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From C-Suite to Main Street: Walmart and Paragon Honda Share Local Marketing Tips

By Roberto Ruiz, EVP - Research, Insights and Analytics

Whether communicating with the Hispanic consumer or with non-Hispanics, connecting with local customers continues to be ever-important for any brick-and-mortar retail business.   At our recent Leading the Change marketing forum, we were joined by two marketers who experience this every day: Javier Delgado-Granados, director of Marketing for Walmart, and Brian Benstock, VP/GM of Paragon Honda/Acura, the largest Honda dealer in the world.  In a fireside chat with Roberto Orci, CEO of Acento Advertising, the two executives shared insights from their brands on the importance of bringing national strategies to the local level to effectively reach Hispanic consumers:

#1: Be Relevant to Your Shopper

Any national strategy has to be relevant to the local consumer, both executives said.  For Walmart, that means making sure their national “Save Money. Live Better” message translates to the local market via comparisons to local competitors, which they did in recent years with their ambitious Local Basket Challenge.  For Paragon, it means developing in-language creative for Hispanic consumers that showcases the cars in their backyard and speaks to them in a respectful and empowering way.

#2: Don’t Underestimate the Value of the In-Store Experience

No one knows the shopper better than the local store staff, Delgado-Granados said, and for that reason, Walmart has a clear-cut strategy that empowers local operations leaders to provide shoppers with an experience that feels organic to their communities.    “We have 5,000 stores, and each of those store managers has the flexibility to say, ‘Okay, this is what my customer needs here.’ And that says a lot about how we… care for the customer.”

#3: Get in the Customer’s Pocket…via Mobile

Given the fact that most consumers (and Hispanic consumers especially) are usually about an arm’s length away from their mobile phones, it’s important to capitalize on that relationship at retail.  It’s a powerful tool even for existing customers, Benstock says, allowing his dealership to be agile and engage them in an ongoing relationship via apps and mobile ads when they are in-store and beyond.

#4: Solve for a Need and Build Trust

Both Paragon and Walmart see the value in providing real solutions for their customers at the local level.  Walmart’s national Savings Catcher app is the customer’s local savings solution, allowing shoppers to scan their receipts in store to find out whether any products could be found somewhere nearby for less.  Taking that work away from the consumer, Delgado-Granados says, deepens the level of trust.  And, despite the fact that auto buying is a completely different process, Paragon operates similarly, contacting customers directly only when they can offer them real value, instead of just trying to sell them something.  “If we can take a customer out of their current car, get them a better car and lower their monthly payment, don’t we have an obligation to do that?” Benstock asked.

#5: Hispanic Message Consistency is Imperative

Even though they operate very different businesses, Paragon and Walmart have something very important in common: they both view the Hispanic shopper as integral to their growth and success.  Benstock says, “Hispanic marketing… it’s integrated into everything we do.”  This strategy certainly pays off: 65-70% of Paragon sales are to Hispanic consumers, in a trading area with 45% Hispanic population composition.  “It’s not a toe in the water, toe out,” Benstock added, “You have to be there consistently.”

Walmart, which has openly talked about the growth they see from the Hispanic consumer, echoes this sentiment: “We see [Hispanic marketing] as a strategic opportunity,” Delgado-Granados said.  He added that it all comes down to treating Hispanic customers with respect: “That’s what matters. Being honest, being relevant, being true to ourselves and what our brand represents to them.”

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Brian Benstock of Paragon Honda can be reached on Twitter at @bbenstock, or on LinkedIn.  You may reach Javier Delgado-Granados of Walmart on Twitter at @javiermdelgado, or on LinkedIn.

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