Allstate: A Minority in Executing Sophistication of Communications with the Hispanic Market

Anyone taking a physical survey of web sites of Fortune 100 companies will find a noticeable lack of multicultural or even bilingual versioning, sections, pages or separate micro sites. I find this lack surprising particularly considering the projected growth in available Hispanic consumers in the United States.The Hispanic market segment was specifically chosen for discussion because of its potential impact on future marketing efforts:

  • Hispanics are among the United States’ fastest growing consumer segments, and are currently the largest ethnic minority group in the US at 14.7% of the population. And the pace at which it is growing is expected to continue through the next half century.
  • Hispanics as a group are younger than non-Hispanics, and are part of families with a higher concentration of children under the age of 14.
  • Hispanic online usage is growing more rapidly than usage by the rest of the US population.

It is unfortunate, but these perceived gaps in how website owners address their target audiences are supported in research literature. While some companies will have permanent or temporary sections containing Spanish language content, this content is often difficult to find even when using a company’s own site search. Coca Cola, for example, requires you to visit the site map to find a Spanish Language version of their US site, despite making it fairly simple to find sites targeted to different countries they market in.

Sites reviewed included large companies in the fields of consumer packaged goods, electronics, banking, insurance, communications and retailing. One site I found that handles communications with the Hispanic audience well is that of Allstate Insurance Company (AIC)http://www.miallstate.com/ . Allstate hosts a comprehensive Spanish version of its site, one that mirrors of the functionality of its English counterpart, yet exhibits key distinctions aimed at a Hispanic/Latino audience.

The graphics and key phrases of featured discussions on the page present different trains of thought than the site designed for English speaking counterparts. Emphasis on family, issues surrounding family, and taking care of family is an important consideration within the Hispanic community. The Allstate site recognizes and speaks well to this component of Hispanic culture, as well as to the high proportion of teenagers and young adults in these households.

For example, the English site talks in one panel to snowmobile, the Spanish to extreme weather and hurricane preparation. The Spanish version also has more emphasis on family, and auto insurance offerings to adolescent drivers; the English contains references to online security and community works.

The extensive level of educational material related to insurance that is available at allstate.com is also important to the Hispanic consumer. In terms of information gathering, this group compares to the Anglo consumer of the 1950’s. When purchasing a car, Hispanics consult an average of 4.2 sources, a number which is three times the overall national average. Other sources for Hispanic consumers are often newspaper and magazine reviews and print advertisements.  With the growth in Hispanic internet usage, it is probable that the internet plays a big role also, particularly with the younger crowd.

The Allstate site also clearly highlights their social site connections (twitter, Facebook and YouTube) on both language versions. This is significant; as Hispanics are equally avid social networkers when compared to their non-Hispanic peers and are the most likely group to use SN tools to keep in touch with friends and family.

Historically, Hispanics have received personalized attention below its level of potential due to a number of factors.

  • Negative perceptions of Hispanic time online: This is a pattern that is rapidly changing and improving as noted throughout this document. One additional indicator of this changing landscape is that 56% of Hispanics who are SN users visit MySpace more than once a week.
  • Negative perceptions of Hispanic Computer Ownership: This is another area where the tide is changing direction. Fully 70% of Hispanics have at least one PC at home and 12% access social networks via their phone.
  • Perception of Hispanic income levels: While average Hispanic household income is lower than other segments of the population, it too is growing, as Hispanics enter the second and third generation in the US.

 

Perhaps the most difficult hurdle to overcome with Hispanic consumers is buy “style”, with style implying quality, brand and prestige. This implies a very tangible social benefit, but to Allstate’s detriment, insurance has little or no intrinsic social benefit.

It is therefore very important that they build a relationship with this consumer that fosters trust and intrinsic loyalty. The current Allstate site makes a strong play in that direction. The company needs to build on that direction in other marketing channels and in operational execution.

 (Author’s note: I do not represent Allstate in any way, nor do I even have any insurance products through them; I just thought they built a highly relevant site. MT)

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2 Responses to “Allstate: A Minority in Executing Sophistication of Communications with the Hispanic Market”

  1. John Ferraro Says:

    Mark, I am presently working White Plains NY, a suburb of NYC and have noticed two phenomena similar to this. First, most of the service industry jobs in this area are held by Hispanics (restuarants, lawn care, janitorial workers, etc.). And of the three malls within walking distance, there is a remarkable distinction in customers. The small White Plains mall on Barker Ave. is left to dialysis services, flea markets, an old watch shop and an oriental grocery market. A few blocks away on Main St. is the Galleria, where low to mid-income people go. I noted today that perhaps 6 out of 10 people here were not Caucasion and I heard a lot of Spanish in stores, on TV monitors and even on some signage. A few blocks away from that is the upscale Westchester Mall, home of Nordstoms’, a Whole Foods store and many European designer shops that I haven’t shopped at (Ferrigamo’s, Nieman Marcus, an Apple store et al). Better dressed (read as higher income) people frequent this mall and yet several of the workers notably had Spanish accents. Truly, the most dominant second language in the US is becoming Spanish. Why haven’t adults like you and I started to study it in order to speak it?

    John

  2. mtietbohl Says:

    Very good question, John. I’ve tried a couple times, but never stuck with it. I think one side of me recognizes the practical positive benefit, while another somewhat resents needing to, as there are many other things I prefer to learn (and are easier to at my age).

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