Sears recently announced several social media efforts aimed at the Hispanic market, including new Facebook and Twitter programs. (It already has three separate Hispanic Web sites, including SearsPR, launched last year, which ships merchandise only to the island of Puerto Rico.)
Marketing Daily caught up with Oscar H. Castro, director/general manager of international e-commerce, for more details on how the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer hopes to woo the rapidly growing, social-media loving Hispanic market:
Q: How do Hispanic shoppers differ in terms of social media use?
A: Social media is such an important channel for us right now; Hispanic growth on Facebook is eight times larger than the general population, and we know that Hispanic consumers spend more time on it each week as well. So for us, it seems the best thing to do is work with that higher level of engagement. We’re not creating these forums to push products so much as to build stronger relationships. And it’s pretty exciting. In two weeks we’ve gotten 16,000 fans, and a great level of engagement.
Q: But does that mean there is also an increased appetite for retail in social media?
A: Yes, I think Hispanic culture really is different about shopping. It’s much more of a family activity; the whole family goes out to the mall. They are more social about shopping, in general. They want to have more conversations. We want to join the conversation.
Q: Are there gender differences?
A: Well, younger Latinas are more likely to shop online than older women, or men. But other than that, there are not a lot of major differences.
Q: Is it effective for a marketer as large as Sears to focus on a single Hispanic market, when there are so many submarkets?
A: There are so many differences, and that’s what makes Hispanic marketing so difficult. Facebook is a great equalizer, and you can have general conversations with broader appeal. But there are many cultural nuances. What works for a Dominican audience may not for a Mexican one. So some of our efforts are extremely local.
We launched SearsPR.com last year to serve only the Puerto Rican market. We use local terminology, and a completely separate marketing program. Sears offers 290 million products online, and of course, our mission is to help our customer find things anytime, anywhere. But there are items on this site you can’t find in the continental U.S.
Q: Why so many different initiatives?
A: This market is large and projected to grow even further, and we are leaders in it. It’s not going to be a niche market, it’s going to be the U.S. market. And I can’t think of too many brands that have been very effective. McDonald’s now leads with its diversity insights, and Coca-Cola has done a great job in the Latino market. And I think we’ll see more Latin brands crossing over into the mainstream — like Corona beer.