Five Things About the Hispanic Market
by Luis Garcia

What's all the fuss about the Hispanic Market? Sure it grew 58 percent in only 10 years so perhaps marketers suddenly see why $600 billion in buying power can be beneficial. But is that reason enough for the nation's marketers to suddenly go crazy over a niche population?

Yes and No. First, yes. Marketers should go crazy. Hispanics are what has traditionally been considered a "niche" or minority population, but with some 36 million people, they account for 13% of the U.S. population. (One must wonder if the term "niche" market still applies). Hispanic births also account for one out of every five babies born in the U.S. today, and will continue to grow faster than any population group (alongside Asian/Pacific Islander) for at least the next 10 years.

But at the same time, as marketers we need to make sure that we do not miss the bigger picture. As each generation of Hispanics matures in the United States, the phenomenon known as "acculturation" begins to take its toll. In other words, Hispanics born in the United States or living here for a long period of time (usually 10 years or more) are more likely to adapt to and begin to live a more "American" lifestyle. This includes acquiring "American" media habits, which generally means mainstream programming and media vehicles. So going crazy over Hispanics might not be necessary at all. Instead, some marketers should see how they can begin to incorporate Hispanics into their existing business plans, making specific cultural augmentation only as needed.

Given this complexity, what exactly should marketers do as they begin to consider the Hispanic market for their clients? Here are five key considerations:

  1. They live next door to you.
    Take a good look around. Hispanics are not segregated somewhere else, eating tacos and listening to Mariachi music. Chances are you work with them, play with them, court their business, perhaps even carpool with them. Hispanics are joining the middle class in high numbers, and as their median income rises beyond the current $35,000 a year, they will come to represent even higher numbers of suburbanites and, what we would otherwise call "ourselves," the American Middle Class.

    What does this mean to your business? Look for media beyond Spanish language or traditional "ethnic" outlets. Look for media that touches the Hispanic as a consumer, not just as an ethnicity. It also means that you should be weary of radically changing your branding strategy if you plan to target Hispanics for companies selling goods that are universally needed, like soap or toilet paper. In these cases, consumer needs should always be the primary focus for your branding. However, make sure you do not disregard specific ethnic learning that might help you create an appealing positioning to Hispanics - you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  2. They really like their families. No, really.
    While most of the country dreads the family reunions that the holidays bring, Hispanics embrace and love opportunities to get together with family. Family is probably the number one priority in most Hispanics' lives, and while that may sound a bit like a stereotype or cliché, it ranks as "numero uno" consistently across studies conducted by reputable researchers as The PEW Charitable Trust and Isabel Valdes & Associates. So as preparation to market to Hispanics, make yours a family friendly brand whenever possible and consider that your message may be touching more than one generation. This is particularly important to consider if you are marketing goods that require complicated legal jargon. Often times, it is the "educated" school-aged kids, not the intended parent target, who ends up reading and explaining the materials.

  3. They like to talk to people longer.
    Customer service plays a big role in how Hispanics measure affinity for a retailer or service provider. Oftentimes a Hispanic consumer will spend more time on the phone with a customer service representative than your "Average General Market Joe". So, if your company has a consumer support system, consider hiring bilingual consumers, or train your staff how to take the opportunity to build consumer loyalty during these "extra" long calls. Another thing to consider is to make the most out of the Hispanic desire to converse and share information by asking them to refer you to people they know. Word of mouth is often and underused, but very powerful vehicle in the Hispanic market. While the natural desire is for word of mouth to happen, well, naturally, marketers should incorporate the strategy whenever possible to reinforce brand trust and loyalty to Hispanics.

  4. They like free things.
    Yes, everybody likes free stuff, but Hispanics seem to respond to promotions in greater numbers than other groups. Whenever possible try to incorporate an integrated approach to your plans that includes grassroots or promotional elements to drive Hispanic traffic and product trial. Things like sweepstakes, raffles and samples are all good ways to, not just get the attention of the Hispanic market, but to support branding efforts. And remember, grassroots events present a great opportunity to accumulate demographic information on your target when they fill out sweepstakes forms.

  5. They might need a hand in understanding what you do.
    Hispanics are sophisticated consumers of some product categories, but they lag behind in others, like financial services and healthcare. It is vital for you to assess whether you need to enter the market with educational materials prior to any call to action. Other categories to consider educating about before launching call to action marketing include: legal services, "organic" foods, computer programs, and real estate.

Remember, Hispanics are not isolated consumers, but robust and curious shoppers like the rest of us. The only difference is that to get their attention amid the clutter (that inevitably will follow as marketers try to get the segment loyal to their brand) you should leverage their culture without forgetting that fundamentally, their need is still that of any other consumer: to consume.

Luis Garcia is the founder and managing director of Garcia 360°, a San Antonio-based Hispanic communications agency specializing in integrated strategies. Garcia 360° helps clients assess opportunities in the Hispanic market, prepare services for their consumers/influencers, develop marketing plans, and creative to achieve business goals.

Contact Visibility Public Relations for additional information.

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