Anyone who has spent any time in the enterprise 2.0 business – for me, it’s been five years – will admit this, if pressured: by far the greatest challenge for the market is not corporate fear, cluelessness, or laziness – the usual scapegoats. The challenge is something far more elusive: getting people in the company to adopt the program meaningfully, persistently, and scalably. The truth is that many enterprise 2.0 programs fail to gain traction because they actually require work. In the enterprise, culture matters, and culture is not something you can easily add, game, or integrate, like the latest 2.0 widget.
But that’s where the consensus ends. A large number of businesses have not been able to move forward with their enterprise 2.0 programs for lack of confidence on the right way to approach culture. One side of the consulting world has spoken up rather aggressively, with the message that culture can be addressed with something called “change management.” But the phrase alone is enough to scare off most of the market. It sounds too expensive – and it often is – and in many cases it just adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to a smaller set of things that can be done.
For the headline, you can’t really blame the editors at Pew. It’s what they do. It’s hard to get anyone to focus on real research in the new “attention economy.” Still, there’s something important that’s missing in this story, as reported both by Pew and the many people who have so far weighed in. The great “Leaderless Latinos” debate has ignored the conditions in which mass movements get started, and leaders are made, particularly when the groups they represent are so complex and diverse. And there’s no better case study than the Tea Party, as unseemly or unsavory as that might seem to some, but perhaps not all Latinos.
Why does this matter to marketers? Well, already there are rumblings from an emergent group that professes to mimic the Tea Party, not in substance but “in its grass-roots organizational style.” The name for this group: the Tequila Party, of course, according to a now widely discussed article last weekend in the Las Vegas Sun.
And it’s interesting that the party has an informal supporter in Robert de Posada , the man who was recently inducted into the Latino Hall of Shame – perhaps fairly – for urging Latinos not to vote. That’s prompted many folks to wonder if the Tequila Party is for real, or masterful sleight of hand by marketing pros.Too early to tell. In the meantime, here’s what marketers across the political spectrum can learn from the Tea Party and see why Latinos might very well adopt the Tea Party model.
Movements start with the disenfranchised. In one of the more thoughtful reactions to the Pew study, syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda noted, “the 48 million Latinos who comprise the nation’s largest minority are not an oppressed class forced to set aside such factors as diverse as native country, preferred language or citizenship status.” It’s a fair point – Latinos today may not need the next Cesar Chavez. But it fails to address what Pew and other research groups have uncovered about how most Latinos feel about big tent issues like discrimination. Pew recently reported that 61 percent of Latinos surveyed say “discrimination against Hispanics is a ‘major problem’” – more than 7 points higher since 2007, when the survey was last conducted. Nor does Cepeda’s column fairly address the recent vote in Nevada and California, where tough Republican stands on immigration pushed Latinos leftward. It would be foolish to underestimate Latino sentiment in the next election, just as it was foolish to underestimate what The New Yorker writer Ben McGrath described as the “longtail of disaffection” that came together as the Tea Party in 2009 to 2010.
Movements start on the ground. If Latinos in 2012 rally around a similar strain of disaffection, it would not be the first time. Looking back at the farm labor movement in the early sixties, Froben Lozada recently told the Houston Chronicle, “It can happen again. It can be very quiet and silent now, but you never know when they [the people] will all of a sudden start raising all kinds of hell.” But if it does happen again, and history is a guide, it will certainly start at the grassroots. Harvard professor Jill Lepore’s recent book on the Tea Party movement confirms what many marketing pros suspected. And many students of the movement have noted that the social Web was a huge accelerant for organizing at the grassroots. The movement began with a true local effort, only later supported by big national interests.
Movements create platforms for leaders, not leaders with platforms. Finally, what are the chances that a movement today can create a single national leader? Again, look at the Tea Party movement, whose rank-and-file take special pride in not having a single leader (Lepore and others have recorded the words of many Tea Party followers who openly disdain Sarah Palin). Just the same, the movement has served as a platform for numerous candidates to get known, get elected, and get a national audience.
If Latinos self-organize for 2012, a similar platform might emerge. As for the Tequila Party, I doubt that many Latinos would come together under such a facetious umbrella (and one that reinforces a cultural stereotype). Safe bet is that the Tequila Party is a trial balloon for a far more serious effort. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m betting that the inspiration – the Tea Party model – will appeal to many disgruntled Latinos, on the left and on the right. And whether that means more national leaders or just more local leaders, who knows? But leaders will arise, and some will surprise, I am sure. In 2012, Pew may have to come up with a different headline.
UPDATE: The original version of this column identified Robert de Posada as a spokesperson for a group of politicians that has been speaking about starting the so-called Tequila Party. De Posada subsequently told ClickZ that he has no formal connection with the group – and this column has been corrected to reflect that.
At a time when immigration has dominated conversation about Latino growth in the U.S., a new book urges businesses to look at trends in the larger, virtual Latinosphere. In “Latino Link,” Chicago-based marketing consultant Joe Kutchera takes a close look at recent patterns in Latino digital life and makes a number of well-reasoned recommendations for businesses. Along the way, he explains why content is still king, why Spain and Mexico may be bigger virtually than physically, and how Google and Facebook offer two approaches – but no final answers – to building a global presence on the social Web. I caught up with Joe on e-mail last week, between stops on his first national book tour.
Giovanni Rodriguez: How did you get into Latino marketing?
Joe Kutchera: First of all, thanks for interviewing me here on ClickZ.
If your readers have the opportunity to open up my book, Latino Link, and read the dedication, they will see what inspired me to write the book and combine my career in digital marketing with Spanish-language media. “This book is dedicated to my parents who met in Spanish class, honeymooned in Mexico, and had me nine months later. I’ve loved learning to speak Spanish ever since.”
After working for a number of Time Warner divisions including Warner Bros., This Old House, and CNNMoney, I had the opportunity to start the digital ad sales and marketing team for Expansion in Mexico City, just after Time Warner had purchased the company. After that, I started the Spanish-language ad network for ContextWeb in New York. So, it was during my last two positions that I worked in Latino marketing.
GR: Tell me about Spanish lessons. Any tips for non-Latinos?
JK: Learning to speak another language means learning how to think and look at the world in a different way. I’ve always loved learning to speak Spanish, traveling to Latin American and Spain, and learning about their respective cultures. Not only is that because of my parents, as mentioned above, but also because I loved how different Latin America is from the Midwest, where I grew up. I strongly recommend working abroad to learn or perfect a foreign language. I learned so much while working in Mexico. And that’s what lead me into Hispanic marketing.
For marketers, I recommend taking a look at the work of the organizational sociologist, Geert Hofstede. He analyzed four dimensions of cultural differences in the workplace. One of those includes individualism versus collectivism. The U.S. is highly individualistic, therefore many of our advertising messages reflect that value. In contrast, Mexico and Latin America fall on the other side of the spectrum. Their collectivistic orientation means that marketers ought to incorporate groups of people into advertising images and promote product benefits for families and groups versus individuals. When crafting a campaign for U.S. Hispanics, a collectivistic message can oftentimes prove more effective.
GR: I love how your book shows that Latinos will cross virtual borders to get what they need. Who owns all the great content online today?
JK: As the saying goes, “content is king.” And content from one’s country of origin can act as a gigantic magnet, attracting consumers back to Mexico virtually. The major newspapers in Latin America (e.g., El Universal, El Tiempo, Clarin, etc.) see anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of their visitors from the U.S. They own a good chunk of the quality content in Spanish online today. Or, if you love a soccer team from Mexico, the best place to find the latest news about them may be from Medio Tiempo in Mexico City, for example. But, because both the Hispanic and Latin American audiences tend to be younger, many of them blog or use Twitter, so you can find a lot of content on the social networks.
In addition, many Latin Americans look to the U.S. for the latest technology and fashion trends for example. Therefore, they visit U.S. sites to get that information.
GR: I also love what you say about Latinos crossing physical borders to shop in the U.S. What can brands learn from this?
JK: Brands can expand their businesses virtually online and serve the Mexicans who spend on average $20 billion to $40 billion annually in the U.S. Mexico represents only one of the many countries whose citizens rationalize trips to the U.S. for shopping.
Compare the price of a laptop in Mexico versus the U.S. and what do you find? The laptop in the U.S. typically costs half as much. Why? Higher taxes and prices in Mexico. It’s no accident that Carlos Slim, one of the top 3 richest men in the world, lives in Mexico. He owns about 7 percent of the GDP of Mexico and many of his businesses have become monopolies. As a result, many middle and upper class Mexicans shop in the U.S. not only to save money but also to buy aspirational products that are not available in Mexico.
GR: From where you sit, what companies really understand the new realities of Latino marketing? What can everyone learn from them?
JK: All of the companies that provided case studies for my book!
Seriously though, take a look at what these companies have done: Best Buy, American Family Insurance, H&R Block, Continental Airlines, Kraft, plus the Spanish-language media companies – Telemundo, Univision, ImpreMedia, and Hoy/Tribune.
GR: In the final sections of your book, you look at two models for distribution on the Web: Facebook and Google. What are the relative merits of each, and what will come next?
JK: This issue boils down to the following: do you want one global “.com” site like Facebook where users customize their online experience with their relationships and personal interests? Or does your company want to manage one country-specific website for each country you do business in? There are pluses and minuses for each. My book outlines the technical recommendations. But underneath it all, it boils down to the Web becoming more collectivistic and global and less country-oriented.
GR: What comes next for Joe Kutchera?
JK: I’ve started working with Insitum, an innovation, design, and market research consultancy with offices in Chicago, Mexico City, Bogota, and Sao Paulo. We help companies develop new products for both the Hispanic and Latin American marketplaces.
In addition, some companies have asked me to give workshops based upon my research in the book. That will continue to grow in the months ahead.