Nearly one in five Americans is Hispanic, and this segment of the overall population is becoming increasingly important in size and purchasing power. Generation Z, which is already a multicultural majority, will be more than a quarter Hispanic by 2027.
Most marketers know the importance of connecting with these consumers, and yet only 6% of overall ad spend is directed at the Hispanic community, eMarketer reports. Hispanic actors and culture are also marginalized in mainstream culture, despite the United States being one of the largest Spanish-speaking countries in the world.
Whatever the reason for this disconnect, marketers need to pay attention to Hispanic consumers — who have a combined purchasing power of $1.7 trillion — and learn that reaching them requires nuance and understanding.
Hispanics come from distinct cultures
“It’s important to recognize that the market is not a monolith and to therefore stop marketing to us as a homogenous segment of people defined in broad strokes,” Wanda Pogue, chief strategy officer at VaynerMedia, writes at Adweek.
Hispanics not only hail from a variety of countries with distinct cultural traditions and dialects, but they also have assimilated to varying degrees. Some people of Hispanic origin have lived in the United States since before it was a country. However, others are new immigrants. Where people shop, how they bank, what they watch and whether and how they consume social media varies depending on these factors.
In short, marketers cannot reach Hispanic customers in one fell swoop.
For example, an advertising campaign in Spanish may be effective in reaching some people in this target audience. But only 32% of the community is dependent on the Spanish language or has a bilingual preference, according to Claritas. The research firm has developed a Hispanicity metric to measure “the degree to which people of Hispanic heritage in the United States have retained elements of their Hispanic culture.” That means English or “Spanglish” — which is English with culturally familiar Spanish words peppered in — may resonate more depending on which part of the Hispanic community a brand wants to reach.
Further, marketers should be thinking beyond language as they craft messaging that resonates culturally, Rebecca Dossantos writes for Colibri, which helps companies enter multicultural markets. Learning about the culture, food, music and sports preferences of target audiences can go a long way towards establishing connection. Using influencers of Hispanic origin can lend campaigns authenticity. It also can avoid embarrassing faux pas like trying to reach a Cuban population in Florida with an ad in Mexican Spanish dialect, Dossantos adds.
While marketers may be tempted to lean on holidays such as Hispanic Heritage Month to reach a wide swath of this segment, that may be too broad of an approach. Many Latino community members are more inclined to celebrate holidays that are specific to their subculture, adds Ed Morales, author of “Latinx: The New Force in Politics and Culture,” on eMarketer.
Look inside and out for Hispanic marketing help
Ultimately, brands must be able to follow through on any marketing efforts for them to work.
“If you’re marketing specifically to Hispanic consumers, you need to make sure you are ready to serve them throughout their journey as a customer,” Donald Williams notes at Forbes. “If, for example, you begin running advertisements in Spanish, but you don’t have any Spanish-speaking employees, you will be setting this community up for disappointment.”
Marketers do not have to go it alone in trying to navigate the nuances of multicultural marketing.
For example, the Hispanic Marketing Council’s “Hispanic Market Guide” offers demographic details and research-based cultural insights, including a deep dive into Generation Z members.
Also, in 2016, the Association of National Advertisers launched the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing with the goal of making multicultural marketing free of bias, imbued with cultural insights and backed by research and understanding about different customer segments. The group aims to enhance “the relevance, effectiveness and impact of multicultural and inclusive marketing in order to legitimize connections with consumers and, in turn, maximize business growth.”
Such aspirations are attainable for brands when they approach a culturally distinct segment with respect, sincerity and a genuine desire to understand how that audience can benefit from the product or service being offered.