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    Live! From California

    Emcee recaps retail industry’s biggest Hispanic-themed event 

    The Hispanic Retail 360 event is barely over, and we’re already looking forward to 2012, when the event will move up the Pacific Coast Highway to El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciúncula -- known today as Los Angeles, the City of Angels. It was revealed that next year’s venue will be the JW Marriott in the heart of LA, surrounded by great food, entertainment and nightlife.

    Here’s a quick recap of this year’s event. Everyone, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees alike, enjoyed the event this year. I’ve been connected with the HR 360 Summit since 2007, and each year the content has exceeded expectations with a growing audience of attendees. This year, the event attracted more than 600 participants.

    Sponsors and exhibitor giveaways rocked the summit when Wrigley’s raffled off a guitar from the Mexican rock band Mana. The event’s presenting sponsor, PepsiCo, stole the show with dramatic and powerful displays accompanied by an abundance of product samples of snacks and beverages, which kept everyone content and energized. PepsiCo even assured that everyone enjoyed music by adding “Marichi’s Pepsi” to the mix.

    The presenters also kept the event going with their own brand of energy and insightful comments. The initial panel delved into the importance of diversity within organizations. Representatives from Target (Annie Zipfel), Safeway (Dian Emerson) and PepsiCo (Marie Quintana), led by the panel’s moderator, Alison Paul, vice chairman, U.S. retail leader and principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and representing the Network of Executive Women, discussed learnings from within their own organizations. Cesar Melgoza, founder of Geoscape, also led a spirited conversation about the changing landscape of America and the need to consider the Hispanic market in a more mainstream way.

    Thursday was kicked off by a rousing speech from Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox. The onetime head of state offered his perspective on tough and sensitive subjects for most Americans: immigration and drugs. If the former president’s commentary on drugs found its way to the U.S. media, it would keep nightly news and Sunday morning news shows in enough material to sustain their programs through the next ratings period. Fox’s unexpected boldness, unusual in a political leader, kept everyone at the edge of their seats.

    Music artist Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, followed the former president. It wasn’t an easy act to follow, but Don Armando was also in rare form with his rap and swagger. Pitbull is arguably one of the hottest artists in music today, performing songs with top names in the industry, collaborating with superstars P. Diddy and Wyclef Jean, and endorsing a slew of products. It took just a minute for Pitbull to win the audience over and for us to understand why connecting with a celebrity to reach the Hispanic market is such a compelling idea.

    John Goodman from Sears Holdings provided further insight to why celebrity collaboration can be a legitimate option as he spoke about Kmart’s connection with another hot Hispanic celeb: "Modern Family" actress Sofia Vergara. Julie Victor from Telemundo also provided more insight on how to connect with Latin youth and how they respond to entertainment.

    Jose Luis Prado rounded out Wednesday morning’s activities. Prado, the new president of Quaker Foods & Snacks North America, offered a business case that extolled the challenges and opportunities of introducing brands from Mexico to build U.S. Hispanic sensibility.

    The event’s last presentation was also a tribute to the quality of this year’s faculty presenters. We’ve heard from Terry Soto, president of About Marketing, in the past, and she always shares her passion and insights about alignment of internal resources within organizations trying to appeal to the Hispanic consumer. This year, Terry was joined by Lisa Kranc, SVP, marketing at Auto Zone. The presentation provided attendees with a real-world glimpse of the heavy lifting that goes on behind the scenes in corporate America to get aligned correctly before executing a communications plan.

    The concurrent workshops also provided multiple opportunities for attendees to gather more information about Hispanic marketing and what other companies are doing to be successful. Companies like Dieste, one of the country’s leading firms in Hispanic advertising, whose key executives, Kelly Ravestjin, account planning, and Roberto Saucedo, executive creative director, provided a better understanding of Latina consumers. Additionally, Juan Carlos Martin from Innovasport shared insights about launching a new retail stores in the U.S. market, and Alexandra Vegas from Procter & Gamble provided more data and information on successfully connecting with Hispanics and winning at center store.

    Most of the presentations are available on the HR 360 Summit website at www.hispanicretail360.com. Video of the store tours, interviews with key presenters and footage from the show will also be available shortly. If you’re looking for one conference to attend that would offer enough content to help you move your company’s Hispanic initiative forward, then the Hispanic Retail 360 Summit is that event.

    The author is the co-founder of XL Edge and a managing partner of the XL Alliance, a retail branding organization dedicated to helping business executives maximize their efforts into profitable growth. Martin also serves as the official master of ceremonies of the Hispanic Retail 360 Summit. For more information, visit www.xledge.com.

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