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How HSN is targeting Hispanics on mobile to gain a competitive edge

(Posted on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:48AM )
HSN’s innovative Univision partnership to reach Hispanic consumers via a mix of content and commerce across channels recently came out of beta, with mobile driving 60 percent of the awareness for the effort.

The home shopping network decided to double down on the Hispanic market after realizing several important areas of cross-over with its offerings. Recent findings from a PwC report suggest that mobile will play a bigger role for marketers in targeting the Hispanic market, with these consumers more likely to access coupons, bank, make a payment, watch videos, use location-based apps and text more than non-Hispanics.

“The Hispanic strategy as a focus has really been in the last year,” said Sean Bunner, vice president of new business development at HSN, St. Petersburg, FL. “HSN has traditionally not targeted a particular demographic or even local regions.

“I have not seen people focusing on this as much,” he said. “There are a lot of reports revealing things like that Hispanics shop at The Gap and a lot of the places that other people like to shop so I think that people rest on their laurels and little bit and say , ‘Oh, that traffic is going to come here.’

“When you dig a little bit deeper, loyalty to a brand or a retailer is significantly higher in his population than to the general population. I think being a leader and being ahead is really going to be an advantage of HSN over time.”

Late in 2013, HSN and Univision launched in beta Boutique Univision, una tienda de HSN as a fully-integrated experience promoting HSN products and supported with a comprehensive marketing campaign across HSN and Univision television, digital and social media channels.

Now that the responsive Web experience has come out of beta, the commerce element is fully supported by HSN.

Here, Mr. Bunner discusses why Hispanics are an important demographic for the brand going forward and how it is tailoring the HSN experience to meet the needs of these consumers.

Besides the growth in the Hispanic market, what other factors encouraged HSN to make this demographic a strategic focus? 
HSN really focuses on women and an upscale woman who is a shopper. Her lifestyle and home are important to her.

As we looked a little deeper into the Hispanic market, there are more than 11 million Hispanic women in the U.S. that are over 35 and that group is growing four times faster than the U.S. population. As we look to get the message of the HSN brand out, it is a very important group for us to reach.

A lot of the categories or the software side that HSN accelerates on , products for your home, electronics, mobile, fashion, entertainment, community, things that if you pull any marketing study related to Hispanics, you are going to find those words and use cases, those are all things that are a part of our business.

We saw a lot of parallels in our business, we saw a lot of parallels in our strategy.

To kick that off and the public facing side of the strategy is our partnership with Univision and that site, Boutique Univision, which we launched and are growing with Univision.

What role and how big a role is mobile playing the Univision partnership? 
It is a centerpiece and more so in the future. I don’t know that all retailers are seeing this, but HSN with the type of customer that we have that is very engaged, we obviously sell a lot of electronics and have a big part in educating our consumers in how to use them.

Mobile is a very vast part of our business. It is now over 50 percent of our entire business. It is becoming the majority of all of our digital traffic.
We were already focused on mobile. This customer, a lot of times it is the primary device that they see their world through. So it is a nice marriage. We didn’t have to change our strategy, we just kind of had to direct our strategy in cooperation with Univision.

How are you making consumers aware of the program? 
One of the components of our deal is that we get guaranteed placement across Univision’s digital properties in shows like Despierta America.

On the digital side, it is twice the weighting that you would normally see in a campaign to mobile versus desktop. There mobile ads appearing on Univision mobile properties directing them to the boutique.

We are seeing more than 60 percent of the awareness for the experience coming from mobile within Univision’s network. That is significantly higher than a typical campaign. That is an early learning. We want to evolve through how conversions look across channels.

Increasingly in the future, the actual commerce store itself is going to have more and more of a specific place in mobile. We have the exclusive right to power their ecommerce store.

The site has a combination of things that are specific to their network.

Right now, we have a World Cup promotion with Coca-Cola that we wouldn’t necessarily run on HSN. And then we have the best curated everyday assortment of products that we think are right for that audience.

The site is also part of their Web site but it is fully powered by HSN. The transaction itself happens on HSN.

Increasingly in the future we will probably take that transaction to Univision, but right now you come to HSN and then check out through normal HSN methods.

Were there any challenges in bringing this experience to the mobile user? 
There are always challenges and that space is evolving. Responsive design is something that we have been doing for some time. That enables us to have it not be a science project every time that we want to figure how do we make the experiences relevant and work the right way for the consumer.

Responsive design is where we are at now. In the future, we will look at is there a custom experience that is right for that consumer on Univision that is mobile specific.

You know how difficult content management is on your own properties but doing that with another large media company – so we worked through a lot of that process. The site we launched is now fully powered by HSN. We have the ability to update content in real time. That is evolving along with our merchandise strategy throughout the summer.

How is the site catering to the needs of the Hispanic consumer? 
Experience is perhaps the most challenging part of this. Univision knows how to do their experience that is relevant for their customer, we know how to do ours. So that has really been a lot of the learnings for the first six months, is marrying those two. We know that we have to look and feel a little bit different to be relevant in the future. It is nice to learn that from a company like Univision.

We are looking at when should be doing something like site translation, when should we have other Hispanic specific options at each stage, we will learn that through our partner.

An early example was our exclusive launch of the Sofia Vergara fragrance. We took some exclusive access to that community.

There are some products that we sell – national brands, beauty products – that are perfect for that audience. There are other areas where we are going to have holes and whites spaces. So learning that now and heading into the back half of this year, we are really trying to bring on the right partners and bring brands that will be relevant to that audience.

How do you expect the strategy to evolve going forward? 
The learnings that we are going to get during ht rest of this year on usage patterns, I am particularly interested in. There are two ways to cut it: the device itself – pc vs. tablet vs. phone - and then the application itself - is it an app or a mobile site.

We see on our site differences that are sometimes dramatic in the categories and the percentage of sales for electronics vs. fashion, for instance.

We see pretty significant differences between the HSN app and the HSN mobile optimized sites. I want to see, do I see those same kinds of learnings on the Univision side. And then really how do we adjust heading into 2015 to be more relevant and more targeted.

By Chantal Tode

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