By Itzel Castillo (Brand Manager) and Chaille Alcorn (Brand Planner)
The Boomerang Generation
In the past few years, the world has become familiar with the concept of the Boomerang Generation: Young (mostly college-degreed) adults who, after having lived on their own for a time, return to live in their parental home, usually because of financial problems caused by unemployment or the high cost of living independently. However, not much has been done to tease out the differences among racial and ethnic groups inside this Boomerang Generation.
We decided to pick up the slack.
Hispanic Grads More Likely to Boomerang
In just the past four years, we’ve seen an increase of 5.3% in the overall number of 22-year-old (average college graduation age) to 34-year-old college graduates living with one or more parent. For Hispanics, that number has increased more than 13% (MRI Doublebase Study, 2009-2012).
Variables behind Their Inflated Likelihood
But why are Hispanic college graduates more likely than their General Market counterparts to live with their parents? Also, what are the culprits behind their prompter move back home, as evidenced by their initial 5.2% jump vs. the GM’s 2.3% from 2009-2010, arguably the year in which recent and emerging grads started to accept and succumb to the reality of a grim and competitive job market?
As one might intuitively assume, recent Hispanic college graduates suffer more from economic downturn. This has manifested in two ways (Simmons, 2012):
These are the basic and obvious variables behind their inflated likelihood to boomerang back home.
However, other more complex cultural factors are also at play, particularly when we’re talking about their prompter move:
The Big Insight: Hispanic Grads’ More Potent Influence on Family
What does all this mean in the context of advertising strategy? The influence of young Hispanic adults on their parents’ purchases and technological adoption has long been reported. So, naturally, as Hispanic young adults continue to move back home in increasing numbers and put off the physical emancipation from their childhood residence, their influence on family cohabitants will only intensify. And as many of these boomerangs are college-educated, their influence will involve imparting a more refined purchase discernment and an even greater sense of technological savviness.
Trends come and go, and, yes, for their moment of glory, they are valuable insights that can and may inform strategy and creative. However, what’s often more telling than a trend at face value is what lies beneath.
If advertisers don’t understand what drives the manifestation of behavior and what bigger idea is implicated, then they’re left with hollow insight that will inevitably fall flat in communications.
Reverse engineering a trend affords us the opportunity to get to know our consumer even better. Now that we’ve identified several undercurrents to and derived an actionable from the Hispanic boomerang trend, we have a greater understanding of this growing audience that can be applied beyond the context of a transient trend.
Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau, The Washington Post, Hispanic PR Pro, Experian Simmons, MRI
Non-Hispanic whites will lose their majority in the US in the next generation, somewhere around the year 2043. — U.S. Census Bureau and AP Polling
By Megan Taylor, Brand Planner
Around the agency, I’m notorious for being a sports fan. College football, March Madness, pro football, pro baseball – anything you want to chat about, I’m the person. As a sports fan, last week was a special one: It marked Opening Day for most Major League Baseball (MLB) teams.
Naturally, I’m very enthused to see my reigning World Series champs kick off their season. For you non-baseball fans, that’s the San Francisco Giants. One of my favorite things about being a Giants fan is their diverse fan base. Being half-Mexican, I appreciate the fact that the team has embraced its players AND fans, many of whom are Latino. From Latino cuisine in the stadium to selling apparel with Los Gigantes, the Giants understand the importance of the Latino segment.
San Francisco is the perfect example of how most, if not all, MLB teams should integrate the Latino culture into their clubhouse, but only some teams around the league are following that model. The Miami Marlins, for example, have incorporated the overall vibe and Cuban culture into their new stadium – with vibrant colors, music and cuisine. There is great potential for MLB to grow its Hispanic fan base, and now would be the ideal time. Overall, MLB sales have declined the last couple of seasons, and it seems MLB has not done much to combat the decline.
When you compare MLB with other professional sport leagues such as the NBA, 66% MLB players are Latino and a good portion are foreign-born (28%). The NBA, on the other hand, has fewer than 20 Latino players in the entire league (that’s 5%), but has a fully integrated Hispanic marketing campaign, éne-bé-a, that started in 2010. During that time, it successfully launched the Noche Latina (Latin Night) program, which celebrates the league’s Hispanic heritage with special telecasts and in-arena festivities, including distinctive team uniforms.
I know baseball and basketball are two different sports; basketball is high-octane, while baseball is slower-paced and lives for the big plays. Still, the NBA recognized it could further grow its big fan base by targeting, and more importantly, infusing Latino culture into the league. The NBA has seen positive gains in overall ticket sales since 2010 (up 15%), and though we can’t prove it’s correlated to Noche Latina, the effort certainly didn’t hurt.
Another sport recognizing the potential of the Hispanic segment is NASCAR. On May 5, Univision will be airing a novela called Arranque de Pasión, La Historia de Ela. It’s a bold attempt to expand the NASCAR brand into the growing Latino population. NASCAR Vice President of Entertainment Marketing Zane Stoddard believes novelas are one way to crack a market that’s been targeted for a decade (with varying success). Regardless of how successful the novela is, NASCAR is cognizant of the opportunity that exists by targeting the Hispanic segment.
Although I’ve been referencing sports leagues throughout this post, it’s a valid example of what currently takes place in the market. Some brands continue to ignore the emerging Hispanic segment and are content with their current consumer base. Other brands recognize the growth potential that awaits by expanding their consumer base. Whether it’s through a hat-tip to culture and making Latinos feel included in the brand – like the NBA’s éne-bé-a program – or an all-out embrace of a sacred Latino cultural institution (NASCAR’s novela idea), the key is doing so in a relevant and meaningful way that resonates with Hispanics while successfully impacting brands.
By Chaille Alcorn, Brand Planner
Just the other day, a second-generation coworker of mine was talking about how her family strived to be quietly Mexican in the United States when her mom was growing up.
What did that mean? Assimilation. Conformity. Do nothing to draw negative attention. Do nothing to provoke persecution. As silly and conventional as it sounds, it meant no pan dulce in her mom’s lunch box despite the plethora of leftovers at home. It meant going out of their way to purchase Wonder Bread and bologna so the kids wouldn’t tease.
But the times they have a-changed.
We always hear about Hispanics and their aspirational drive for this or that. But do you know who are aspirational these days? White Caucasians. The general population – especially Gen Y – is now marked by their aspirational drive for multiculturalism.
In other words, they’re envious. Because I’m as WASP-y as they get, I can say this. I know it’s an idle pursuit, but I covet my coworkers’ native Spanish fluency. It’s true. But as a consolation prize, I get to revel in my ability to say I work at a Hispanic advertising agency and that my coworkers have crowned me an honorary Hispanic. Don’t tell anyone, but I think it makes me more interesting – and I know it makes me feel cooler. That’s just the truth.
Why? Because being bicultural and bilingual is cool, and people are catching on: Nine out of 10 non-Hispanics view biculturalism – that is, knowing and appreciating the values of more than one culture – as a positive thing. A nearly identical number also agree that being bilingual in English and Spanish gives people an advantage in the job market (91%) and that cultural diversity enriches the United States. In fact, in every market surveyed, perceptions that favored biculturalism, bilingualism and cultural diversity rarely fell below 90% (Conill, 2012).
We’ve come a long way from the days of Hispanics not feeling comfortable putting traditional food in lunch boxes and from WASP-y parents fearing that the ESL students will dilute their child’s education. These days, parents are purposely hiring Spanish-speaking babysitters and enrolling their kids in schools that teach half the day in Spanish and the other half in English. And pan dulce in the cafeteria is a bargaining chip, not a point of insecurity.
All this raises the question that seems to be buzzing around agencies and their clients’ headquarters across America: As second- and third-generation Hispanics will largely drive the rapid growth of the U.S. Hispanic population, what is the future of U.S. Hispanic marketing?
At Richards/Lerma, we’ve taken a firm stance that is evident in our segmentation modeling approach: Acculturation in no longer this linear process in which people must lose their original cultural identity to adopt U.S. culture. The Hispanic market is not static. It is multidirectional and multidimensional. For instance, a consumer may be acculturated relative to fashion but very unacculturated when it comes to automobiles. And they don’t have to apologize for that.
Unlike the time in which my coworker’s mom grew up, the current social atmosphere not only embraces multiculturalism and the bilingualism that frequently tags along, it envies it, laps it up and wants more of it. Hispanics are free to live in both worlds or create their own, and can be proud doing so – the antithesis of quietly Hispanic.
Does this type of environment sound conducive to the fizzling out of Hispanic culture, precluding the need for specialized communications speaking to their unique and distinct enthusiasm and passions? We certainly don’t think so.
By Natalie Gover, Brand Planner
“It is a habit of mankind to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.” – Thucydides
It’s almost tragicomic that data interpretation – the most fundamental cognitive task that we use to navigate our everyday lives – is something we do quite poorly.
It is estimated that the human brain processes 400 billion bits of information a second. We are constantly inundated by data: people’s names, shopping lists, movie schedules. In turn, every piece of data thrown at us is analyzed, categorized, sorted, and then applied as we deem necessary, consciously or otherwise.
With our brains already overloaded by data, what does it mean for us when we are presented a mountain of information from which to draw conclusions? Ordinarily, people have little motivation to fill in the blanks of data; but when it comes to agency life, we are expected to deliver on nuances, insights, takeaways, and learnings. Plowing through an 87-page Simmons run, I hear my mind searching, hunting, despairing for something that will stand out – something that will give me direction, impress the client with my thinking, and justify my role as a planner.
But data interpretation is complex. The mysteries of correlation and causation are further complicated by mental sleights and logistical legerdemain. Your mind has a vast repertoire of illusions and magic tricks to keep you from arriving at true conclusions about your data; these are but a few:
Psychologically, people expect supposedly random events or data to alternate much more than they actually do. So, when supposedly random events begin to “cluster” around a particular outcome, we interpret those instances as evidence of a given case. Our innate desire to make sense of unpredictability leads us to jump to conclusions based on a small sample size rather than waiting to see what the long-term trend is.
Consider observational research: If while visiting a grocery store, we see seven men and two women enter the detergent aisle during a 10-minute period, can we safely assume that men are more likely to shop for detergent than women?
Particularly when they are emotionally or mentally invested, people have a tendency to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. The most dangerous part about this bias is that it can affect the way we collect data, interpret it, and remember it.
This bias is particularly salient in the advertising world because we often want to retrofit data to prove preexisting ideas about who the target consumer is or to back up a prepackaged campaign idea. For example, I may believe that a new product will be most appealing to Hispanic Millennial females and will seek out and apply only the data that confirm my preconceived notions, rather than starting with a wide lens and zooming in on the most promising target.
Going back to fourth-grade arithmetic, this fallacy is simply stated as: If a = b and b = c, then a = c. It’s great for math. Not so great for data interpretation. When we begin to transfer the relationship between two data points to a third, we run the risk of diluting the veracity of our final conclusion.
For example, if we know from one bit of data that Hispanic women like shopping in groups and we know from another source that people who shop in groups tend to spend more, does that mean Hispanic women who shop in groups spend more?
Acknowledging that we sometimes fall victim to illusions of data interpretation is a step toward becoming better advertisers, but it is even more important to know how to counteract their allure. At Richards/Lerma, we employ various tactics to safeguard our insights from being led astray:
Reflecting on Thucydides wise words, these mental trapdoors are simply habits in our thinking. The above suggestions are only a handful of ways to break the habit.
By Megan Taylor, Brand Planner
Most of our recent news feeds were probably filled with something pertaining to SXSW. While some may get caught up in the surprise Justin Timberlake concerts, I’d like to think SXSW brings some good topics to light.
For instance, take Google’s Glass Project demo or Samsung mentioning the development of a Smart Watch; think about the impact that will have on the brand moving forward. We currently live in an age where consumers are demanding and expecting the latest and greatest product innovations. When a brand strikes gold with one product it usually leads to product expansion. So keeping in mind the Glass Project and the Smart Watch, at what point does the brand’s ventures into new arenas begin to take away from the core purpose of the brand?
A study conducted by WPP, states: brand elasticity is likely to be affected by two factors – the diversity of the current brand offering, and consumers’ perceptions that the brand delivers broader values rather than just category-specific benefits. The former means that developing elasticity may be a long process, especially for brands with a narrow product offering, but the latter means that this process can be accelerated if the brand can successfully communicate and deliver broader benefits than simply category-specific attributes.
With that in mind, when we look at brands like Google, Samsung, Apple even Amazon, they are dominant forces in each of their categories. For the most part they have successfully prospered with their product extensions. Apple is perhaps the most famous for creating a need when we didn’t even know it existed – iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. With Apple’s next big innovation, the TV and possibly a Smart Watch, will they overreach and go too far? Though the brand is strong both culturally and in the category; is consumer loyalty strong enough to successfully propel Apple into a category like TV? To be honest, I think it’s a maybe.
What about Amazon, they have become an online retail powerhouse selling everything from books to toothpaste. Let’s not forget the successful launch of the Kindle, which tied in nicely with their book selection. This product expansion felt very natural to where the brand was heading. Now there are talks about possibly opening retail stores. In terms of Amazon’s elasticity, I struggle with the retail stores being a good fit for the brand. Apple’s extension seems to be natural as ultimately, they were expanding their technology offering. If Amazon does expand to retail, what will be the focus? Household products? Technology? Their broad product offering makes it difficult to see where the natural advantages exist for brick and mortar.
With consumer’s demands and altering habits being at the forefront of every brand’s decisions, they are trying their best to stay ahead of the curve or at least stay relevant. That being said, brands must be vigilant about how far they stretch themselves, and if anything, use the filter of staying true to their brand vision for any possible product extensions.
By Chaille Alcorn, Brand Planner
I’ll never forget my introduction to the animal we call a goat. Unlike my ranch-raised husband who grew up with unorthodox pets (yes, including goats that are apparently very difficult to keep alive), my first memorable experience with them was through the child’s story called Three Billy Goats Gruff. It’s an anthropomorphic tale of outsmarting evil for the purpose of survival that, in my young age, incited tremendous anxiety inside my little heart no matter how many times I heard the story.
More than two decades later (I’m still just as angst-y and nervous when it comes to suspense), goats have reentered my life full-force, this time in the form of a meme guaranteeing laughter every time I hit play (at least for now).
I’m, of course, talking about the latest viral video trend on YouTube: the goat remix, in which popular songs or TV clips (mainly Oprah) – usually ones that contain “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” – are intercut with footage of goats vocalizing loudly in an eerily human manner.
Shout out to the first brilliant, almost certainly neurotic mind that saw a goat scream video and thought, “That sounds like a guttural Oprah yell. I’m gonna splice some videos together.”
Unless you’re living under a rock with no Wi-Fi, you’ve seen this meme and know how hilarious and uncannily on-key these goat screams can be when thoughtfully placed.
But what intrigued me was not only the cleverness behind the meme, but also its life cycle. I was particularly interested in how one keen Super Bowl spot arguably took the trend from steaming to boiling, and how a brand benefitted as a result of tapping into a social trend at its sweet spot.
So for the sake of satisfying my personal curiosity, I did a little digging.
The first goat scream videos that we see intercut in this meme were posted almost exclusively in 2009.
Shortly after came one of the first or the first goat remix video using an Usher song. The uploader was possibly the author and instigator of the meme (little did they know).
Next up to bat was the Oprah remix, my old favorite and first exposure that has a special place in my heart.
Remixes and unedited goat scream videos became moderately popular in their own right, used to surprise and delight family members, friends and co-workers around the world (I’m being generous).
From 2009-12, these videos steadily rose in number of views and popularity. If we put trends on a freezing-to-boiling continuum, the goat meme was steaming by the end of 2012.
Then came the Super Bowl hoopla, and Doritos, like it does, kicked off its annual Crash The Super Bowl competition. After I watched Goat 4 Sale, I didn’t need to see the others to know the winner. My mental wager was set.
Doritos and Goat 4 Sale did many things right. For starters, the spot told a complete, engaging and entertaining story in 30 seconds without a single spoken word. But the smartest part about the spot was, you guessed it, the goat.
Not only did Goat 4 Sale end up co-winning the competition (along with Fashionista Daddy), airing during the big game, and ranking in the top 10 most popular Super Bowl ads according to USA Today’s Ad Meter, it pushed the goat meme over the edge. Days after the Super Bowl, goat remix videos had a distinct uptick in viewership. Also just days after the Super Bowl, a flood of new goat remixes (some of the best to date) were published on YouTube, like I Knew You Were A Goat When You Walked In and Living On A Prayer (Goat Edition).
These videos – particularly the Taylor Swift remix – blew up overnight. Go to YouTube and type in “taylor” (just “taylor”) and see what comes up on the predictive text: “taylor swift i knew you were trouble goat.”
And this is it, guys. This is how a meme dies. Don’t bother wasting energy and dreams on creating the next goat remix sensation; the window of opportunity is closing, the market is saturating. Or rather, the pot hath boileth over.
There’s an art to tapping into a social trend in advertising creative just at the right moment, and when done right, doing so has the power to build brand equity and even alter the course of social trends. And these guys nailed it for Doritos. Maybe haphazardly, maybe accidentally, but nailed nonetheless.
As marketers, let’s be inspired by this to keep our ears perked up for opportunities to leverage simmering social trends that will resonate with and surprise and delight consumers. And what better way to show our I-want-you-to-know-me-and-be-like-me hungry consumers that not only do we get them, we know their little secrets (cause they’re our little secrets too).
Finally, let’s be inspired to enjoy our goats while there’s still time.