President Obama’s recent immigration reform initiative received significant media attention and overwhelming approval from Hispanics, whose political and purchasing power continues to increase. Hispanics, of course, are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S., so it is only logical that brands and agencies are continually working to find the most effective ways to market to them. Many companies have increased their Hispanic marketing budgets, particularly in the mobile and social arena — there are 22 million Hispanic daily active users on Facebook, and 14% of the Hispanic population is active on Twitter — but most don’t invest the money, time and energy required to fully understand the nuances that exist within the U.S. Hispanic community. As a result, they often fail to connect with their target audience.
Here are some topics to consider so you can get your next Hispanic marketing campaign right:
Home culture: Hispanics live in an extended family culture, often under the same roof, sharing many life experiences together. In the digital realm, that means that a Latina teenager may be tasked with searching for information online for their less tech-savvy parents and relatives. But how she does that search is the key. She’ll likely use the family home computer while searching for Spanish-language content for her abuela, but is sure to use her phone for social media or English-language news that she cares about. Consider how, when, and by whom your content will be received.
Culture also affects how things can be communicated to Latinos. For example, Latinos tend to speak less openly about illness. Over 75% prefer that their doctor discuss healthcare options with a family member, and not directly with them, according to a Simmons OneView survey. Finding a nuanced approach to communicating health-related matters with Hispanics requires sensitivity and creativity.
When it comes to choosing the right time of year or motive for a Hispanic campaign, as always, consider your audience. Halloween and Thanksgiving are likely not going to be important to a foreign-born or even second-generation Hispanic, but Christmas will be. While some non-Latinos may view Christmas as a commercial celebration, most Latinos see it as both commercial and religious. Act accordingly.
Language: 82% of U.S. Hispanics speak Spanish at home. If your brand attempts to communicate to Hispanics in Spanish, the message you are sending is that you want to reach them on a personal, not a business, level. Among Latino internet users, 72% are either English-dominant (31%) or bilingual (41%), and 28% are Spanish-dominant, according to a Pew Research Center study. So brands and advertisers who think that just having Spanish-language copy is sufficient to reach Latinos are destined to fail.
Remember that different Spanish-speaking countries have different words for the same object. A car is called an auto in Argentina, a coche in Mexico, and a carro in Colombia. Moreover, there are varying regional dialects in Spanish, which also must be considered when creating a Spanish-language campaign. Simply translating copy from English to Spanish (or vice versa), as opposed to writing original copy, is lazy, as is not taking the time to make sure your translations are 100% correct. Errors in copywriting tell potential customers that you don’t care about them.
Regions:Just because many U.S. Hispanics share a common bond in the Spanish language does not mean they relate to one another in any significant way. In different U.S. cities and states, different cultural and immigration mixes are present. Miami is a blend of Spanish-speaking Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans, while Los Angeles has a predominantly Mexican culture. In New York, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans make up a large percentage of the Hispanic population. If you’re planning a local, regional or national campaign, getting to know these groups and their customs in each city is paramount. Speaking to Hispanics as if they are all exactly the same can at best be ineffectual, and at worst, insulting.
If you are working on a media buying campaign, direct consumer communication, or SEO, taking an adapted and culturally relevant approach that strives to speak to Hispanics in a manner they will both understand and embrace is not only encouraged, but essential, and is sure to bring success.