Industry Expert: LatinoLandia USA

In this week's Industry Expert section, Comida News brings to you Joseph Albonetti, President of LatinoLandia USA, an Hispanic marketing and communications company that uses its expertise to help companies meet their goals for sales growth and brand expansion.

What is the most exciting part of your work at LatinoLandia? Being able to assist clients develop winning strategies that move their businesses forward in a wide array of categories. There is so much to be learned and so many cutting-edge ways to reach and motivate Hispanic consumers. We like being at the forefront of innovation.

One area in which LatinoLandia excels is in advising clients on marketing research. Can you briefly explain the importance of research in developing and marketing a product? A strong market positioning is hardly ever accidental. It must be developed, discovered, and embraced. Knowing where a product is in terms of acceptance by consumers, and how the product is different, and hopefully, better than the current competition, are keys to developing a powerful positioning in the market. Research, including comparative product testing, internal analysis, secondary, and primary research helps drive the insights that are at the foundation of a winning "selling proposition."

What are some of the traps that failed products or services have fallen in to? Lots of products try to go to market without an integrated plan for success. With the thousands of new products being introduced every year, it’s not enough just to have a good or even great idea or competitive quality. It’s crucial to provide a clear reason for retailers to stock the product, and a comprehensive trade and consumer communications program to drive trial, repeat purchase, and product loyalty, thereby increasing sales and share growth. Otherwise the product will go the way of thousands each year: off the shelf, and into oblivion.

And on the other end of the spectrum, can you give us an example of a successful marketing campaign that you either admired from afar or worked on professionally? One is for our client, Nong Shim America, Inc., a division of Nong Shim Ltd. of Korea, the largest Ramen noodle maker in the world. By starting with careful market research and positioning, we created a very effective campaign to boost the Nong Shim Bowl Noodle brand in New York and Los Angeles, using a dynamic media mix of Outdoor, TV, Events and Promotions. Double-digit growth in these markets resulted in expansion to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and San Francisco. Additionally, we helped them open their subsidiary in Mexico. In the past year the brand launched sales offices in Chicago and Atlanta as well, and Nong Shim opened their first U.S. manufacturing facility in Rancho Cucamonga.

What are some of the common misconceptions that marketing executives have when trying to market to the Hispanic consumer? Today, Hispanics represent over 15% of our population, some 50 million consumers. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Hispanics don’t buy certain products because they don’t have as much money as the general market. But since they boast larger and younger families, and have an estimated Hispanic Buying Power rapidly approaching $1 trillion, that is a self-limiting concept. Another is that Hispanics are exceptionally brand loyal. They are, but the larger truth behind Hispanic brand loyalty is more subtle and more interesting. Hispanics are loyal to quality brands that have earned their loyalty by talking directly to them, while providing good values for their families. What’s more, Latinos are very willing “triers,” because they are interested in finding new and better products. Hispanics came here for a better life.They simply want to be respected and to be wooed to try new products. But make no mistake, they will switch brands if properly motivated.

With so many nationalities represented by the Hispanic population, how does one cater to them all when marketing a service or product? By being sensitive to the language and idiomatic expressions used in the communications. Spanish is one language, but some idiomatic expressions are primarily Mexican or Cuban, for example, and depending how they are used, might tend to exclude others. But there are plenty of commonalities in Spanish language usage and culture across all the different nationalities, which provide a very rich overall U.S. Hispanic “vocabulary.”

Speaking to the Hispanic food & beverage industry in particular, what changes can we expect 5-10 years down the road? There will be an acceleration in new product introductions, and especially, in the movement toward more authentic Latino tastes, and healthy formulations. In addition to products manufactured here in the U.S., there will be many more products successfully entering the U.S. from all countries in Latin America, not just Mexico. Another likely occurrence is the opening of Cuba post-Castro, which will be a boon for savvy food marketers.

Click here for more information on LatinoLandia USA