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August 2012

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Hispanic Marketing

By Toti Cadavid

Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million, which was a growth rate of 43% - 4 times the growth of the mainstream population. This accounts for over half of the 27.3 million increase in the total population of the United States during the same period. With these staggering numbers, it’s no surprise marketing agencies everywhere are scrambling to target this crucial demographic.

However, it’s important to take into consideration the subtle nuances within the Hispanic audience before you embark on a marketing initiative of any kind. One of the biggest mistakes companies do is assume that Latino consumers are one monolith when, in fact, they represent a wide array of submarkets.

For instance, 41% are foreign born. And while 77% of U.S. Hispanics speak English well, according to current American Community Survey estimates, 61% of Hispanics aged 18+ tell Nielsen they prefer to speak Spanish in their homes versus only 17% who say they speak only English.

So how do we take into account these vast differences within our target audience when crafting a marketing plan? First off, make no mistake – it’s imperative to consider these differences. A catch-all campaign won’t do the trick nowadays. Any agency saying otherwise has a lot to learn, given the ethnic and cultural breakdown of our country.

The easiest way to sum up our target segments is looking at them as assimilated and acculturated groups. Each group requires a completely different strategy and tactical approach when formulating a marketing plan.

The acculturated would be first generation Hispanics who share deep ties to their homelands and may not even be fluent in English. They typically have a high emotional need to hold on to their first culture and language and often communicate with their country of origin. For these folks, a marketing campaign that goes to a much deeper cultural level is needed, addressing core values, language, social customs, and lifestyles.

Since the acculturated customer has very direct ties to their home country, if you have a product, good or service that is designed for export to Mexico, for example, then that’s the type of customer you want to reach. Now, before you turn your nose up at this target group as being too small to matter, remember that 41% of Hispanics in the US are foreign-born.

From a business standpoint, the types of companies interested in this group of potential customers would include:
• International money transfer companies
• International long distance phone service providers
• International cable television programming networks
• International airlines
• International or multinational firms with a US presence
• Colleges and universities
• Medical establishments
• Technology firms
• International food chains
• International retail establishments and many more.
A good campaign focusing on acculturated Hispanics would be one with specific Spanish marketing messages designed to create awareness of the product, good or service. The message is also customized to speak in the format that the target audience understands and is comfortable with. A lot of the message will reach back to ethnic roots and make the connection here in the US and state how the product, good or service can help make their lives better in both the US or back in their homeland. Research must be done here, looking at local culture, social norms, shopping habits, preferences, values and expectations of life in the US.

Assimilated Hispanics are second and third generation Americanized consumers who are US-born, but still typically have ethnic and cultural ties to the homelands of their parents or grandparents. This campaign focuses more on the US cultural nuances of Hispanics, while also speaking to the cultural values that continue to resonate with them. Domestic products, goods or services making a transition into a new US-based ethnic community are more of the focus here. They are being redefined or expanded from their initial brand essences to speak to the Hispanic target audience.

Finding a subject expert who has executed marketing and PR campaigns against your target audience could be well worth the money you spend in selecting the right marketing partner. Make sure they have proven success, results and examples. Then take the time to understand the differences that they discuss with you before moving forward with this kind of marketing plan.

Toti Cadavid is president of Senku Marketing, a full service strategic marketing, public relations and advertising agency in Denver, Colorado. Toti is a native of Colombia and a seasoned multicultural communications strategist with far-reaching experience in both domestic and international arenas. ""

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