)
Daisy Garcia (Daisy_Garcia)
Maria Lopez (LopezMarealopez)

Felicidades! - @JoseHuitron