Does The Total Market Approach Really Work For Everyone?

As the population becomes more and more diverse, it’s become a huge challenge for marketers to appeal to everyone on a personal level. Many thought that the “total market approach” was a great solution to that issue, but does it really work? The total market approach can be defined as “relying only one marketing program designed to reach all consumers across both general and ethnic markets”. Many CMO’s find this approach to be appealing because it simply implies efficiency. Reaching a wide variety of ethnic markets with one campaign? Sounds pretty great, right? While that may work in some cases, “marketers still need to understand when ethnic-specific is required to drive deep relevance”. This relevance comes into play when dealing with the Hispanic population.

The United States has the second-largest Hispanic population in the world, so it’s critical for marketers to appeal to them successfully. The total market approach may seem like an easy way to connect with everyone, but several studies have shown that Hispanics feel it leads to a “one-size-fits-all” result, which basically means “one-size-reaches-none-effectively”. Simply providing a translated version in Spanish or using stereotypical Hispanic pictures in the campaign will not cut it among this population.

Pacific Business News provides three great recommendations on how to reach Hispanics far more effectively than using a total market approach:

Be multicultural: Develop targeted marketing efforts to specific, clearly defined ethnic groups. All markets are not the same, even within the U.S. markets. Make sure your campaign respects the overall brand positioning from the general market.

Be relevant: Building momentum for your brand with Hispanic consumers requires a true intent to earn an authentic relationship. Speak to their culture within the value proposition of your product and/or service offering. Make sure your message is culturally relevant to them even when you use English.

Be loyal: Once you build momentum with your Hispanic campaigns, it is important to continue that dialogue. Your efforts do not end after they buy your products. Make them feel that you appreciate their business and you care about them. This is one of the most important steps to build loyalty. People do not buy brands. They buy experiences.

One company that has embraced these recommendations is Toyota. According to Bill Fay, Toyota’s group vice president for U.S. sales, “Toyota has been the top brand for Hispanic buyers for 10 consecutive years”. He credits the company’s success to the fact that they have built equity with Hispanics over the years and continuously reinforce not only the durability of the products, but also its involvement in different communities. So far this year, Hispanic buyers have represented 14% of Toyota’s sales and account for nearly 16% of its market share.

Toyota has done several things to try and appeal to the Hispanic population, like create a Spanish version of their website, but they have recently launched a campaign specifically targeting this ethnic group. Their new gratitude campaign, “More Than a Car” or “Más Que Un Auto”, is a program that pays tribute to a vehicles’ role in the everyday lives of Toyota’s Hispanic consumers and serves as an opportunity for the company to thank its loyal customers for welcoming the brand into their families. This campaign provides Toyota owners with the opportunity to personalize their vehicles with physical name badges for free. The company has created a unique website for the campaign where owners can enter their information ( to receive their badge and see others that are participating by using the hashtag #MoreThanACar or #MásQueUnAuto on an up-to-date social media stream. Toyota owners were also encouraged to attend the Supersonico music festival, which is the first-ever Hispanic indie music festival sponsored by Toyota in California, to learn more about the campaign and receive their badges.

This site has become successful because it is focused on Hispanic cultural values and gives them a chance to interact with the brand socially. “Hispanic consumers don’t want to be “sold to” – but rather, courted by brands that authentically empower their cultural relevancy and communicate in ways that naturally resonate with Hispanic cultural values”. Hispanics have a very close connection with their families and many generations will typically live under one roof. It’s necessary for brands to respect their family values and take a family-centered approach to their marketing efforts. Toyota has taken this value into consideration by highlighting “family” throughout the entire campaign.

Family sticks together, and Latinos have consistently chosen Toyota to be part of their family. To celebrate this bond and give back to loyal customers, Toyota launched the “More Than a Car” or “Más Que Un Auto” gratitude campaign. The “More Than A Car” program recognizes that Toyota drivers see their cars as members of their families and nothing says you’re family like your own family nickname. Drivers can personalize their vehicles with physical car name badges. The raised, 3D-printed badges give fans the chance to formalize the love – and place in the family – for their vehicles”.

Furthermore, this campaign appeals to Hispanic’s social side. “Latinos own smartphones, go online from a mobile device and use social networking sites at similar—and sometimes higher—rates than do other groups of Americans, according to a new analysis of three surveys by the Pew Research Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.31.49 PMCenter”. Participants can post pictures of their badges and join the conversion about the campaign by using the designated hashtags and engaging with Toyota through its @ToyotaLatino channel. Hispanics have become known as “super-trendsetters” so it’s important to give them a way to interact online and share their thoughts about the campaign. Additionally, the site had the option to switch from Spanish to English, which is important since “second- and third-generation Hispanics tend to favor English as a starting point”.

Toyota is a great example of successfully engaging with Hispanics, but it’s important for brands to keep ethical considerations in mind when marketing to this group. Hispanics care about how marketers portray their ethnic group and it plays a big role in deciding if they will interact with a brand or not. This population wants to be respected and will avoid brands that cast their culture in a negative light. “When marketers talk about ‘U.S. Latinos,’ they cannot simply fall back on images of first-generation, Spanish-speaking immigrants. The Hispanic population in the U.S. is assimilating and transforming much faster than the speed of stereotypes, acquiring complexity as it blends old and new”. Even subtle stereotypes can undermine the effectiveness of a marketing campaign and create a negative reputation for the brand.

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One thought on “Does The Total Market Approach Really Work For Everyone?

  1. Marisa Peacock says:

    Great post! There is so much merit to developing targeted advertising to specific audiences. When brands start understanding the behaviors and influences that drive consumer decisions, it can only help to deliver better messaging, while building better relationships. The one-size-fits-all strategy rarely works and usually comes across as lazy, rather than strategic.


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