What does it take to bring about behavior shifts?

Just because you place an ad doesn’t mean it will ignite behavior change. There is an assumption that if brands can get audience attention, give a piece of information, and associate the brand with emotions, marketers will inspire behavior change. 

If marketers only focus on persuading to change an audience beliefs and preferences, how easy do you think it will be for them to change? 

How can you ensure your marketing inspires people to change behavior?

Instead of trying to persuade your audience to change their believes or values, you meet them where they are by addressing knowledge gaps, social norms, and environment, you might have a change to ignite behavior change. 

Think about that for a second. Audiences look at content through their own lens of personal experiences, knowledge, values, attitudes, beliefs, and motivations. And not everyone will be using a product for the same reasons. We need to think how a product, message, and the behavior change you are promoting fits into their lives.  

Storytelling with cultural insight, not generalization, leads to influencing behavior and better experience. It’s the difference between designing a relevant marketing campaign and a generic one.

Telling stories that resonate and personalize your message for your audience is important, but how do you do this? Here are three elements that might help.

Knowledge Gap: 

Does your audience know about the behavior, do they understand, and do they think it is relevant to them? You might be presenting a solution to a problem; however, your audience might not be there with you. She might have a basic knowledge and understanding or none at all of the issue and risk you are presenting. A mistake is to assume, that your audience knows what you know, and wants what you want. Different audiences might have different knowledge base and if they don’t see a need or how it fits into their lives, they will not perceive your message relevant.

To optimize your goals, meet your audience where they are. Think that different behavior objectives might be necessary for different groups of people. 

Match the creative and message to your customer needs and understand your audience’s intent. Marketers need to understand exactly how people feel about an issue, use a product, what values, habits, aspirations or motivations will drive change.

Social Norms 

Will doing this new behavior be acceptable? Will it fit with their actual or aspirational self-image? Does it fit with how they relate to others or want to?

Behavior change is a function of social context. People want to live up to what is expected of them.  Culture, family, community, and peer influence are powerful forces in behavior.  

To build a story that creates cultural tension, make the new behavior desirable. You can take your consumers down a different path of resistance by stringing together the audience value and aspiration with the intended behavior. The objective is to make the new behavior acceptable and visible if possible. 

Community

Once people have made a change, what can we do to help them keep doing it?

People want to be part of something. Create an environment where your audience feels supported, can get and provide feedback, and is reminded to make the new behavior a habit. A simple way of doing this is creating a social medial group on Facebook, WhatsApp, or any other social media platform where they feel comfortable sharing and engaging. 

Marketers can be powerful agents for change when they understand people’s knowledge gaps, their audience social context, and the intent of why they use products or do what they what they do.  They can even be more powerful and more helpful when they can reach diverse groups of people with stories that are relevant to each audience group. 

Is There a Blind Spot in Your Marketing Strategy?

If you have not considered marketing to Latinos, you might be missing a growth opportunity. The Latino consumer market is the fastest growing segment in America with spending power to the tune of $1.7 trillion—the equivalent of capturing a share of the Canadian or Mexican economy.

Currently, Latinos account for 1 in 5 Americans and soon will constitute 1 in 3 of the U.S. population.  Moreover, more than half of the U.S. Hispanic population is under the age of 29. Additionally, 25% of Generation Z, (3 to-23 years old) the largest generation group in the U.S., is Hispanic.

Latinos are well-connected and a powerful social force. They communicate more frequently with family, friends, and colleagues than non-Hispanics. According to the Keller Fay Group, compared to other ethnic groups, Latinos talk 20 times more about brands, and are 5 times more likely to share shopping recommendations according to CivicScience.  This means outreach to Hispanics can boost your marketing investment. Specifically, an earned media multiplier effect—brand awareness and peer influence—can result in an increased ROI.

If you are developing a Latino marketing campaign, let’s take a look at three potential blind spots:

Engaging Latino

Strategy goes nowhere unless it starts with the customer. John Sculley in his book Moonshot, advises the reader to put the customer at the center of abusiness concept. This is especially relevant with a diverse audience. You wouldn’t market to customers in a different country the same way you would market to the typical U.S. consumer, would you?  The Latino community is no different.

Culture matters to tell authentic stories and to create remarkable experiences. We have to recognize that not everyone is the same. Customers look at content through their personal lens of values, knowledge, experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.

Designing relevant marketing, communications and experiences, means creating messages and moments that your audience can identify with and say, “They are speaking to me,” “This is for me,” or “I can see myself.”  In other words, strive for cultural affinity. Why? Because Latino consumers will pay more attention, trust the brand more, and will be more likely to take action.

This means looking at each segment of the Latino population and considering their living context, values, aspirations, needs, motivations, and challenges, to design programs that achieve cultural affinity and relevancy.  According to theNielsen TV Brand EffectSurvey, advertising and programs that have cultural affinity are more impactful, as general population advertising doesn’t always resonate with Hispanic audiences.

English vs.Spanish-Language.

Think differently. It is not about English or Spanish. It is about language plus culture, context, and content. Language depends on the Latino audience segment and their language of comfort.

The Nielsen study found that Spanish-language ads perform better than English-language ads among Hispanic adults in terms of ad type, brand, and message memorability. These ads perform more than twice as well in likability. However, this does not mean doing a literal translation from English to Spanish.

It is frequently believed that English is the default language for bilingual Hispanics. However, Univision found this is one of the largest misperceptions. Bilingual Latinos speak in the language that is most appropriate to what they’re doing. For example, when looking at online videos, 74% of third-generation bilingual Latinos consume videos in Spanish.

On the other hand, younger Latinos are more comfortable speaking and consuming content in English. However, younger Latinos are watching more Spanish-language videos on streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube, and actively seeking out and enjoying content tailored to them as Latinos. According to eMarketer,73% of third-generation Hispanics said they consume online videos “that speak to their Hispanic/Latino heritage.”  Why? Because retaining their culture is very important to them.

Language matters but is just one part of the equation. This underscores the need for brands to connect with Hispanics in a culturally-relevant way. Just because Hispanics are consuming content in English, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate Spanish into marketing campaigns, or because Latinos prefer speaking in Spanish you should do a direct translation into Spanish.

Building Online with Offline Experiences.

Customer trust is based on consumers sharing their experiences with other consumers online and offline. Word-of-mouth is the leading influencer of consumer purchase decisions in the U.S.  Notably, TV, radio, print, digital media, and offline events have a strong role to play in influencing word-of-mouth purchasing decisions.

Latinos are very active on social media, sharing posts and comments on issues specific to their communities and culture. Online and offline experiences give them an opportunity to build a relationship with the brand and ammunition to talk about it. Over 68% of Hispanic brand mentions referenced some form of online or offline marketing, compared to 60% of non-Hispanics.

The Keller Fay Groupstudy found that Hispanics are not only more likely to engage in word-of-mouth than the general public, but also more likely to pass along the information they hear to others.  What’s better than learning about a product or service than from people you know and trust?

Remember, emotions drive people to action and people tend to conform to what others are doing.  So igniting an emotion and making content more observable makes it easier to talk, share, and take action when the content and experience is cultural relevant.

Social Determinants of Health: Addressing Equity with Strategic Communications

Authored by Ⓒ Selena A. Ramkeesoon, MBA, PMP, MLS

Good health and coping with the inevitable challenges one encounters during a lifetime are a journey. Inadequate resources make a successful journey harder. At an individual level, lack of personal resources such as income and knowledge, limit an individual’s ability to follow optimal paths to health and vice versa. At a macro level, our society has a finite amount of resources—both monetary and service‐related—that realistically will not provide everything to everyone. We do not naturally think about health in terms of social factors. However, our health is significantly affected by our homes, jobs, and schools. The social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions—and their distribution among the population—influencing individual and group differences in health status.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action. Healthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing the social determinants of health by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of the four overarching goals for the decade. This emphasis is shared by the World Health Organization, whose Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2008 published the report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.

We generally recognize five determinants of health of a population:

1. Biology and genetics (e.g., gender).
2. Individual behavior (e.g., alcohol or injection drug-use, unprotected sex, smoking).
3. Social environment (e.g., income, education level, marital status).
4. Physical environment (e.g., place of residence, population density, built environment).
5. Health services (e.g., access to and quality of care, insurance coverage).

Although we do not know the exact impact of each of these five determinants of population health, in theory, social environment, physical environment, and health services (which combined make up social determinants of health) represent 50 percent of the factors that influence population health. This leaves us subject to our choices and circumstances for safe and affordable housing, access to quality education and job training, public safety, health services, and availability of healthy foods. These factors and social patterning of health, disease, and illness often plague individuals seeking to break the vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes. These are key factors in health inequity or health disparity—a particular type of difference in health (or in the determinants of health that could be shaped by policies)—in which disadvantaged social groups systematically experience worse health or more health risks than do more advantaged social groups.

As a social marketing professional who has developed and implemented several health campaigns, I believe communicators must take into consideration and address each of the determinants when developing awareness and education programs; especially when we seek to reach and encourage action among special populations. For example, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, women, children, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ populations. It is these populations who are often heavily impacted and in the greatest need of such health messaging. Yet, it is also the same populations who are often “stuck” in a vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes.

Social determinants challenge us to take into consideration a person’s/or population’s environment and circumstances to appropriately develop messages and strategies that resonate, reaching the audience at the right time and in the right place, and that are realistic—meaning that audience circumstances truly allow them to act in the desired manner. Behavior change is difficult and individuals cannot do it themselves without support. Behavior change communication programs are designed to bring about behaviors that will improve health status and related long-term outcomes. Such programs are key to providing the support structure that help people make the necessary health changes in their lives. Effective action to address the social determinants of health requires having sufficient knowledge of the mechanisms influencing health inequities, and adopting a conceptual framework that not only clarifies the relationship between social determinants and health inequities, but also helps to identify entry points for intervention.

This article was written by Dr. Selena A. Ramkeesoon. Selena is a communications strategist in the Washington, DC metro area. Ⓒ 2019, Selena A. Ramkeesoon. All Rights Reserved.

Should Hispanic be marketed as General Market?

Should Hispanic be marketed as General Market?

One of the key issues marketers are struggling with is the cultural tension between general and Hispanic marketing strategies to reach and engage Hispanic customers so they can grow, make profit and/or make a social impact. And with limited resources cultural marketing strategies might become an afterthought or the team would default to just translate the general market strategy for the Hispanic customer.

But, not all consumers are created equal. So, if two customer segments are different, why shortchange your growth potential by marketing Hispanic customers as general market?

Here are a few ideas on how you can diffuse cultural marketing tension:

Cultural Insight Drives Strategy and Strategy Drives Impact

Consumers are not isolated entities. Past experiences and social interaction dictates the outcomes of their behavior. Cultural insight will help you develop solutions and create an original narrative storyline that evokes emotions. Emotions that are relatable and familiar with your audience’s real-world experiences, which might be different from each customer segment you want to reach.

Developing relevant products and creating an emotional connection starts on the front end with understanding your customer’s pain points, the progress a customer is trying to make in a given situation, and knowing their emotional drivers to prove that you get them.

When Natural Valley wanted to reach the Hispanic market, they asked, “How do we tell the Natural Valley story to Latinos?” The answer in the general market was: hiking to the top of the mountain or kayaking on rapid waters. Adventure stories of how nature was conquered. However, when Casanova Pendrill, asked the question, they uncovered that to Latinos the parks served as their natural adventure and that all natural ingredients get you into the nature lifestyle.

Emotionally Connected Customers are More Valuable

Emotional drivers vary by customer segment and product category. Customers who form an emotional attachment to a brand are 52% more valuable than those who are just highly satisfied, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Scott Magids.

But, gathering demographic facts about a customer and implementing general market strategies or translations won’t capture what really motivates Hispanic customers to take action. Think of it this way: You can know a person’s age, height, and family size, but that won’t tell you why she bought a camera today. Maybe she needs to feel that she belong —a reason no amount of demographic data will reveal.

When Little Cesar’s Pizza wanted to reach Latinos in California’s Central Valley, we found out that eating pizza for first generation Latinos meant going to a seat down restaurant to celebrate with family and friends. The experience gave them a sense of accomplishment. It was not a utilitarian transaction to ease the day and cook a meal. Thus, Little Cesar’s Pizza needed to change the customer behavior and idea that eating at restaurant is the only way to celebrate special occasions.

Being Relevant Is About Helping Your Customers Tell Their Story With Your Brand

Helping your customers tell their story is about understanding how your brand enables your customer tell who they are. It requires exploring your consumers cultural and social context to learn how they feel and how to capture the unseen cultural subtleties. By understanding how they feel, think, say, and do about life, you will get a better understanding how your product or idea might fit into your customers lives, helping you become relevant.

When we worked on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Zika campaign in Puerto Rico, we learned that living with mosquitos is part of their daily life and that mosquito-born desease campaigns were nothing new to them. Thus, the new campaign was rapidly falling into depth ears. Like a new song played too many times, goes into a background noise. So we asked how does mosquito preventing measures fit into their daily life? And we uncovered that what we needed to do was not telling what to do instead reminding them that preventing measures are part of their daily routing to enjoy the things they like to do, such drinking coffee with friends, going to the beach, and watching movies.

Given the enormous opportunity to capture the Hispanic market and create value, companies should diffuse the cultural tension between marketing to Hispanic consumers as general market. It will be harder to make an emotional connection that inspire action if you don’t develop a Hispanic strategy based on cultural insight.

You can begin to lessen general versus Hispanic marketing strategy tension by developing a strategy with cultual insights, uncovering emotional drivers, and helping your customers tell their story with your brand.

Are you telling your story in a culturally relevant way to Hispanics?

Are you telling your story in a culturally relevant way to Hispanics?

Recently, while talking with a colleague she expressed her frustration about how Spanish translations become the default tactic to address the Latino audience. Although I can understand the efficiency justification – time and budget -a one-size-fits all strategy is a risky proposition and can produce less than expected results. Attention is waning and is more difficult to secure than ever, and the questions the Latino audience are asking- is this for me, are you talking to me? Only translating general market messages and creative into Spanish might miss the mark to connect with your Latino audience.

Spanish is important , cultural relevany is more important

Spanish is important, but cultural relevancy is more important

Spanish-language is a unifying force and the minimum denominator to show relevancy. It is easy to see, like the top of the iceberg. However, what you don’t see that is deeply rooted in culture and closely interconnected to emotions, what is underneath the water has a strong influence on how Latinos perceive most aspects of their lives. Understanding how the Latino segment interpret and perceive the world, their beliefs, attitudes, values, and social norms regarding specific situations, can be the difference between connecting and engaging with the Hispanic audience or getting lost in translation. According to Felipe Korzenny, professor of Advertising and Integrated Marketing and Management Communication at Florida State University (FSU), “it is the subjectivity of the interpretation of cultural values that makes one portrayal relevant to one group and not to another”. Incorporating a cultural perspective and nuance adds intimacy to the communication strategy.

Incorporate cultural nuances into the message and creative to achieve higher memorability and likeability

According to a Nielsen Brand Effect study that analyzed ROI Spanish-language TV campaigns effectiveness compared to their English-language General Market TV ads, found that original Spanish content that is culturally tailored to the U.S. Hispanic market outperform ads that are simply translated into Spanish.

So how can you achieve stronger cultural relevancy? The following 3 questions can help you start the conversation:

  • Is there a universal consumer insight we can leverage or a different understanding that will be more relevant and effective?
  • What is the right motivational appeal to emotionally engage Hispanics?
  • What are the cultural elements and identification (seen and unseen) that needs to be incorporated?

Spanish language is a unifying factor and effective in reaching Latino audiences. However don’t diminish the importance of developing original content, creating a narrative storyline, and making it relatable with familiar and real world settings. Incorporating the cultural perspective should not be lost on any Latino segment. Knowing how a priority group feels about life, health, the future, love, death, children, career, art, sex, etc, and how to capture the unseen cultural subtleties, empowers you to evoke emotions and tell your story in a cultural relevant way.