Q & A with Featured Expert

A Q&A with Dr. Alexandra DeCastro Arrivillaga Ph.D., MBA, Founder/CEO of LatinTouch Agency

Chestnut Hill (Boston), MA

The word consulting is used quite a bit in the business world. There are consultants for almost every industry, and those who consult must be experts in their fields. With so many in the consulting space, why would one want to become a consultant? How can he or she stand out in the fierce pool of competition? Authenticity. A person can gain knowledge and experience in their niche but knowing the nuances of the niche truly shows his or her expertise. Authenticity also reflects a person’s character. There are plenty of consultants who just want to land a client and make a commission. The person isn’t invested in helping a client achieve his or her goals. There is no personalization or customization in creating a strategic plan. When Alexandra Arrivillaga started her first business, Lock It Up, she took a different approach to consulting because she was in a field that was dominated by men. Alexandra took it upon herself to know everything about security and communications. She chose to work with smaller businesses because they would need the products and guidance that would only be available to larger corporations. She also knew how to work with her employees to guarantee the best work from them. Ms. Arrivillaga employs the same business strategies and determination with her latest endeavor, LatinTouch Agency. The consulting firm focuses on strategy and diversity consulting to ensure Latinos are positively represented in all businesses.

Here, Alexandra answers questions on her consulting process and LatinTouch Agency. 

What is LatinTouch Agency?

Latin Touch is a strategy and diversity business consulting firm that strives to ensure the Latino community is positively represented in all businesses. We do work that promotes inclusion and community and to reflect Latinos and women in a positive light not as a stereotype. I started Latin Touch because diversity information is needed now.  

What did you learn from your first business, Lock it Up Security, that led you to start LatinTouch Agency?

I started a relationship with Fortune 500 companies in 2009 when I had my company Lock it Up Security LLC(that sold in 2015 for an undisclosed amount, making national headlines). Through Lock it Up Security LLCI single handedly, as a woman, put up all the cameras for all the Walmarts of New England. Then Pandora, Home Depot, Old Navy, Gap, Churches, Exito, CVS. The smallest job was 150 cameras on one job site. I broke through a male dominated industry. I had 50 Independent subcontractors working for me all at one time. I met the bosses of these companies when signing contracts. Then I started consulting in the Hispanic market. I worked on diversity awareness through data to see what would capture the market in Hispanic neighborhoods. I worked with middle managers to lessen turn-around which helps in productivity. I worked with other companies to solve complex issues as diversity economics through advertising and product placement to gain sales in products that were underselling in Hispanic neighborhoods.

What are some things about Hispanics and shopping habits that you tell retailers? 

We are receptive to the Spanish language in advertisements, which makes us feel comfortable. The company respects our heritage and wants our business. Hispanics shop in groups and with families; the stores need to open their aisles for strollers and carry Hispanic Items (e.g. tortillas) to cater to the demographic, so it makes us feel welcomed. For example, Home Depot placed the drinks in the areas I consulted – they were moved to the front instead of the back of the store. Also, we like to see ourselves reflected in the things we buy, as in packaging and signage.   


Let’s say I am a client and I am trying to understand your company. How will hiring a consulting firm help me to come up with a solution? 

The job of consultants is to take an outside look at the inside of a company. We analyze the problem at hand given by the organization, observing the environment and then implementing corrective actions. We report on our findings of the problem based on our experience and study in the field of management as well as our own life experiences. You cannot give specific information if you have not experienced the issue first-hand. I specialize in the areas I consult (e.g. diverse strategic planning). I am knowledgeable in this field because I have been creating consulting strategies since 2015. 

What are some of the steps in the consulting process? Do you advertise?

I go into the organization, more specifically the area where they are having problems. I analyze the area and formulate a strategy. I then present my findings in a report for implementation. I studied business with an emphasis on psychology, so I can create a solution that gets to the heart of the issue. Dealing with diversity can be an emotional experience. You cannot let your emotions cloud your business instincts. Business practices can be cold if they are not personalized. That said, I consult with an intuitive approach with a spiritual awakening added to the mix. While in the store, I speak to customers (Latinos) and ask for candid feedback. Their feedback is the foundation for my recommendations. As for advertising, most of my clients are referrals. 

What can you do for my company? What is the first action you would take?

I can revive your organization. By helping your company overcome its current challenges, you will be able to increase revenue and, in the process, reshape your company’s image as being cognizant of all cultures – and welcoming them. I provide management consulting to help organizations like yours improve their performance and efficiency. I would analyze your business and create solutions as well as help achieve its goals. The first action I would take would be to get your company’s view of the issue. 

What services do you offer?

Strategy and marketing consulting in innovative ways through the eyes of Latinos, particularly millennials.  

Who are some of the companies you have worked with? 


Home depot


Old Navy


CVS Pharmacy

What geographical area and demographic do you target? 

I focus on the greater Boston area and young Latinos (i.e. millennials).

How can someone get in touch with you?

Phone: 857-777-6283 (business), 1-774-285-6234 (cell)

A Q&A with Ashleigh Williams, Research Director​ of C+R Research

The African American Consumer – Trends, Statistics and Marketing Insights on the African American Shopper, Homeowner and Parent

By Ashleigh Williams, Research Director​ of C+R Research

What are the key statistics or trends or state of mind of the African American shopper that corporate brand marketers need to keep top of mind as they make the plans now to target this consumer group with advertising in 2020?

9.5% of the homes in the country are owned by AA which is slightly lower than of African American percentage of population in the U.S (US Census 2019). Although this stat is lower we believe ownership is increasing due to increased levels of education compared to previous generations. Recent trends allude to a move back to the south and into suburban neighborhoods with data showing blacks moving from the urban Northeast/Midwest to the suburban South and West (US Census 2010). Homeowners is mostly concentrated in the South where they own 15% of the homes (US Census 2019). Since 2009, the black population has increased 2% in the South (from 55% in 2009 to 57% in 2019) (US. Census). We attribute this to lower cost of living and a feeling over acceptance and confidence in culture compared to previous generations. In addition, this data shows that growth isn’t occurring in the major metropolitan areas, but in the suburbs. Two-thirds of this growth occurred in the suburbs (approximately 67%) (In Plain Sight 2012). This new data completely shifts what we think we know about black families in America (households are becoming less urban and more suburban). Therefore, marketing strategies should shift the future to reflect  suburban environments and not solely urban context that AA consumers are typically targeted in.

Specifically when it comes to AA parents/ households with kids…

  • AA Parents particularly want to uplift their kids and give them a leg up (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018)
  • They focus on education and faith as family-centric activities at home (more likely to say a favorite activity with child is praying/going to church, and helping with homework) (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018)
  • In addition, they particularly focus on teaching their kids values around giving back (more likely to be teaching children to help give others a hand too)…
    • Most interested in having children involved in homeless shelters/soup kitchens, and also food pantries (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018)
    • AAA consumers will specific notice brands that reflect these values and aspirations for future generations. They tend to invest in brands that give back and support a cause that’s meaningful.

What are the Current Trends to Keep In Mind:

Redlining: We have been seeing the social conversation around the AA family and HH growing in this new political climate. Awareness of redlining when it comes to home ownership to keep certain neighborhoods segregated has been a strong topic of conversation.

Solutions + Reparations: The history of redlining has been present for decades but political leaders are taking notice and introducing/discussing solutions on how to reverse these bias via legislation. The possibility of reparations are included in these talks to help to bridge the income gaps between cultural cohorts.

What are some insights , drivers , influencing factors the African American retail shopper (visiting home Improvement stores)? 

One of the most intriguing trends marketers are tracking is the increase of black spending power which has been on the raise over the past decade. “Black spending was reportedly $1.3 trillion in 2017 and is projected to increase $1.54 trillion in 2022 (21% estimated growth, vs. 20% for the total U.S. and 18% for non-Hispanic Whites) (Nielsen 2018: From Consumers to Creators – The Digital Lives of Black Consumers).” As we mentioned previously, black consumers are making the move to the suburbs. How is this connected to their spending power? A typical suburban Black family’s median income is 41 percent higher than that of a Black family living in the city and 76 percent higher than for a typical Black family living outside a metro area (2010 American Community Survey). In addition, suburban Black households are more likely to be married couples which means two income households increase their potential spending amount(In Plain Sight 2012). We predict that black families will have even more disposable income than previous generations and will seek brands that value their dollar (reflect and represent their culture specifically in communications and the products they offer).

In terms of AA parents as consumers, they over index NHWhite parents in terms of “my child asks for a specific brand” for the following categories:

·        Candy

·        Chips 

·        Cookies

·        Ready to eat snacks/meals

·        Juice/juice drinks

·        Snack bars/granola bars

·        Headphones

·        Sports drinks

·        Fruit snacks

·        Pop tarts/toaster pastries

·        Frozen pizza

·        Restaurants where the family will go to eat

·        Tablet computers

·        Travel destinations/hotels

While most of these categories are CPG focused, we see a trend within AA households that children play an influential role on retail purchases overall (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018).

AA consumers are known for being early adopters of technology and home tech is no exception. We know AA consumers are more mobile optimized than other cohorts. But in addition, AA consumers are now more likely  to include new tech devices integrated into their homes (like Alexa, Google Home, Nest, game consoles, smart TVs, etc.).

  • 54% of the AA population are age 34 and younger have lived entire life in the digital age (Nielsen 2018)
  • African Americans over-index for all things done on a smartphone, with a higher reach for social networking. (75%), video (66%) and audio streaming (45%) on their smartphones. They also spend more time listening to radio, with the average African American spending over 13 hours weekly listening to the radio. (Nielsen 2018)
  • In addition, they are also more accepting of technology for their kids. Parents are especially prideful about child’s knowledge of technology, and less worried than NHWhite parents about child relying too much on technology (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018)
  • When it comes to getting inspiration or seeking DIY/home improvement advice, we see no significant difference from other segments in their interest in DIY websites compared to their cultural counterparts (YouthBeat® Total Year 2018)

Ashleigh Williams
Research Director​
C+R Research

Daisy Expósito-Ulla: A Powerful Voice

Last week’s selection among the 25 Most Powerful Women by PEOPLE En Español, puts Daisy Expósito-Ulla back in the public eye. Seeing a U.S. Hispanic advertising and marketing business leader, recognized alongside Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui and Univision’s anchor María Elena Salinas, serves to call attention to Expósito-Ulla’s community involvement and civic role. HMW explores the latter aspects of the Chairman- CEO of d expósito & Partners, which was recently chosen by the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF) as 2015 Agency of the Year.

What makes a businesswoman like you a “Most Powerful Woman”?
I wish I had real power! The power to end hunger or to heal the emotional wounds of a child refugee separated from his or her family. My power is tiny. But I guess distinctions like PEOPLE’s probably pay attention to the fact that I believe in so much more than “strictly business.” To me, life and business go together, especially because the ethics of both are intertwined.

How does your view translate to what you do in advertising in the U.S. Hispanic Market?
To begin with, I always try to add a dimension to that concept: There is no Hispanic Market without a Hispanic Community. We, as an industry, are simply a humble derivative of community. We are a bridge to our Hispanic Community for Corporate America and that entails social responsibilities to this group. This is very much a differentiator that explains the way we function as an agency. We don’t separate market and community but see them as a whole. Hispanic Market is merely the result of marketing terminology.

Do clients share the same view?
Fortunately many of them do! In our case, AARP sees itself as an agent of change and an enhancer of opportunities for prosperity for the 50+ segment. With McDonald’s, in our Northeastern region, we are proud of our collaboration on their ongoing initiative to provide college scholarships for graduating high school students, the Becas HACER. And ConAgra, as you know, is deeply involved in a food drive effort against hunger. Look, we live in a hyperconnected world. Companies cannot be deaf or disconnected…

How do you envision both the market and the community connecting?
Rather than “connecting,” I see the two of them as inseparable. The brands that know this are the ones that do better. We have a mission as mediators to our community. We and the brands serve benefit from their business and their loyalty. If they do well, we do well. The poet Pablo Neruda spoke of “la miel de los felices,” the “honey of the happy ones.” In other words, as I see it, we owe it to ourselves to be there for our community –both in the happy and the less happy times they may go through. There are times in which I wish we could be more vocal for them, especially when they are attacked, when they are suffering, when there is no honey or happiness…

Basically, what you are saying is that brands and people in your business should position themselves closer to the community…
Exactly! Consumers should be seen and felt as people –not just as statistics or transactions. There is a new book by Gillian Tett, she is with London’s Financial Times –the book is called The Silo Effect. She lived briefly with a tribe of goathearders and she had brilliantly extrapolated her anthropological experience to some good and some terrible aspects of the tribe’s shared behavior. From goathearders to avarice driven Wallstreeters. The silo mentality, as Gillian Tett says, can be dangerous. And this can be applied to any of us as individuals and to almost every company out there. It’s real.

We recall some of your initiatives within the Hispanic advertising industry, which of them remains closer to your heart?
I’ve always believed in the power of education, before and as far back as when I headed AHAA and we were able to forge a very strong pro-education initiative with The White House. But my passions include many other causes: the arts, human rights, community support organizations, industry-related organizations. Many of these are shared with my agency colleagues. Needless to say, this is a vision I share with my life and business partner, Jorge Ulla. And perhaps, above all this, there is a calling to help mentor, guide and empower young people coming into the communications industry. Some may argue I tend to favor women, which I will not contradict, but I think I can be pretty inclusive as far as supporting people waiting for opportunities. It’s our future!

Judging from your answer, education remains a primary goal of yours. Some of us in the industry have seen you from maternity to rearing your son Gabriel who is now a writer for some major publications…
It wasn’t easy but, through his childhood, we had the support of two sets of “abuelos”. It’s beautiful how Hispanic culture can provide that family infrastructure which can also guarantee language continuation. I was constantly traveling on business and so was [my husband] Jorge [Ulla], who also had to travel a lot as a filmmaker. All in all, we belong to the fortunate few which makes us doubly obligated to give back to society. Gabriel went to Browning, a school with which we have an affinity of values. We cheated quite a bit and took him on work trips with us but that served as homeschooling and exposed him to the world. It was out of necessity but it paid off. He was lucky to go to NYU and now to Columbia. He knows this makes him part of a miniscule group of privileged people, that we need to help others as much as we can. He has that kind of social conscience of millennials.

We see both your name and your husband’s on the board of Repertorio Español. We know you are also involved with food kitchens, charities of different sorts that you don’t talk about…
No, no, I’d rather not! And I know we are not alone –many people in our industry have huge hearts. In the case of Repertorio Español in New York, well, it’s public domain and we love what they do in defense of our Spanish language. Our language is embattled these days, it’s being attacked as part of a xenophobic wave. Regarding other causes, I truly believe in empathy and solidarity. Pope Francis I, or as we call him, El Papa Francisco, speaks of solidarity, subsidiarity and love. His message could be the most beautiful message to advertise. That’s what I call power! And we wield the power to have a better business, a better industry, a better country and a better world…

This article originally appeared in the Sept 27, 2015 issue of Hispanic Market Works http://hispanicmarketworks.org/newsletter/daisy-exposito-ulla-a-powerful-voice/.

A Q&A with Steve Millerman, President & Founder of EMCAY, a "Pharma-cultural" Agency

MMR:  Tell us about Emcay, the agency services and your cultural focus.
Fundamentally, we are a full service multicultural advertising agency; however, all of our services are customized for the pharmaceutical industry from a communication, clinical Steve Millerman, President & Founder, EMCAY regulatory perspective.  From a cultural perspective we cover various cultures such as US Hispanic, African American, Asian, Russian, and other groups.  Functionally speaking, we provide DTC as well as healthcare professional services that we believe are required to have a successful pharmaceutical cultural strategy.  Examples are strategy and analytics, creative, traditional and digital media, production, medical education, advocacy management, just to name a few.
MMR:  When did Emcay open and why did you decide to focus on the cultural aspect?
We opened in 2013.  Personally, I grew up in the pharma industry working from small to big pharma companies in sales and brand leadership roles.  I have always seen the opportunity within the US multicultural market segment but could not believe how little pharma leveraged this highly targeted area.  In 2013, I left Novartis, where in my latest position I led multicultural marketing across Novartis brands, to pursue this passion across the industry.

MMR:  What do you mean by "pharma-cultural"?
That term came about naturally as we service the niche consisting of both industries, e.g. pharma and multicultural, and ultimately that's what we do: we are a pharma-cultural ad agency from the inside out.  It's a term that we coined.

MMR:  What do you feel differentiates the agency the most?                                                                                                                                                        
Well, our overall agency capability is specifically designed to service pharma companies focusing on cultural market segments.  It's a double specialty merged into one.  Whether it's creative, media or anything else, we are specifically designed to correlate Rx dynamics with cultural landscape.  Everything we do is designed for this pharma-cultural niche.  Our Strategy and Analytics are truly one of a kind.  We don't just do campaign strategy, we help design the entire pharma-cultural capability.
MMR:  Who are your current clients?
We actually don't publicize who are clients are, including on our website.  We believe that investing in multicultural marketing is such a competitive advantage that we prefer not to reveal that in public forums. What I could tell you is that about 80% of our clients are top 30 pharma companies, about 20% are other agencies servicing pharma companies where we support the work.
MMR:  While many agencies are taking the opposite approach and are looking to expand their expertise as well as focus across industries, you seem to be going the other way with your laser focus. Why did you decide to take this approach?
I am a big believer in being really really good at one thing vs pretty good across the board.  I think focus is everything and that's something that is reflective in our thinking, our team, and our work.
MMR:  Tell us about your team and culture. 
Our culture is highly entrepreneurial, visionary and energetic.  The team is everything.  The team makes the agency.  We all know what happens to the account when key people are no longer on it.  You can be the biggest agency in the world, but if you don't have the right people on the account the work will suffer.  We have a great balance of client and agency experience coupled with significant experience in both pharma and cultural advertising.  We also provide quite a bit of training around our capabilities to ensure that unique aspects of the services are reflected in everyone's work.
MMR:  Steve, last year you won the PM 360 Marketer of the Year award for your multicultural work as a game changer for the industry. How did this recognition impact the agency and the work you do?
I can't say the win changed what we do, however, it was very important for us to see the industry recognizing multicultural marketing work.  The win also added quite a bit of credibility to our methodologies.  We are truly grateful for getting that honor.
MMR:  What does the name Emcay mean? Is that an acronym?
Actually, it's not, I named the company after my kids Emma, who I call "Em" and Caden, who I call "Cay".  We all put in some crazy hours sometimes, but never want to lose sight of what's most important.
MMR:  We know that Emcay has expanded this past year. How do you feel the agency is doing? 
Yes, we are having a very good year with some great new clients as well as bringing some terrific people on board.   I believe our highly specialized offering has really resonated with the industry.  In just over two years, we have had the chance to service many very large brands either through other agencies or directly.  When we do get the time to present our case live and the opportunity for the brand, there is a very strong positive response.
MMR:  What's next for EMCAY?
Our goal is to continue to evolve our role in this pharma-cultural world.  There is still a lot to do and there is never a shortage of ideas, new capabilities and opportunities.   I know that given the opportunity we can make a tremendous difference for our clients and in turn patient lives and that makes it a worthwhile journey. 
Contact information for Steve Millerman: 201-868-8867, steven.millerman@emcay.net