The Accidental Entrepreneur, A Hispanic Business Journey
One fine day, an older gentleman (he was then my current age) called and said he wanted to talk to me about an idea to do TV commercial testing for the Hispanic market.
I did not know this man and honestly, I didnt have any room in my budget to take on a new employee much less a whole new program, but I was willing to talk to him if only out of politeness.
His idea was indeed intriguing.
We had the market knowledge and the infrastructure to take this on, and he had a connection to a company that he used to work for that did this work in the General Market.
Together, with him as the connective tissue, we could pull this off. Well, what the hell? He was willing to try this and only get paid if it worked and I was willing to give it a go. So we did.
This gentleman talked his old colleagues into talking with us and they came to visit, were impressed with our knowledge and infrastructure, and we consulted together to develop a methodology that would work. They tested the waters with their clients and they seemed interested, so we began the process of building a normative database.
That means we could evaluate the scores for these commercials not in a vacuum, but compared to enough other tests so that we could state with statistical confidence that an ad was better or worse compared to all the other ads we had tested.
Once that was done, we began to launch full-scale studies.
Slowly but surely advertisers got wind of this and decided that the Hispanic market was important enough to them to invest in getting their ads right.
The Hispanic business we built is called copy testing, and it involved calling random samples of Hispanic consumers. The process required multiple contacts with the survey participants, which was complex and costly but extraordinarily effective at predicting in-market performance.
So big companies, very big companies, started using this service and continued to do so for nearly a decade and a half.
Why did this work so well?
Because we stumbled upon a big hole in the marketplace and a huge un-met need. Lots of work was being done in the General Market and norms and standards of excellence were well established. But in the Hispanic space, no one was doing this in anything resembling a serious manner. We saw the opportunity; we built the capabilities and did a really good job.
This product survived one technology shift VCR to DVD, but it did not survive the landline to cell phone switch.
After five years with this project, what seemed like a great event happened a very large global company bought out our partners. Our contract for this Hispanic work was picked up by the global giant but the relationship changed forever.
Ultimately another decade later, they proved to be at once our biggest source of revenue and our most imminent threat.
Next- A balancing act
About the author
Carlos E. Garcia, born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively). He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research. Most recently SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm.Website