Multicultural Marketing

April 28, 2016

The face of the U.S. is changing; it’s becoming more diverse and more urban, largely led by the nation’s booming Hispanic population. According to the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans are now 17 percent of the population, which translates to more than 53 million individuals with a projected $1.5 trillion consumer spend by 2015. Furthermore, this population is young, tech savvy and socially connected.

With statistics like these, it’s hard to imagine that brands aren't racing one another to knock down the door of the Hispanic consumer. The truth is they are … but slowly. While the numbers are compelling, successfully engaging this audience is sometimes easier said than done. The terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably to describe a group that’s anything but interchangeable. Hispanics hale from 18 countries, each with its own culture, history and unique variation of the Spanish language. Developing messaging that resonates with Hispanics is important, but it can be easy to overgeneralize.

Don’t just translate. Simply translating material into Spanish often isn't enough; rather, it’s imperative to understand the culture in order to find a similar message that will resonate with Hispanics. A recent story on National Public Radio highlighted some of the mistakes officials made when trying to enroll California’s Spanish speakers in its new healthcare exchange. Instead of taking a step back to see what would appeal to Hispanics, Covered California simply applied the same messaging it used for the general market and translated it into Spanish. The result was messaging that didn't speak to California’s Hispanics, and the campaign was a big (and expensive) mistake.

Be specific. This community is diverse, not just in country of origin, but also in acculturation (how much they identify with U.S. culture and their Hispanic culture) and language preference – one campaign won’t resonate with 50 million people. It’s important to avoid describing Hispanics with broad strokes and instead, tailor your messaging to reach a specific audience and culture within the community.

Commit for the long term. Engaging Hispanics takes time and effort. It should be viewed as an investment as opposed to a one-off campaign. All too often, brands will start a Hispanic outreach campaign, and when the community isn't loyal to the brand overnight, outreach gets scrapped. Remember, it took time to get your brand to where it is today within the general market. Hispanics are looking for brands who are genuinely interested in the community, and a quick, one-off campaign isn't enough to build long-lasting relationships. The Hispanic population is growing fast; investing now will deliver profitable results for years to come.  

Written by Chris Lucia