Why Do So Many Latino Marketing Initiatives Fail?

It's no longer news that the Latino market is one of the fastest-growing consumer segments in the U.S. and has been for years. Many companies are aware of and actively engage with this audience. Some brands focus on reaching U.S.-born Hispanic Millennial while others focus on reaching foreign-born first-generation Hispanics. 

Of course, some companies attempt to cover the entire spectrum of Hispanic-Americans. Those targeting the broader Hispanic population are more likely to create culturally-sensitive marketing campaigns and initiatives in both English and Spanish and may also offer bilingual and Spanglish programming, depending on relevancy to the target audience. Such companies tend to use various strategies to reach Latinos, including organic, social and paid channels.

Common Mistakes in Latino Marketing

One common mistake is when businesses choose a marketing agency without multicultural and/or cross-cultural capabilities to work on a specifically Hispanic marketing initiative. This is akin to choosing a table saw to loosen a screw. 



We agree that there’s enough complexity, to begin with, in choosing the right marketing model and approach to reach the Hispanic market, as discussed by Jose Villa in “Two Models for Two Hispanic Markets.” Furthermore, Hispanics are not a monolithic group and designing a strategy to include the right Latino audience requires know-how and market intelligence. For that reason, when clients opt to work with a general marketing agency focused on mainstream marketing to plan and execute a Latino initiative, it causes concern in the ranks of many specialized agencies who feel undermining Latinos in advertising is ineffective at best, insulting at worst. While there are no guarantees in marketing, a few things are certain when it comes to Latino-focused SEO, PPC, social media and mobile marketing campaigns:

1. Companies that want to build serious connections with the Hispanic market are best served when hiring an agency that specializes in this market or in multicultural markets as a whole. Such agencies have the expertise and specialized skill set needed to benefit the client, so everyone wins. 

2. Companies that decide to work with agencies that don't have the expertise needed to understand Latino consumers tend to sabotage their own potential in reaching the Hispanic market and suffer from problems with their bottom lines as a result. Many of these agencies may be doing very well working with the general or mainstream market, but they often fall short when it comes to ethnic-centric initiatives. Translating keywords and content from English into Spanish is simply not sufficed. Businesses that take this path tend to take the nuances of the Hispanic culture for granted and fail because of it. So remember, when someone tells you the Hispanic market simply isn't profitable, remember they are most likely basing that judgment upon their own experiences of missing the mark. 

Allocating Your Marketing Dollars: The Right Amount and With the Right Agencies

According to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), the top 500 advertisers in the U.S. utilize between 5 and 6% of their budgets when targeting Latinos. These expenditures are a full 10% lower than the actual demographic presence of Latino consumers in the U.S. market.

Today, many companies plan insufficiently and don't do a good job executing campaigns for the Hispanic market. They then document their failures online, and other businesses become extremely skeptical about increasing budgets for Latino marketing. Unfortunately, many companies feel it is too risky to increase their budgets for Latino-centric marketing even though Hispanic-Americans make up approximately 16.7% of the U.S. population.

Because Latinos do make up such a significant 50+ million market segment, it simply makes sense for entrepreneurs and executives to allocate a few more dollars of their marketing budgets to target Hispanic-Americans. Of course, it's absolutely crucial to allocate funds to specialized agencies who can provide the right supporting team to choose the best Hispanic marketing strategy, model and approach and drive profits and ROI. 

4 comments about "Why Do So Many Latino Marketing Initiatives Fail?".
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  1. Gene Bryan from Hispanic Media Sales, Inc., October 14, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.

    I enjoy seeing executives that are self imposed experts on Hispanic marketing writing in the pages of mediapost. It seems most only write at the Hispanic marketing 101 level. We are way beyond that in 2014.

  2. Sebastian Aroca from Hispanic Market Advisors, October 14, 2014 at 12:33 p.m.

    Gene, thank you for your comment, I am glad you enjoyed the reading. What you call "Hispanic marketing 101 level" others call it "the fundamentals of Hispanic marketing". While it's always great to ready and write about new strategies, tactics, and case studies, I think is just as healthy and appropriate every now and then to unwind and revisit the fundamentals for when these are overlooked or forgotten (in the name of sophistication) is when brands fall into common pitfalls. I look forward to reading your posts.

  3. Fraser E from Opinions expressed herein are solely my own, October 14, 2014 at 1:18 p.m.

    This post is, quite frankly, offensive in its generalizations about the capabilities of "general market" agencies, and its assumptions that the multicultural efforts of those agencies are doomed to fail on mere principle.

  4. Sebastian Aroca from Hispanic Market Advisors, October 14, 2014 at 2:27 p.m.

    Fraser, thank you for your comment. You're right that not all marketing agencies are created equal. I was referring to agencies without multicultural and/or cross-cultural capabilities. Translating a landing page and PPC copy ads to Spanish does not make a Latino initiative. In fact, it requires in-depth analysis and market knowledge to master the Latino customer profile, define the channels and tactics to reach and engage cost-effectively with this audience, and execute the strategy with the right people/team in place.

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