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The Growing Influence Of The American Latino

The undeniable and growing influence of Latinos in U.S. media and culture has accelerated the interest of businesses and marketers who are looking to break through to this powerful market segment. The trillion-dollar question, however, is how to engage those Latinos whose demographics are segmented or currently under the radar.

It’s understandable why this burgeoning demographic can be so appealing to marketers and others. While technology fundamentally used to drives sales, Latinos lead the way in content consumption. A report published by Nielsen earlier this year found that Hispanics are more likely to watch video online and on their mobile phones and also outpace all other ethnic groups in regards to mobile downloads of music and photos and in participation on the most popular social media sites.  

So why the disconnect? Why is it that the largest minority demographic in the United States, boasting the highest online engagement and consumption, is so difficult to reach? While there’s no one simple answer, there are some answers.

I’ll highlight a few of the key factors that influence accessibility and engagement that  will, ultimately, translate into sales.

Cultural identity for U.S.-born Latinos is much different than for immigrant Latinos and first-generation Latinos, many of whom have a strong sense of identity with their own or their parent’s home country. Take the recent brouhaha inadvertently stirred up by Olympian Leo Manzano after he proudly touted his dual nationalism by holding up both an American and a Mexican flag after winning second place in the 1,500-meters final at the Olympics. Critics questioned whether he was “representing America or Mexico?”; “Were his actions anti-American?” While the debate may rage on, those of us well versed in the study of this demographic know that dual nationalism will only continue to grow and that addressing it effectively is, in fact, the key for capturing a share of this market.

While diversity among Hispanics is not news, just how diverse they can be is what’s important. There are certainly enough differences to warrant tailored marketing initiatives for each group. Heineken, for example, famously targets the Hispanic market with campaigns that borrow references from different Latino countries and blends them with U.S. culture bits to create an inclusive and relatable tone.

Further, Latino self-identity has morphed at a record pace in the last 10 years. The emergence of prominent Latino celebrities in music, television and film has fueled the shaping of this new identity. Marketers not only have to contend with Latinos identifying with their own or their parents’ home country but with an American sense of self as well. Fox’s recent foray into the Hispanic television market clearly plays to this shift with its tagline, “Americano Como Tú,” or “American Like You.”

And while music, television and film might dictate for Americans how to “be American,” the idea of how an American Latino is portrayed is being revised on screen as well. The recent upset about TV’s Sofia Vergara’s character as a thoughtful but mostly brainless sexpot has Latinos reevaluating how they wish to be viewed and perceived. As such, the Latino drug dealer-maid-janitor roles, while not completely extinct, are definitely getting a rewrite.

What this means for businesses and marketers trying to engage the Latino market is that by reevaluating your approach, you can execute relatable and diverse campaigns that drive engagement. After all, Latinos want to be engaged, but successful approaches will be a result of marketers delving deep into the nuances of the cultural heritages that Latinos hold dear while also recognizing the fact that the American Latino is an American.

1 comment about "The Growing Influence Of The American Latino ".
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  1. Zeph Snapp from Not Just SEO, August 16, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.

    Ali,
    You have said a mouthful with this article. Companies interested in reaching US Hispanics often come to me and think that a simple website translation will equal sales dollars. In many cases a translation (especially one that is poor) does more harm than good.
    Companies need to learn to dig deeper and create something excellent.

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