Hispanic Advertising Trends - 2004
by Luis Garcia

Ethnic marketing is THE new darling of the corporate world, with spending continuing to trickle to multicultural firms, we are seeing some patterns in the way clients are behaving that should be on everyone's radar. As 2003 ends and 2004 comes into play, here are a few things to help clients plan.

Trend One: Growing Grassroots

With the economy back to recovery, the war and all the financial insecurities we face, clients are looking to get the most out of any investment they make out of their 'ordinary' realm of activity. Ethnic advertising is increasingly being added to marketing plans, and tangible marketing activities, such as events and promotions that see quick turn-around, are also becoming a standard practice. More clients are asking us what festivals or community programs they can participate in. Others want to develop community relation plans and PR initiatives that can get them coverage in Latino press. Bottom-line, this year, we will see an increase in grassroots initiatives that aim to create a 'long-term relationship" with Hispanic and other ethnic populations.

Riding this trend can succeed if clients are aware of what the intent is with regard to specific grassroots tactics. For example, if you want to build those 'long-term relationships,' a small booth in a crowed event is not going to get you there. Relationships with Hispanics are built at smaller, local venues that seek out to educate or somehow help the community with an issue like education, health or immigration. On the other hand, big events are great for sampling and showing off your product lines because Hispanics go to these events with the mindset to gather and try, not to form friendships.

Remember, successful grassroots campaigns start with the mindset that the target market is a long-term business opportunity. When you do this you will see that getting involved with Hispanic customers in a way that benefits both your business and the community via grassroots initiatives, will not only help your bottom line, but also deepen your relationship with the population.

Second Big Trend: Acculturation Nation

More clients are using the word "acculturation" when speaking of ethnic communities. So are general market agencies, since it has now come to be advantageous to claim that those ethnic consumers that are acculturated should be considered mainstream customers and therefore should belong in GM budgets.

This dilemma has garnered a lot of press in the last three years and it will continue to be a trend we see among GM shops and ethnic shops as clients demand efficiency from their marketing managers. We foresee an encroachment of so called "acculturated" Hispanics by GM shops and an increase scramble by ethnic shops to disprove this "assimilation' process they themselves began touting in the 1990's. Simply put, both parts of the argument need to realize there is no such thing as acculturation or assimilation with regard to the Hispanic population anymore. There is no need for it, since the telecommunications, the proliferation of Hispanic media, proximity to home countries, and the sheer size of the Hispanic population makes it easy for a foreign born Latino and his second and third generation children to stay rooted in their home culture.

What clients should pay attention to, instead, are lifecycles and lifestyles, which will begin to dominate the purchasing patterns of Latinos. The future of the Latino family will be very similar to the baby boomer explosion in which a generation of children grew up with completely different mentalities than their parents and were responsible for one of the most dynamic consumer periods in America. It was with this boomer generation that life stage marketing began and it is the direction that we believe Latino families will also follow.

We believe that ultimately clients should consider two things when trying to assess how to speak to their ethnic consumers:

  1. Look at ethnic marketing as an overlay. In other words, don't create your strategies based on ethnicity alone. Clients can deliver a better message when it is based on consumer insights and an understanding of the lifestyle or life stage of your consumer than just ethnic backgrounds.

  2. The ideal set up would be a diverse group of general market and ethnic experts working as one team to develop a total market plan that does not sacrifice the brand core but simultaneously delivers a consistent message to all consumers.

Third: Class Distinction

It goes without saying that the lowest hanging fruit is the most desirable, and as household incomes rise among Hispanics, the upper-middle class Latino will be seem as a more desirable target than the $25K-$40K Latino group that dominated advertising in the 1990s. While lower to middle income families will still be the largest consumer base for most products, those households with $55K plus offer more disposable income for clients.

What is even better is that they also display some of the more "Hispanic" shopping traits that make the population so desirable, like shopping in groups, higher spending on cosmetics and clothes, and a certain degree of brand loyalty.

Watch for Hispanic advertising in high profile media channels, as well as the proliferation of such channels aimed at Latinos, much like Miami's Ocean Drive magazine and The Economist's Poder magazine.

Fourth: Increased Research Spending

As general market agencies and clients want to talk to Hispanic consumers, they are also coming to find what most of the ethnic advertisers before them have known: there is very little or deep marketing research about Latinos. Research budgets should increase during planning stages on Hispanic accounts as both clients and their mainstream agency try to understand the market on the same level as they understand the mainstream consumer. There will be a particular increase in psychographic research, as clients begin to attempt to cut through acculturation and assimilation myths to best understand the consumer's mindset.

In conclusion, 2004 will have battle lines drawn between various agencies trying to capture both a niche market and a fast growing part of the everyday market, clients will also increase both their hunger for Hispanic insights and community outreach, and finally, lifestyle will begin to set the trend of what's to come for Latinos in advertising.

Have a great year and if you need advice devising the right strategy for your business, please contact Luis Garcia at luis@garcia360.com .


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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