As the 2020 US Census continues, Latino populations are expected to be reported at much higher rates. That’s especially true in states such as Texas and California, where numbers near a majority. This large and growing population drives a need to adapt marketing and sales strategies; Latino purchasing power is projected to surpass $1.7 trillion this year, and as the Latino population is generally younger, that market share will continue to grow. As a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator in the United States providing internet, TV, mobile, and voice service under the Spectrum brand, Charter Communications understands the needs and desires of that market. Vice President of Multicultural Marketing Marisol Martinez has guided the company to an understanding of the burgeoning market to deliver high-quality products and services that exceed diverse customers’ expectations.
“Twenty-one percent of the households in Charter’s markets are Latino. Those households are included in what we categorize as multicultural, together forming 39 percent of households in our national footprint,” Martinez explains. In addition to recognizing the size of the Latino market, Martinez and Charter have focused on the fact that Latino households are not simply asking for a substitution of Spanish language media and customer service. “Latino households are demanding a mix of Spanish and English language content that serves multigenerational homes at reasonable pricing,” she adds.
To meet that need, Charter created the TV and internet package Mi Plan Latino and has continued to offer one of the largest lineups of Spanish language programming in the nation. The company serves twenty of the top twenty-five Hispanic television markets and offers over eighty Spanish language channels. To further meet the programming needs of bicultural and multigenerational Hispanics households, Charter is adding more English channels to Mi Plan Latino, which will offer its customers better value for the money. Charter has also partnered with rising Latino artists—like reggaeton star Ozuna and actress Gaby Espino—to act as brand ambassadors and enhance the relevance of its marketing campaigns.
“We make sure that the Latino customers we attract have a positive, consistent experience, from call center support in the language of their choice to our website and our brick-and-mortar Spectrum stores,” Martinez says. “Spectrum is redefining what a cable company can be. We’re working hard to earn trust, so our customers can connect to their passions, people, and content.”
While Martinez was drawn to the industry to help companies connect with clients and excel in business opportunities, the ability to do so with a positive impact on diversity was a revelation. “This was a natural aha moment given my innate connection to and pride in my Dominican heritage and my commitment to diversity—not just for Hispanics but all ethnicities and races,” she says.
“Very few US companies will achieve sustainable growth until they have multicultural marketing embedded within the fabric of every department of their company, and importantly, are led by experts who truly understand how to develop culturally relevant strategies and are fully accountable for the bottom line,” Martinez continues. “This is the operating model at Charter, which is why I decided to join the company. While my team leads all the strategies and execution of our programs, we work in close collaboration with all cross-functional teams to bring the initiatives to fruition, and this support is crucial for success.”
Of course, none of that would be possible without the entire company’s engagement in its diversity and inclusion efforts. CEO Tom Rutledge and Chief Marketing Officer Jon Hargis have stood as essential partners in Charter’s commitment to D&I, through policies and practices implemented across the company. The very existence of Martinez’s team shows how deep that commitment runs.
“We firmly believe that people are our competitive advantage. I pride myself in hiring a diverse team of the most qualified, smartest people.”
“Our multicultural marketing team is an example of what Charter strives for across the company: to attract and retain the best talent in the industry, reflecting the diversity of our customers and markets,” she says. “We also work with minority- and women-owned-and-operated agencies, including our main agency, Infusion by Castells, who manages all our Hispanic and African American work. We find that contracting with such diverse suppliers allows us to leverage their insights, talents, and strong cultural fluency toward reaching multicultural audiences more effectively.”
Martinez’s commitment to meeting the unique needs of every individual customer was learned in part from her parents. Her father, who had a tailor shop in the Dominican Republic, taught her a solid work ethic, self-discipline, and commitment to excellence as he preached that every suit needed to meet the specific needs and body of each customer. Meanwhile, her nurturing mother challenged her to excel at every opportunity. “This drove me even more to stay focused and overcome any obstacles,” Martinez says. “I got my master’s at Columbia University, provided for my son as well as my parents, and embarked on an infinitely fulfilling marketing career.”
Forty-seven percent of Charter’s workforce consists of people of color, drawn from different backgrounds, life and professional experiences, and ways of thinking. More than ensuring a spectrum of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds are represented in the workforce, Charter’s culture is centered on inclusion, confirming employees feel their perspectives are valued. “Without true inclusion, you can’t tap into the benefits of diversity,” Martinez says.
Her team experiences this in the access they have to the CMO and other senior executives. Within her own team, one of the ways Martinez practices inclusion is by leaving her door open and encouraging every team member to bring their ideas to the table. “As a result, we have great team dynamics and strong collaboration,” she adds. “On occasion, we’ll even get together on the weekend for brunch and end up talking shop, brainstorming ideas on how to tackle the latest business challenge.”
This deeply ingrained focus is already showing results. Charter’s response rates, sales, and customer base have continued to grow among multicultural households. In the Latino market specifically, Mi Plan Latino has been a major driver of subscriber growth. “We’ve had successful years with positive year-on-year growth in the Hispanic market, our largest multicultural market segment, and added more focus on African American, Asian, and international marketing,” Martinez says. “My team has expanded and our organizational structure has changed to optimize our key growth opportunities.”
Some of those opportunities include expanding mobile, video, and digital marketing, developing streaming packages for a variety of Asian audiences and languages, creating enhanced Hispanic package offerings, and introducing Spectrum Mobile. Martinez recognizes that these opportunities can only be driven forward by an equally diverse and empowered team.
“We firmly believe that people are our competitive advantage. I pride myself in hiring a diverse team of the most qualified, smartest people,” Martinez explains. “After all, great leaders succeed when they surround themselves with passionate people who not only perform above expectations but also push their leaders to continuously reflect and grow.”
The RR Donnelley Team: Marisol possesses something most business leaders (and brands) would be envious of a marketing perspective that’s inherently holistic. Her uncanny ability to identify and balance universal insights with unique cultural subtleties continues to drive Charter Communications forward. She is creating relevant multicultural marketing that truly resonates. It’s inspiring to watch.