The Issue Of Defining A 'Target'

It seems like an increasingly segmented classification of Hispanics is more than ever the holy grail of marketing efforts. At least that’s what the many statistics compiled by a rapidly growing number of specialized firms in acquiring data seem to point to. And how could that not be the case when the numbers continue to attest the incredible force behind such a large group of people? 

To understand what I mean, let’s consider some statistics from the social media analysis following this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, which aired on Thursday, Nov. 21 (according to data cited by

The night of the Latin Grammys, there were more than 109,000 tweets that included the #LatinGrammy hashtag on Twitter.



In comparison, “The X Factor” (U.S.) hashtag, #xfRESULTS, received merely 6,034 mentions on Twitter that same night. “Thursday Night Football” was mentioned approximately 3,240 times on Twitter, but the NBA games dwarfed that number with the 14,942 tweets they garnered. Sure, it’s five times that of “Thursday Night Football,” but still only about one-seventh of the “#LatinGrammy” presence.... The #Glee hashtag’s 54,425 Twitter mentions were the most impressive performance of these “American” shows, but it still came up about 51% short of matching the Latin Grammy conversation.

But just because these other conversations weren’t about the Latin Grammy Awards, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to do with the Hispanic community; 75% of all of the previously mentioned conversations were conducted in Spanish! Logic would dictate that the more specialized knowledge a brand can have about their intended audience of consumers, the more specific and, thus, effective communication these brands could and would implement, right?

Contrary to this logic, in an attempt to find more effective ways to decipher and unravel the mystery of how to tap into the enormous resource that Hispanics represent, some companies are turning to Facebook’s recently launched a Hispanic affinity cluster feature. With its 23 million Hispanic users in the U.S. alone, Facebook describes this tool as “a new way to identify U.S. Hispanic Facebook users and group them into the new cluster that marketers can use to target Hispanics [...] you can use it to further segment Hispanics by age, geography, precise interest, language, relationship status and education.”

It seems to me that all these numbers and attempts at understanding and classifying and quantifying begin to sound more like a struggle to find another way to fit a square peg into a round hole than a genuine interest in understanding who I really am as a Hispanic consumer, so that my needs can be better served.

I don’t know how recent my personal conflict about all this is (I only just became consciously aware of it, but it might have been brewing). But, more and more, when I put on my “Hispanic consumer” skin, I feel icky knowing that there is an entire industry to which I’m not considered a person with individual tastes and interests, and a set of values and perceptions about life that are as much a product of my family experience as they are a product of the culture I grew up in. Instead, I feel like to them I’m a set of statistics and formulas, which they can use in an attempt to figure out how to sell me their products most efficiently, rather than effectively.

Perhaps it is not just about the Hispanic market. Perhaps it is something that’s rooted in the way the advertising industry as a whole has evolved. Maybe it should be less about targeting and more about sharing and understanding. I just wish more of the “insight” into my culture and my segment of the population (dare I say, “Hispanicity?”) that is available to brands had more to do with the essence of who I am. So the brands could, in turn, build a more meaningful connection with me.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is that there is nothing wrong with information “insights” into our community. But I think that, through this insight, brands have an opportunity to really connect with and touch and affect the lives of a very significant group of people, who contribute to the greatness of not just this country, but of the world. And it is up to those of us who provide these insights to steer the conversation in that direction.

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