We kicked off the first day of our ninth-annual Leading the Change thought leadership forum with a mission of introducing marketers to their Inclusivity Imperative. Day one featured self-professed professional troublemaker and best-selling author Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Kantar Consulting’s J. Walker Smith, and Nestle U.S.A.’s CMO Alicia Enciso.
Smith originated the term “inclusivity imperative” pre-COVID, but the pandemic has made it even more of a precondition of success. By overlooking Hispanics or not focusing the right amount of attention on gaining them as customers, brands could delay their recovery or miss out on opportunities to gain share.
Smith defines the imperative clearly: “Brands can grow only through inclusivity.” Kantar’s research shows that the biggest differentiator between brands that declined and those that grew was whether they lost or gained customers.
He mapped out the reasoning during his virtual presentation:
- Penetration: Growth requires more buyers.
- Inclusivity: More consumers power more penetration.
- Hispanics: Consumers that deliver the numbers that drive growth.
So, how do you work toward the inclusivity imperative at your organization?
Be the “Elevator”
If inclusivity marketing is not the status quo at your organization, do everything within your power to make it so. This can mean building a metrics-centered business case, aligning others across the organization, and presenting ideas. It can also mean presenting those ideas again and again.
“Be the person who insists they elevate everything they touch,” suggested Leading the Change speaker and best-selling author Luvvie Ajayi Jones. “We tend to opt out of best-case scenarios because we are afraid of worst-case scenarios that never come.”
Research shows that sitting on the sidelines is not in a brand’s best interest. Eight out of 10 Hispanics agreed that “companies that make sincere efforts to be part of or invest in my community deserve my loyalty” (U.S. Monitor Surveys 2020).
This belief is not limited to Hispanic consumers. Over 60% of total millennials agree “diversity is an extremely/very important personal value,” and it is “extremely/very important for my favorite brands to support racial/ethnic justice and equality.”
The U.S., as a whole, is more culturally open than before. “What’s fascinating is that the mainstream is now outside of the ‘mainstream,’” said Smith.
Competence Grows with Action
You can build your competence, but you have to start somewhere. Nestle U.S.A. CMO Alicia Enciso said their journey began 15 years ago by focusing on their Hispanic heritage brands. Brands like Nescafé and La Lechera were obvious opportunities.
They started by working to understand the U.S. Latino audience. “The insights were different because the U.S. Hispanic experience is fundamentally different from that of the origin country.”
Enciso suggested that marketers surround themselves with smart partnerships. That includes internal ones like committed CEOs and external research agencies and industry organizations that deepen understanding and opportunities. She added that Nestle U.S.A’s partnership with Univision has been “an accelerator” for them both because of media and valuable insights.
One of those insights is acknowledging the Spanish-language is a cultural cornerstone. Sixty-six percent of Hispanics agree the language is more important to them now than five years ago.
Part of competence is approaching your consumer with empathy for their situation. While Smith noted that the pandemic has disproportionately disrupted Hispanics, their resilience is apparent. This month, 65% of Hispanics said they “feel in control of their financial future,” slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels at 64%.
“Offer ways for them to unlock that resilience and meet them where they are,” said Smith. During COVID, Nescafé shifted its marketing campaign featuring Ricky Martin to a more familial message showing a family enjoying a “cafecito” and the tagline “Más unidos que nunca” (More together than ever).
Persevere with Grit
Nestle U.S.A. is now on phase three of its inclusivity marketing journey, which is about broadening strategies across all multicultural segments and uncovering other brands that can benefit from U.S. Hispanics. They have doubled their investment over the past five years because they continue to see results.
Nestle U.S.A. created categories in the Hispanic market that didn’t exist before, like creamers, and maintained category leadership with Coffee Mate. Recently, they pivoted campaigns to focus on e-commerce and the “at home revolution” when they noticed increases in online shopping and eating in. CPK Frozen and Starbucks Creamers are just two brands reaping the benefits with +30% and +13% growth since last year.
Enciso shared: “We track sales, share amongst Hispanics, and Hispanic contribution to total growth. Without metrics, you have no visibility. You need to invest in the journey and apply your grit.”