U.S. Hispanics are a cultural and economic powerhouse. They make up more than 15% of the U.S. population — and over the next 40 years, that figure will increase to more than 30%.
Yet many firms do little or nothing to try to connect with this growing audience. Maybe the problem is just that many organizations still aren’t sure how to create meaningful engagement with a Hispanic audience. Armando Rayo of Cultural Strategies spoke on the panel at the Gov 2.0 Expo, sharing advice on how organizations of all types can better understand and engage with Hispanic groups.
A few of Rayo’s key points:
- Recognize their diversity. Hispanics are often discussed as if they were a single group, but a grandmother from Puerto Rico living in New York City has different experiences than a single Mexican man living in rural Texas — or a second-generation Cuban student living in Miami — and the list goes on. Instead of trying to speak to a generic Hispanic community, try to develop a more detailed picture of who you’re trying to reach and tailor your message to those people, he says.
- Don’t just translate your English ads into Spanish. A literal translation will rob your message of its power, as idioms and shades of meaning get lost along the way. Instead, Rayo says brands should “transcreate” their messages — rethinking them from the ground up with a particular audience in mind. When you’re transcreating your message, remember to take regional dialects of Spanish into account. Depending on who you’re trying to reach, the word “car” might translate as “carro,” “coche” or “auto.” Even some Spanish words mean different things from one country to the next. “Ahorita” means “right now” in Guatemala — but in Costa Rica it means “later.”
- Think beyond Spanish. Not all Hispanic-Americans speak Spanish all the time. According to a 2006 report by National Consumer Study and National Hispanic Consumer Study, just 55% of Hispanics say Spanish is their dominant language. The same study found that 21% said they spoke English most of the time — and another 13% say they speak only English.
- Focus on the culture. If you want to connect with a Hispanic group, it’s vital you find ways to connect with their cultural values, Rayo says. Traditions might vary from one group to the next, but the importance each group places on their culture is one of the few things that most Hispanics have in common, he notes. Studies show that many of the strongest traditions have their roots in the family or in food, Rayo adds.
- Remember that a little goes a long way. Creating a message that speaks to a Hispanic audience does not mean it must target them exclusively. Rayo points to a Dr Pepper commercial — which contains just a second or two of a Spanish-language song — but resonates well with Hispanic audiences, he says, because it makes the brand seem inclusive.
- Give them something to do. Rayo emphasizes that — much like any group — Hispanics communities respond best to campaigns that inspire them and equip them to become active. Strive for a true conversation, he suggest, but don’t let it stop there. Find ways to help your new fans turn their engagement into action.
Image credit, JulNichols, via iStock