DEARBORN - Hispanics are an important consumer group for Ford, and for good reason.
Not only are Hispanics the fastest growing population in the U.S. but the percentage of volume growth in the Hispanic segment outpaces that of the overall industry by 10 percent, according to David Rodriguez, manager, Multicultural Communications.
“The Hispanic market represents a tremendous growth opportunity for us,” he said, noting that Ford has been directing marketing efforts toward Hispanics for more than 17 years.
Hispanics are particularly influential buyers in what Ford calls the Super Segments – vehicles in the small car (Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX), midsize car (Fusion) and small utility (Escape) categories. Those segments represent 59 percent of industry volume for Hispanics compared to 54 percent for the general market.
Understanding the Hispanic culture is key to Ford’s marketing efforts, says Rodriguez.
“Right now the Hispanic population is going through a lot of change,” he said. “Education levels are increasing dramatically as are levels of affluence, and family dynamics are changing and evolving. So we try to stay very much in tune with that. We’ve also seen the importance of Hispanic culture staying very prominent among even the younger audiences.”
From an advertising standpoint, television remains the best way to reach Hispanics, according to Jim Hartford, manager, Advertising and Media, U.S. Marketing, Sales & Service, who says ads are typically produced in Spanish or bilingually and air on Hispanic networks like Telemundo and Univision.
“We align our overall thinking to company priorities – such as EcoBoost offerings and fuel efficiency – that are important to all consumers regardless of what segment they’re in,” he said. “Then we try to find the most relevant, engaging approach to position that to the Hispanic market.”
Relevant and engaging means reflecting Hispanics in the ads – both in terms of language and casting.
“Language is one of the most embraced cultural cues we utilize,” said Hartford. “And we are trying to make our ads more personable so that the people we cast are relevant in terms of family settings.”
Hartford says improving value perceptions is a big opportunity for Ford right now with the Hispanic community.
“Hispanics want to make sure that they’re getting value for the money they’re spending so if we’re able to help people understand to a better degree the benefits of some of the smart technologies we have in our vehicles then they will start to understand more and more that Ford is worth it,” he explained.
While television advertising is an important way to reach the Hispanic audience, Hartford says Ford is seeing a great deal of growth and engagement in social media.
“The Hispanic market over-indexes on many different areas of digital media, be it the use of the internet, mobile, downloading of music, etc. so digital and social media are really significant components of our plan,” he said.
Last year, Ford launched a social media community for Hispanics on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fordenespanol -- called La Plaza.
“The reason we picked that name is that in many Hispanic countries a plaza is very much a hub for social interaction and a gathering of friends,” explained Hartford. “It has an emotional tie for people who are either from those countries or have visited those countries.”
Experiential marketing is also an important part of Ford’s strategy to reach Hispanics, leveraging assets like the Ford Experience tour (FET).
“We try to zero in on the places where the market tends to socialize, congregate and go for entertainment. For instance, we may take the tour to a Cinco de Mayo Festival in Houston,” explained Rodriguez. “We’ll have vehicle representatives there who are bilingual and all the marketing behind the events is done in Spanish.”
In an effort to reach potential new Spanish-speaking customers in key Hispanic markets and strengthen ties between dealerships and the already tight-knit surrounding Hispanic communities, Ford’s Hispanic marketing efforts have been tailored to enhance company-wide initiatives such as the Drive 4UR School program.
“We bring the program to schools that are in predominantly Hispanic areas and we make our promotional activities and materials available in both Spanish and English,” explained Rodriguez.
Providing in-language materials targeted at Hispanic communities has been part of the Drive 4 UR School program for a number of years and will launch with Drive 4 UR Community this spring.
Ford’s Hispanic marketing efforts also support Warriors in Pink (WIP). The WIP website is available in Spanish and Spanish-language ads are created each year.
“Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latina women,” explained Rodriguez. “It is important for us to reach out to the community to help increase awareness about breast cancer and help educate Hispanic women on the importance of early detection.”