Market Focus: Walking Spanish to the Mall
Marketers are getting better at being bilingual
Spanglish isn’t just a romantic comedy about a woman and her daughter who emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America. The movie starring Adam Sandler was released in 2004, but it seems marketers have just discovered that mixing messages both in English and Spanish can build bonds with Latinos, which the Pew Hispanic Center pegs at 14 percent of the U.S. adult population.
Second generation U.S. Lateens respect their elders, but also have minds of their own. They love their grandmother’s tacos as much as they love going out for sushi. They represent a mashup of cultures, refusing to be pigeonholed into one or the other.
The dichotomy has created confusion for marketers — the most misunderstood concept being language and culture are interchangeable and that you can reach U.S. Hispanics if you speak to them in Spanish.
Today’s kids aren’t being communicated with, says Tommy Thompson, president of iNSPIRE!, a Dallas-based Hispanic agency supporting brands such as McDonald’s. “Kids ages 14 to 24 believe they are an important part of the U.S. Hispanic revolution, but few brands know how to reach them, especially online,” he says.
Thompson says “Flying Fry,” his agency’s latest campaign for McDonald’s which launched Jan. 1, speaks to bicultural, bilingual young Latinos. The ads run on English-language TV, radio and online across 16 major and emerging Hispanic markets, airing on cable channels Comedy Central, Fox, MTV and VH1, with multiple audio spots for radio and media banner ads. The yearlong effort will see the launch of a microsite in February, with features meant to continually bring kids back.
The TV spot, viewable on YouTube, features two male Hispanic teens who challenge each other to a series of French fry eating scenarios. It’s shot as if a friend had a digital camera and filmed the experience. The spot opens with two young men sitting on a wall at a skateboard park. One tosses a fry, while the other attempts to catch it with his mouth. The scenery moves to a subway-like platform with one escalator going up, and another one down. The two toss fries back and forth over an eight-foot wide staircase between them. The kids speak in English, with one Spanish word slipped in, but text at the end of the video under the McDonald’s logo reads “me encanta.”
By 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that Hispanics will comprise 16.6 percent of the total U.S. population. By 2012, the overall buying power of U.S. Hispanics should reach nearly $1.2 trillion, up from $860 billion in 2007, according to data from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.
U.S. Hispanics will represent approximately 13 percent, or $21.6 billion, of total online retail spending by 2011, up from 11 percent, or $12.8 billion, in 2007 for retail categories, estimates JupiterResearch.
About 100 advertisers are finding it easy to target marketing toward bicultural, bilingual U.S. Hispanics on batanga.com, an online portal that lets people create streaming radio stations, combining music in English and Spanish. About 80,000 have been created, of which 80 percent include both. There are 5.5 million unique monthly users worldwide, and about 3.5 million of them are in the United States.
Sending a signal that the Hispanic youth accepts Spanglish, posts on the social network at Batanga are sometimes in English, and other times in Spanish. Rick Marroquin, Batanga’s CMO, says, “Young U.S. Hispanic adults are defining a culture all their own. It’s not exclusively Hispanic, nor exclusively Anglo. It’s more than language. It’s culture.”
No one knows better than Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst. “Education, language and acculturation are the three factors driving Internet use in the Hispanic population,” she says. By 2011, about 24.4 million U.S. Hispanics over the age of three will go online, up from 18.8 million in 2007, estimates eMarketer.
Visa USA created a site that doesn’t sell anything, but provides the company an opportunity to interact with consumers. vidaydinero.com translates to “practical money skills for life.” And the site provides just that — information on budgeting and financial services.
Endorsed by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, vidaydinero.com launched in July to educate kids, along with parents, about the U.S. banking system and how to manage money. Executive group director Randy Stockdale, whose Houston-based advertising agency Lopez Negrete Communications designed Visa’s site, says it’s one piece of a bigger marketing strategy meant to reach the Hispanic community online.
Aside from Visa USA, Lopez Negrete’s clients include Bank of America, Domino’s Pizza, Microsoft, Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart Stores, among others. In fact, the ad agency spent more than a year designing a groundbreaking interactive Web site entirely in Spanish for the world’s largest retail chain; ahorramasvivemejor.com, translated to English, “save more, live better,” suggests fun and better quality products.
Word-of-mouth or product reviews written by consumers are some of the best ways to market brands to Lateens. U.S. Hispanics are more likely than others to rate items, post reviews and feedback, and blog about products in an effort to help other consumers make good purchasing decisions.
Overall, U.S. Hispanics are somewhat more engaged in providing feedback, with 34 percent who go online having created and contributed content about products during the past year, compared with 28 percent of non-Hispanic users, says JupiterResearch. The firm estimates that U.S. Hispanics ages 18 to 34 are twice as likely as are non-Hispanic consumers of the same age group to leverage social networking sites or social shopping sites, such as Kaboodle or Stylehive, for researching and purchasing products. Among this age group, 45 percent of Hispanic consumers also have created and contributed content about products online, versus 36 percent of non-Hispanic users.
In November, Procter & Gamble introduced the Spanish version of the Pantene hair care Web site to keep young Latinas up-to-date on the latest hair-styling trends, and to provide detailed information about the different Pantene lines.
Key features at pantene.com/espanol are downloadable videos from well-known Hispanic hairstylists Douglas and Albert; monthly e-blast articles discussing hairstyling tips for special occasions; everyday looks; and basic hair care tips using the different Pantene lines for different hair types. Consumers also can submit comments and questions to featured hairstylists and participate in online promotions such as the opportunity to win personal makeovers.
“The challenge for marketers is the Hispanic population isn’t unified, and traditional marketing campaigns can’t be successful,” eMarketer’s Williamson says. “What may be relevant to a well-educated bilingual Hispanic man who spends a lot of time on the Internet won’t be relevant to a first-generation Spanish-speaking mother. For a long time, language defined marketing. Now, marketers need to consider age, income, acculturation, and how attuned are they to traditions in culture. It’s a big challenge.”