It's Time To Question Everything We Think We Know

Whenever someone first gets involved in Hispanic marketing, they inevitably come across a series of universally accepted “truths” about Hispanic consumers and how to market to them. While some of these truths have faded as the market has evolved over the last 50 years, some continue unchallenged. But as anyone who is deeply involved in marketing to Hispanics today will tell you, the market has evolved as quickly as it has grown. Today’s modern Hispanic marketer understands everything we think we know about Hispanics has to be questioned – especially long-standing “truths” that are likely oversimplifications rooted in a simpler, more homogeneous world that no longer exists.

So what are these truths? There are too many to go over in this short post, but here are three big ones still in wide circulation that need to be questioned.

Hispanics are collectivist

Hispanic populations in the U.S. – largely shaped by immigration experiences depending upon familial interdependence – are historically collectivist in nature. This notion is supported by the fact that Hispanics tend to have larger families, a broader notion of family including extended family and friends, and tend to live in densely Hispanic communities.



However, the rapid rate of cultural assimilation by Hispanics in the U.S. and their overwhelming embrace of self-driven digital platforms – mobile, social media, tablets, etc. – calls into question this collectivist notion. Moreover, Hispanics are increasingly moving to non-Hispanic areas of the U.S. –Southeast, Midwest, etc. A recent Pew Research study shows Latina pregnancies are falling and Hispanic families are getting smaller. 

Hispanics are more brand loyal than non-Hispanics

Hispanics are supposedly significantly more brand loyal than other ethnic groups and less likely to switch or experiment with new brands. This truth has been used to justify both the value of building brand affinity among Hispanics and deciding against pursuing the Hispanic market as a lost cause.

There is certainly a large volume of research supporting the view of a highly brand loyal Hispanic when looking at recent immigrants and unacculturated Hispanics. However, the data paints a very different picture when looking at the broader Hispanic population. Experian Simmons Summer 2012 NHCS shopping behavior and psychographics data on brand loyalty shows only 30% of Hispanics are far above or above average “Brand Loyals,” compared to 35% of non-Hispanics. Moreover, a number of studies show Hispanic brand loyalty tends to fade as they acculturate.

The Hispanic Mom

The almost mythical Hispanic mom, or female head-of-household is probably one of the most oversimplified and over-generalized figures in the Hispanic market. Most descriptions of the Hispanic mom involve younger married women who are stay-at-home moms with 3+ children making most of the household purchasing decisions and devoutly watching Spanish telenovelas. 

The reality is much more complex. A recent Axis “Segmenting Hispanic Moms” report finds Hispanic moms are slightly older, more acculturated, and mostly working moms. The report identified five distinct Hispanic mom segments, none of which fits the stereotype. We know Latinas are having fewer children (see above) and recent studies, including Integer’s “The New Hispanic Shopper,” are calling into question the purchase “gatekeeper” mythology of the Hispanic female head of household. According to the Integer report, Hispanic males are adapting to new roles, moving away from many machista stereotypes to become more active household contributors, including becoming empowered to make their own decisions when shopping.

A common thread across these increasingly irrelevant truths is that they are based on a less acculturated Hispanic immigrant. As I am constantly preaching, the unacculturated, Spanish-preferring Hispanic immigrant is now a minority among the 52 million Hispanics in the U.S. A savvy marketer is well-served beginning any Hispanic effort by questioning these and the many other commonly held notions about the Hispanic market.

7 comments about "It's Time To Question Everything We Think We Know".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Alex Lekas from PTI Security, March 7, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.

    since stereotypes are falling by the wayside, this article begs the question of why treat Hispanics as a separate entity in the first place. Since we're questioning everything.

  2. Jose Villa from Sensis, March 7, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.

    Great point Alex... I think / struggle with that question a lot. The reality is that the decision-makers, and therefore the "market" still looks at Hispanics as a separate group from the "general market." This is why I'm a proponent of looking at the general market differently... taking a cross-cultural approach...

  3. Diane Raulston from Sensis Agency - Southeast, March 7, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.

    I did not interpret this article as a case for not having Hispanic specific advertising.
    I read it as a case for broadening the ideologies and methods used to engage the various Hispanic populations. Just as in the general populations where we have specified targets (Gen Y, Moms, Causes, Boomers, etc.) the Hispanic market has specified targets (Affluent, Immigrants and 1st generation, Urban, etc.) Certainly geography, both country of decedent origin and current community plays a big part in cultural norms, rate of assimilation, and level of assimilation.
    I am a Mexican America female born in Texas, as were my parents, and their parents, and their parents. I have a graduate school level education, and when my child se hace coco, I’m going to pull out the sangre de chango to treat it – as long as it doesn’t interfere with my novelas!

  4. Jorge Berrios from The Upper Room Ministries, March 8, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

    Interesting. We need to understand and evaluate the changes and trends with an open and flexible mind, taking into consideration the evolving realities.

    Jorge Berríos

  5. Farnaz Wallace from Farnaz Global, LLC, March 11, 2013 at 4:22 p.m.

    Jose, this is a great article, and I'm all about "negating stereotypes" when it comes to The New World Marketplace strategies (and have dedicated a category for this on my own website.) But I'm wondering if your premise of "acculturation" is the right way of looking at this. I think there is a higher degree of correlation between lifestyle choices (loyalty, family size, digital platform, etc) and income/education. I think it's all about values, beliefs and causes, which transcend race and ethnicity. I'm sure you agree with this, and perhaps the degree of acculturation you are referring to correlates with income & education as well. Just food for thoughts in how we position and discern cultural shifts. Again, nice article.

  6. James Bilello from US Marketing, Inc., May 13, 2013 at 4:55 p.m.

    Far be it for me to totally disagree with you Jose, but I believe your short article is also an oversimplification. Also far be it for me to agree with George San Jose. However, his recent article in Hispanic Market Weekly may be more instructive. See below.

    Brand-centric Hispanics Impact CPG Shopping Trends
    A column by George San José, president of The San Jose Group

    February 24, 2013
    Allocating advertising budget money is a complicated task, but one thing is simple: spending a portion of that money on the Hispanic market is a must for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to increase sales and solidify their brand as a staple in their shopping carts.

    In 2010, Latinos spent over $125 billion on CPG products: 11.8 percent of total U.S. CPG annual spending. Though Hispanics have historically been overlooked in CPG branding, $125 billion is a reason to take a second look!

    Latino consumers are proportionally the largest segment of CPG consumers. They spend eight percent more on CPG products than any other population and this group shows no signs of slowing down. Hispanics spend over 50 percent more on CPG products over their lifetimes than non-Latino whites and over-index in a number of categories.

    If marketers have been convinced the Hispanic market is not worth a segment of their budget, they should reevaluate that decision or risk falling behind their competitors. Recent market studies reveal Latino consumers have a large impact on the CPG market and company revenue.

    Assigning funds to target the Hispanic market will drive a 35 percent revenue increase in just five years for CPG companies. The market's history highlights a correlation between Latino budget share and organic revenue growth rates: a decline in Hispanic spending by CPG companies also means a decline in revenue growth.

    Hispanic food at home purchases are estimated to increase annually at a rate of 5.7 percent. Non-Latinos are only expected to increase those same purchases by 2.5 percent annually. CPG brands, take note: not only do Hispanics consistently spend more money on these products, but they are also significantly more brand-centric than other demographics.

    Therefore, the Hispanic market is one of the most effective market segments to target. Latinos are markedly partial to strong branding, often choosing brands because they are "hot" or because they believe they are solid indicators of quality (in comparison to generic brands). In these cases, Hispanics are willing to pay more for their preferred brands. If marketers establish their clients as one of these preferred brands, it could also ensure the brand's longevity, as the Latino segment will only continue to grow

    Latinos also over-index certain product categories in comparison to the non-Hispanic market. Walmart reported that their top Hispanic categories ...

    for the full article see

  7. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, May 14, 2013 at 11:04 p.m.

    I's appropriate that you raise these questions. In particular, I've run into the challenge of how to look at the market relative to media. It's a prejudice to believe that all, or most, of Hispanics want to be reached with Spanish language media. You suggest that it's now a minority who prefer Spanish language. So let me ask the last part of the question: What % of Hispanics can be reached only through Hispanic programming or through Spanish language programming? And, what portion might be offended by a marketer assumption that they want to be anything other than mainstream American? There's a tremendous variety of issues for which we need to take care but lack the insights today.

Next story loading loading..