September 2012

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It needs to be pointed out that marketing is not the problem, but just the opposite – it provides solutions to people who need them.

There is good marketing and bad marketing, and the kind of manipulative push sales and marketing practices depicted in the cartoon is the kind that gets everything wrong.

A close analogy is political speech. I received a flyer from the Republican Party that did nothing but defame his Democratic opponent in the most vague, prejudicial sweeping generalizations, replete with polemical hot button rhetoric like “He went along with Obama’s tax and spend policies that are bankrupting the nation.” What does that mean, exactly?

By contrast, the right kind of political speech is that which gives me the facts and allows me to use my own judgement to decide for myself.

  • If a candidate has a case to make for himself, let him lay out his platform (rather than deliberately vague, dishonest claims.)
  • If a candidate wants to make a case against his opponent’s position, let him explain the details and make a reasoned case about why the opponent’s proposals would not be the best.

In financial marketing we have a rigorous little function called Compliance. The net effect is that if it isn’t true, it doesn’t get advertised. It’s odd to think that there is no such rule in politics.

As egregious as character defamation politics is, no one among us would condemn the concept of free speech. Like marketing, free speech is not the problem. but the solution. The problem is manipulative, dishonest speech.


Related Post:

Propaganda vs. Marketing

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Advertising Slogans Lost in Translation

from American Demographics

Here’s why it’s not about translation, but trans-adaption.

Braniff slogan: “Fly in leather.”
Spanish translation: “Fly nude.”

Purdue slogan: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”
Spanish: “It takes a horny guy to make a chicken hot.”

Pepsi’s slogan: “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life.”
Chinese: “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

Coca-Cola: the name Coca-Cola
Chinese characters: “Bite the wax tadpole.”
(later changed to characters that mean “Happiness in the mouth.”)

Clairol: “Mist Stick” curling iron
German: Shit stick (mist is slang for manure.)

Snap! Principle of Multicultural Marketing:

It’s not about translation. It’s about trans-adaption.


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Acculturation Model

The U.S. Hispanic Market

Tony Malaghan, CEO of Arial International in University Place, Washington (  points out the importance of the U.S. Hispanic market:

Huge: Hispanic population is projected to nearly triple, from 46.7 million to 132.8 million from 2008 to 2050. In other words:

  • The U.S. Hispanic population share will double, from 15% to 30%.
  • Thus, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic.

Diverse: U.S. Hispanics come from more than 22 different countries and, although there are cultural similarities between the sub-groups, there are also differences in attitudes and behaviors that marketers  need to acknowledge to best serve the interests of these consumers.

Language Use Differences: The use of Spanish is of course an obvious difference between the U.S. Hispanic market and the mass market. However, the use of Spanish vs. English varies within the Hispanic markets. Some Hispanics  only speak Spanish; others choose to speak Spanish over English; others prefer English; and others almost exclusively speak English.

Cultural Differences: An important element often overlooked with respect to the U.S. Hispanic market is the differences that exist between the sub-groups that comprise this segment of the market. These differences include country of origin, differences in Spanish use and dialect spoken, differences in food, music, holidays celebrated, etc.

Acculturation Differences: The process of acculturation has a major impace on these market segments.

A Multidimensional Process

Malaghan cites a 2004 dissertation by Cecilia Alvarez from Florida International University titled The Acculturation of Middle Income Hispanic Households  in which she notes that acculturation is a multidimensional process. Individuals change along various dimensions of social functioning. Alvarez defines consumer acculturation as:

A dynamic selective process generated by the contact of a consumer with a different consumer cultural orientation via acculturation agents or facilitators, through which the consumer adapts to the new culture. This adaptation is expected to be reflected in the consumers’ behavior, affect and values.

Acculturation generates changes in three levels of functioning:

  • Behavioral – includes behaviors like language use, customs, food consumption.
  • Affective – includes emotions that have cultural connections; for example, the individuals’ feelings towards their country of origin or towards the U.S.
  • Cognitive – includes individuals’ belief systems and fundamental values

So, how does acculturation affect consumer behavior and the approach to targeting and servicing this segment of the market? Let’s look at the 3 levels of acculturation.

Why Acculturation Matters

  • Past generations of immigrants had their children leave old world customs behind for the process of assimilation.
  • Acculturation is the process of incorporating or acquire a new culture without foregoing another one.
  • Hispanics do not “assimilate”, they “acculturate” without letting go of customs and/or language

3 Levels of Acculturation

Hispanic Market Segmentation

The three segments by Acculturation Levels are:

  • Non-Acculturated: Persons that only navigate within the Latino culture. Most of them have recently immigrated to the U.S. and prefer to speak Spanish
  • Acculturated: Persons born in the U.S. of Hispanic descent. They prefer to speak English and can navigate into the Latino culture
  • Semi-Acculturated: People that can navigate in both cultures.

How fast will the market acculturate?

The speed at which this will take place depends on these three major factors:

  • Time: the longer they live in the US, the longer they are exposed to a new culture and are able to incorporate it into their everyday lives.
  • Education: the higher their education level, the easier the understanding of another culture will be.
  • Socio economic status in country of origin: the higher the socio economic status they enjoyed in their country of origin, the higher the likelihood that they have been exposed to other cultures, thus enabling a faster and smoother transition

A Rapidly Evolving Market

Hispanic Market Segments Size

Situational Acculturation: It is important to bear in mind that acculturation can also be “situational.” Companies truly interested in segmenting the Hispanic market can further defining the situational acculturation levels of their consumers. Some people can be considered unnaculturated/bilingual/acculturated 100% of the time while others can go through these different states throughout the day.

For instance, a person can be fully acculturated at work where he or she behaves and consumes products very much in line with the general population, but at home speak Spanish. Yet he may watch both Hispanic and English-speaking television and consume non Hispanic products.

Suburban Hispanics: A Consumer Dynamics study from Acxiom Corporation shows that the Hispanic segments are changing rapidly. For one thing, the rapid expansion of Hispanics into American suburbs presents opportunities for marketers who can better understand the rich cultural diversity and purchasing attitudes of this segment.  The study reveals:

  • Hispanic suburban expansion is projected to continue.
  • The Hispanic market encompasses four distinct Hispburbanite groups.
  • Marketers have above average growth opportunities in areas with high concentrations of Hispanics.
  • Marketers should segment this culturally diverse group for maximum marketing impact.

Generational Factors: Hispanic Millennials bring a new set of characteristics to the mix. Since Latinos will account for more than 80% of the growth in the population of 18- to 29-year-olds over the next few years, they are now a key demographic for marketers, who will need to take into account the rapid changes under way in the composition and characterstics of the population of the Hispanic youth.

  • English Language TV Preference: Since they are for the most part are now the children, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren and beyond of Latino immigrants, 73% of 18- to 29-year-old Latinos watched English-only television or a combination of English and Spanish language television in the past seven days, and only 4% watched Spanish-language television alone.
  • Highly Connected: Hispanic millennials are nearly 66% more likely to connect via mobile than non-Hispanic Caucasians, and nearly twice as likely to own a tablet such as an iPad. They are just as likely as other millennials to be heavy Facebook users but almost twice as likely to use YouTube.
  • English Language Reading and Online Preference: When Millennial Latinos read magazines or visit websites, English predominates. They are more likely to read English-language magazines alone then they are to look into a combination of English and Spanish magazines (28% vs. 21%). Online, 18- to 29-year-old Latinos are even more likely to choose to visit English-language websites alone rather than both English- and Spanish-language sites (38% vs. 25%).
  • Close Cultural Ties: Still, Hispanic millennials maintain close ties with their cultural heritage. The Pew Hispanic found that among the U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants, country of origin is still important. Hispanic millennials are also more likely to still be living in their parents’ home due to the economy and delayed marriage and children trends, as well as the fact that Latinos in general are the most likely to live in multi-generation homes.

Marketers targeting Hispanics therefore need to develop complex and sophisticate marketing strategies to reach this very complex market.

Marketing and Service Implications

Essentially, the more exposed Hispanics are to behavior and beliefs of the host country, the more similar they become in consumption patterns of the mass market. However, Alvarez reminds us that acculturation can be bilinear, which means that a segment of the market may choose to be Hispanic with respect to certain behaviors and beliefs and in sync with the U.S. mass market in others. This presents marketers and customer service managers with challenges and opportunities to serve their unique needs.


Generational Segmentation: One way to segment the U.S. Hispanic market is by generation: there are new immigrants, first-generation U.S. , second-generation, etc. This approach assumes that the longer a person has been in the U.S. , the more their lifestyle choices, and response to marketing stimuli, and purchasing decisions should reflect those of the mass market consumer.

Multidimensional Segmentation: This fails to factor in the bilinear multidimensional aspect, resulting in the 3 levels of acculturation: low, high, and bicultural. Developing more in-depth segmentation categories allowing for the bilinear multidimensional influences, coupled with research, will provide marketers an added advantage over companies that segment solely by the generational approach.

Customer Service

Trans-adaption Capabilities: Once the Marketing Department has advised Customer Service where a consumer falls anywhere on a continuum from new immigrant (unacculturated) to bicultural/multicultural (acculturated), they may choose to speak Spanish, English, or switch between the two on service calls.

Bilingual Capabilities: To effectively serve the segment, companies need to deveop a bilingual customer service infrastructure. Best practices, cited by Malaghan, provide the following:

  • Testing language skills to recruit competent and fully bilingual staff
  • Bilingual training and certification for appropriate “Business Spanish”
  • Certification of bilingual call center operations to benchmark and delivering services to best practice standards

Case Study: Banks Face Acculturation Challenges

Latino banks spend more than a year teaching their underserved Hispanic customers how to use the ATM machines because most of their customers have never used one. The bank needs to play a role in acculturating them into American society.

The following chart shows some key differences in the bank services that different Hispanic customers would be inclined to use, by acculturation level.

Hispanic Market Segment Characteristics

Snap! principle of Hispanic Market Segmentation:

In targeting and retaining U.S. Hispanic customers, companies must be willing to 1) invest in the market intelligence required for successful segmentation and 2) provide the servicing infrastructure to gain a competitive advantage in these segments.

How many social media gurus does it take to change a light bulb?

It’s not about the change- it’s about engaging people in conversations about it.

Photo: How many social media gurus does it take to change a light bulb?</p><br /><p>It’s not about the change- it’s about engaging people in conversations about it.
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Employers Incorporate Brain Games into Wellness Programs

(My thanks to Michael Conforme, Talent Performance Expert at GCT Partners for directing this to my attention.)

Katherine Reynolds Lewis writes that some employers are expanding their wellness programs to include brain function exercises to help employees manage stress amid the increasing demands on their time and attention.

She reports that Nationwide Insurance employee Jeanne Siersdorfer  is logging hours of computer time online at work balancing a virtual basketball while other objects fly across the computer screen. But Nationwide actually encourages her to play the game as a part of its wellness plan.

Surely You Kid?

Don’t call me Shirley. These games are produced by a company called Brain Resource as part of a wellness solutions package called MyBrainSolutions that are intended to teach concentration and stress management techniques to boost executive function and memory, increase positive thinking, and achieve other brain-enhancing goals.  The solution is recommended for jobs that rely on knowledge work, creativity, and communication skills, which require that workers be mentally sharp, emotionally present, and free from distraction. Gregory Bayer, chief executive of Brain Resource says:

The brain, we’re finding out, is much like muscles in the body. If you exercise it, it gets better. You actually grow neurons. If you can teach people how to manage those multitasking and stressful environments optimally, you’re going to preserve their health.

Beyond the immediate benefit of improving brain function, the suite of games can work in tandem with other wellness programs to help individuals achieve other health goals, such as weight loss, exercise, or quitting smoking. Employees can set goals within the MyBrainSolutions software and track their progress, in addition to working on cognitive areas that will help them stick to the plan.

What’s the Methodology?

MyBrainSolutions users begin with an assessment of their brain to provide a baseline along four axes:

  • Emotion
  • Thinking
  • Self-regulation
  • Feeling.

Based on the resulting profile, the software suggests specific games to build up the areas of cognitive function that are weakest. The system then tracks users’ progress, giving points for playing time and badges when users reach milestones.

According to  Jesse Wright, a psychiatry professor at the University of Louisville whose research on computer-assisted cognitive therapy was cited by Brain Resource in a white paper on the scientific basis for the program, this is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):

Wide spread use of CBT computer programs does have the potential of helping people who do not have psychiatric illness but could benefit from the practical strategies of CBT to enhance problem solving, stress management, etc. A caution is that people with real problems such as depression would likely need genuine, well-constructed help programs to relieve symptoms.

What’s the Need?

David Nill, vice president and chief medical officer at electronic medical records provider Cerner Corporation introduced MyBrainSolutions as a pilot program this summer to offer support to a workforce of about 9,500. The pilot will eventually expand to its global workforce as far as India, where seeking mental health care carries a stigma.

Reduction in Health-Related Costs: It’s a key area of interest at Cerner because behavioral health issues such as depression and anxiety affect 30% of their employees and family members and cost about $2 million in health expenses. The most expensive cases, which represent about 5% of Cerner’s workers, involve stress-related conditions, according to Nill. He says:

Usually, people don’t engage in this type of activity until they’re not functioning well; they’re headed toward a diagnosis. Brain Resource brought on an ability for consumers to engage any time, any place, on their own terms without having to talk to anybody. I’ve been aware of the science for quite a while. It’s very compelling. It’s cognitive behavioral therapy; you’re just doing it without them having to sit in a therapist’s office.

Now if only we can distract those corporate efficiency experts with games, we might be able to save some jobs.

Show Me The Money!

Wellness Results
The fun, game atmosphere of MyBrainSolutions helped Nationwide achieve goals, contributing to greater effectiveness of the broader wellness offerings. For instance, it made the employee assistance program (EAP) more appealing and stigma-free.
Nationwide’s results after introducing MyBrainSolutions in 2009:
  • EAP use at Nationwide Use skyrocketed to 18.4% in 2011 from 7.7% in 2007  (that year’s industry average was 4%.)
  • Nationwide’s percentage of obese and overweight workers declined between 2010 and 2012.
  • In 2012, for the first time more than 70% of the population became low risk.
  • The high-risk population fell to an all time low of 7%.

Cerner’s results:

  • Over 1,000 employees signed up for the program within the first two weeks and currently there are 2,500 users, more than Nill anticipated.

Self Development Results

At Nationwide, a case study found,  based on self-reported responses to Brain Resource questions, that workers who played the games regularly:

  • Increased their positive thinking by 5%
  • Boosted social skills by 8%
  • Heightened their emotional resilience by 9%.

Bottom Line Results

Nationwide’s bottom line improved as well, according to these self-reported results:
  • 8% improvement in productivity
  • 7% decrease in absenteeism

Kathleen Herath, associate vice president for health and productivity at Nationwide states that the best outcomes are when people are doing this along with another program:

If I’m trying to do a weight loss program, learning what motivates my brain and how my brain functions is the key to helping change my behavior.

Optimist: “The glass is half full.”
Pessimist: “The glass is half empty.”
Marketer: “The glass needs a redesign.”
Compliance Officer: “The glass needs a disclosure label.”

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