Immigration debate: Lessons for marketers

14 Apr 2006|spalacios

No matter where you stand on the controversy that surrounds the current immigration policy debate, the April 10th massive display of Hispanic demonstrations reinforces some very useful insights for marketers. In particular, the demonstrations provide key lessons for cultural values, the macro trend of globalization, and effective communications tactics.

Cultural Values – on display throughout many of the major U.S. cities last week was the strong notion of Collectivism that permeates Hispanic culture. Hispanics tend to think in terms of group, or collective interest rather than individual interest. When threats to family and community are perceived, the group responds. Thoughts of parents being separated from children, for example, are not tolerable. Lesson: understanding the cultural drivers of your audience is essential to success.

Globalization Macro Trend – as seen in much of the political punditry on the immigration debate, the macro trend of Globalization was on full display last week. For better or worse, depending upon who you are and what your political/economic views may be, a central tenet of the immigration debate relates to international labor flows to meet market demands.

Much of the so-called “pro-immigrant” commentary from the political left and the political right rationalize the undocumented/illegal immigrant presence in terms of economic requirement. Much of the focus of the debate has been political rather than economic. In our research with Hispanics, including undocumented Hispanics, we have found that people seek to pay taxes. In fact, many undocumented immigrants obtain tax ID numbers because they want to be a legitimate part of the global economy. Public policy, as obviated by the very debate, has a long way to go to catch up to the facts on the ground. Lesson: transnational consumerism has a future beyond the upper classes.

Communications tactics – say what you will about the legitimacy/illegitimacy of the demonstrators’ perspective, but one should be awed by the massive display of people in a coordinated fashion, turning out in so many locations. When has this happened of late? Not since the civil rights/Vietnam War marches in the 60’s and early 70’s really. Not to belittle the issue of the demonstrators, but from a marketing perspective it is fascinating to see the power of Radio in particular, as well as small scale Print media and perhaps most powerfully Word of Mouth that propelled these typically silent members of society to voice themselves so powerfully and on such a large scale. In LA, it was Spanish-Language radio stations that were responsible for mobilizing the masses. Key lesson: Relevant messages will find their way quickly through this community of close to 50 million consumers.

prev next