A translation de carne
CAB opens new doors in Latin markets as cultural insider
By: Chelsea Dinternman
Dressed in fashionably bright colors, she greets you with a warm hug and a bright, “Hola!”
Ana Luisa Verba is full of personality and passion, especially for Latin American cultures and premium beef. While at the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) partner Sysco for more than 10 years, she was such a fan, people thought she worked for the brand long before she was hired in 2018.
Enthusiasm for CAB matched an opening there to develop new markets.
“Everything just came together,” says the current assistant director of marketing for Latin markets. Her goal is not without ambition: To change the way Latin and Hispanic people think about beef.
“Our people LOVE meat,” Verba says. “We typically eat end meats, but we can also appreciate a good steak, and don’t hesitate to provide the very best for our families and friends.”
The U.S. market alone presents a vast opportunity to drive demand for high-quality beef, with estimated buying power of more than $1 trillion.
“The Latin market is everywhere. If we put it on a map, every corner of the United States is touched by the culture,” Verba says. “Increased connectivity has also helped spread flavors from Latin America and allows chefs to share their knowledge.”
The opportunity continues to widen beyond our borders to the South American tip and “hopefully Spain, too,” reaching out to consumers and those who want to know how to market to that segment.
CAB has focused on Hispanic markets for decades, but Verba, born and raised on Mexico’s Sur peninsula in Baja California, brings a deep understanding of cultures and traditions. Her parents, a teacher and a pediatric nurse, instilled the importance of living a meaningful life filled with learning and appreciation for other cultures.
“Our vision for Latin America is about being the leader for this segment, providing the resources they need and training them to become beef leaders themselves,” she says. “Also, it’s about being culturally relevant, which I think is an important difference.”
It’s much more than just translating the brand’s current English marketing materials.
“I challenge our team to be more intentional in where and how we focus on the nearly unlimited possibilities of this market,” she says.
Verba embodies this vision in every part of her day, bringing CAB’s cultural relevance to new sectors through her own perspective on those cultures, creating more targeted marketing materials to better resonate with those of Latin heritage and celebrate their “uniqueness.”
“Not everything that we create for our broad audience is going to be translated to this market; it’s more about trans-creation,” she says. “We’re recreating and designing original content because it allows for more intentional resources that connect and resonate with this audience.”
Constantly moving and innovating, she never misses an opportunity to take advantage of a teachable moment. You’re just as likely to learn something about the Spanish-speaking world at lunch with her as you are at one of her many training sessions.
“In Spanish or Latin cultures, we say before you eat, like a bon appetite, buen provecho,” she might explain before digging into her salad.
Her knowledge of how to reach these sectors is best seen in the training sessions she holds across the U.S. and Latin America.
“You can go from giving a Latin market-opportunities analysis to teaching them about the attributes of our brand for those who are speaking Spanish,” says Verba.
“If we are going to call it ‘Latin training’ we must bring elements for the Latin segment,” she explains. “We must focus on not only the parts that are going to show applications but give real examples of real objections they’re having in those markets.”
Verba’s passion for the brand is infectious to brand partners.
“The attendance on our Latin trainings are high,” she says. “They care about the brand so much. Once they are aware and they’re educated, they really take pride on it.”
The ability to hear it in their own language and apply more directly targeted strategies to Latin consumers makes all the difference.
“They’ve invited us again to have additional training for their sales force, and the impact on sales has been tremendous,” Verba says, noting a domino effect. “We are starting to hear from partners who have not focused on this segment at a deep level. We are planting the seeds.”
One partner that participated in a multi-ethnic training program in Los Angeles increased their CAB product sales by 30%.
The trend is moving brand sales up and to the right, with plenty of growth still to be made. Verba and her team have big plans to expand markets further.
“We really want to continue to be pioneers and start basing in those markets that we have no base in, while attending to those challenges that are coming up and preventing issues if we can,” she says.
It might sound like a lot for just one person, especially when you factor in time for family and a long commute to the office, but Verba often travels and works from her phone, too. It’s busy for sure, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love what I do. I don’t see it as a job. I see it as a lifestyle,” she says.
Originally ran in the Angus Journal.
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