It's Time to Get Personal

What makes us Hispanics special? Well, many things. But one thing we have in common is we like getting personal. I was reminded of this the other day when attending a business conference. Sitting next to my non-Hispanic colleague, we were discussing the different groups in the audience of multi-agency teams. After the session finished, one group walked up to another in this large crowd and loudly gave each other “un abrazo.” Not a simple handshake or quiet hug, but a loud, slapping embrace. I immediately knew they were from Hispanic agencies. As we approached, we could hear them communicating in Spanish; indeed, they were Hispanic.

It got me thinking, why do we Hispanics conduct business with such a strong personal connection, yet we largely talk to our Latino communities through more impersonal media channels? Shouldn’t the goal be to reach Hispanic consumers where we all live, work, play and shop? If so, then here are some ways that we can go about doing that:

  • Integrate face-to-face touch points into the media mix. Our society has become more impersonal. “Conversations” are now synonymous with texts, instant messages, posts and tweets, even amongst Hispanics (26.8% of Hispanic Internet users spend six or more hours on social media sites per day versus 8.5% of white non-Hispanics, according to eMarketer). While Hispanics are can be considered even more technologically savvy than their non-Hispanic counterparts (Hispanics are 28% more likely to own a smartphone than non-Hispanics, per a recent Nielsen report), you can’t rely solely on communications via social channels. At the core, people want to see their friends or converse with them face-to-face, especially us Latinos. We’re touchy-feely people. We crave that personal relationship. If that’s the case, how can a brand be relevant if they can’t personally relate? A client of ours was able to bridge the live-social chasm with its take on the “battle of the bands.” Live events were hosted across the country and featured rising Latino musical talent. An interactive voting component enabled fans to promote their favorite bands and share their choice with their social networks.
  • Look beyond mass media. With limited budgets, we are challenged to spread our messaging more broadly and with greater value. The default is often a broad Spanish-language advertising campaign. However, Hispanics are such a diverse group from city to city, we need to be able to adapt to the cultural nuances and regional dialects to maintain relevancy. This approach can most effectively be achieved by adding a more personal one-to-one dialogue where a “brand advocate” can organically bring the message to life. Although other mediums speaking with our consumers reach them on a broader scale, brand activation is the best way to be nimble and present. Take, for example, a national influencer program that was tailored to the local Latino community. So, the event in Miami was more of a Caribbean feel, while the program in Texas featured a more Mexican flair. Same campaign but a much more unique and relevant experience.
  • Build trust. It’s not only important to nurture personal connections with Hispanic consumers, it’s vital to build that conviction. We believe in word-of-mouth and trust. It’s something we learned from an early age and carry with us as Hispanic adults. Nothing is closer to this mentality than bringing a brand to life in a personal way. It generates activism between a brand and its consumer. It breaks down the barriers that have been built with the increasingly large number of touchpoints. It’s been proven: Hispanic consumers are more likely to try new brands than their non-Hispanic counterparts as indicated by an Experian Simmons study that found 26% of Hispanic adults "like to change brands often for the sake of variety and novelty" compared to just 16% of non-Hispanic adults who say they like to change brands.

In one way or another, as Latinos, we are our own consumers. We want to be reached out to authentically and respectfully—with understanding—and not just in Español. Although we use technology like never before, we still crave—first and foremost—the personal relationship. Despite more limited budgets than our general population counterparts, it’s our duty to have our Hispanic consumers know our brands and make them feel empowered, inspired and stimulated—ultimately resulting in them purchasing our products and services.

Tags: hispanics
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1 comment about "It's Time to Get Personal".
  1. Jorge Berrios from The Upper Room Ministries , February 25, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.
    Great article! Reminds me a quote from the Hispanic Market Handbook: " To communicate successfully with consumers from another culture, it is necessary to do more than just speak the language - one must speak the culture" (Vald├ęs, Isabel M. & Seoane, Marta H."Hispanic Market Handbook".Gale Research Inc., 1995. P. 162.