Digital & Social Media

Finding – and Influencing – Latino Consumers

Finding – and Influencing – Latino Consumers
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Changes in U.S. demographics are forcing changes in the way brands market and advertise to consumers, with Hispanics leading the way.

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There are roughly 55 million Latinos living in the United States, according to a June report by the U.S Census Bureau. They comprise about 17.5 percent of the population, making Hispanics the largest minority group in the country. With more than $1.2 trillion in annual spending power, finding where and how to reach these consumers is becoming ever more urgent – and complex.

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73 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics say their cultural background influences the food and beverage brands they purchase.

Even though many have adopted English – close to 70 percent of U.S. based Latinos speak English proficiently – they still may have a different mindset than other consumer groups. For example, 73 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics say their cultural background influences the food and beverage brands they purchase. More than 50 percent of Latinos consider themselves bicultural, and 50 percent of those are under age 35.

It’s vital to ensure that when a brand connects with Latino consumers, the message is relevant to them. Called a “Total Market Strategy” (TMS), the philosophy applies to all ethnic groups.

Total Market Strategy implies a brand is reflecting the country’s diversity and the impact of multiculturalism on America’s “total” culture. It requires brands to recognize that Hispanic consumers are found everywhere – not just on niche programs such as Spanish-language soccer. While 31 percent of Hispanic Millennials are soccer fans – two times as likely as the general population – the NFL attracts more Latino viewers than soccer. It means advertising in both English and Spanish, and structuring the message so it appeals directly to Hispanic interests.

Anyone advertising in English these days must assume a good chunk of the audience is non-white.

It also means understanding that neither “Hispanic” nor “Latino” refers to a monolithic group. Some Latinos may have a high proficiency in speaking Spanish, but struggle to read or write it. They may consume English content online, but listen to Spanish-language broadcasts. And because so many have a facility in both languages, brands must follow Hispanic consumers to where their interests take them, whether it’s Spanish-language radio or network dramas. In fact, 43 percent of the U.S. Latino market consumes both English- and Spanish language television; more than 30 percent listen to radio in both languages and 27 percent consume printed material in both languages. Of Facebook’s 18 million U.S Latino users, 40 percent are Spanish-language dominant. For Twitter’s 8.1 million, 30 percent are Spanish-dominant.

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Anyone advertising in English these days must assume a good chunk of the audience is non-white. So the question becomes: How to ensure the advertising is inclusive?

Brands which have answered that question have found success. More than a third of Total Market Strategy adopters have experienced market share or revenue gains, and a quarter have experienced ROI or efficiency improvements, according to a 2013 AHAA Total Market Benchmark Study.

Brands using TMS must learn to use cultural nuances to increase relevance. That means working to find universal insights which are common to different groups and make everyone feel included. It’s important to leverage those commonalities, particularly for brands aiming at younger cohorts.

But it’s also necessary to determine when cultural differences require different strategies, such as adapting the deployment by using different imagery or visual cues, or tweaking the words so perhaps there’s not an exact translation between English and Spanish.

The digital explosion has created avenues to reach Hispanics in more ways than ever, and the idea of an inclusive, “total” strategy also is changing the way agencies work. These days, rather than setting up offshoots or boutiques that focus on minorities, agencies instead are imbedding those capabilities directly into their PR, advertising and marketing.

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About the author

Maggie Sieger is an award-winning journalist and former Time Magazine correspondent, published also by Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Realtor Magazine and Readers Digest, among others. She is the author of Deep in the Heart, the First 50 Years of Duchesne Academy. Sieger currently works as a freelance writer and media consultant in Saint Louis, Mo.