Fingers Need to Point in New Direction
Editorial by Terry Soto, President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.
With regard to the March 29 Wall Street Journal article entitled ¿Cerveza, Sí o No?, I agree there ought to be regulatory control and corporate policies
that ensure accountability and corporate responsibility to all youth, not just Hispanic. I disagree, however, with activists’ claims that alcohol companies are disproportionately
targeting Hispanic youth with their ad messages and that this has been the catalyst for alcohol abuse among Hispanic youth.
If in fact more Hispanic youth are exposed to alcohol advertising, consider that it is more likely a function of the market’s younger demographics. There are simply more young Hispanics in households being targeted by Hispanic advertising. One could also argue that Hispanic youth are more likely to consume youth-oriented content, which is more prevalent on English language media, therefore getting a double hit on both English and Spanish media. Be that as it may, it is not where I believe the problem lies.
I believe that we have to consider and examine the behavior of the adults in Hispanic households and especially those of lower socio-economic strata. Let’s recognize that there is a natural tendency for these Hispanic households to consume beer and other alcohol beverages recreationally and often; to relax, as part of family gatherings, for celebrations, and even with meals. This is clearly proving to have a much stronger impact on the drinking behavior of younger members of the households.
In a sense, parents, older siblings and extended family are unintentionally conveying that recreational drinking is okay. I think it’s easy to point fingers to outside influences, but I’m afraid that, in this case, my advise is to look inwardly at Hispanic household characteristics, behavior and parental responsibility. This, I’m sure, is not lost on the market segmentation schemes and marketing strategies of beer companies. Strong category development insight is surely a key driver for beer marketer’s spending. In this case, however, I believe it is far from an abuse of the Hispanic youth market.
Moderator’s Comment: Are companies, in general, prepared to rebut misplaced criticism with market insights that defend their position? Should marketers
be willing to present these insights even as, in this case, they point the finger back at some segment of their own consumer base, such as adult Hispanics? –
Terry Soto – Moderator