Why Brands Still Don't Have A True Hispanic Marketing Strategy

You have likely read the numerous articles and studies that highlight Hispanic consumers in the United States. Particularly, analysts and media tout the incredible growth, young demographics, amplified spending power and hyperactive digital and mobile consumption of the Hispanic market – all of which make it one of the most attractive demographics for marketers. However, U.S. Hispanics are vastly underserved, and the opportunities to reach them through digital remain largely untapped.

According to a recent Google study that surveyed a select panel of senior-level marketers to see if the U.S. Hispanic audience was on their roadmap, most saw 11 to 25% of their company's growth coming from this demographic in the next three to five years. Still, many brands surveyed didn’t have a marketing strategy for engaging this audience.

I can’t be the only marketer that finds it baffling how the U.S. Hispanic market can be the most attractive and yet one of the most underserved at that same time. Working in Hispanic marketing for over a decade, I have heard over and over from marketers about the importance of this consumer group, but in 2016 very few are working towards a strategy to specifically and meaningfully reach us in a culturally relevant manner.
Here are two reasons why:

1. The “Total Market” Syndrome

With the development and rise of “Total Market” strategies over the past few years, corporations and marketers have found an excuse to generalize strategies to reach the diverse US market as a whole. Essentially, Total Market refers to a melting pot of marketing strategies that are intended to speak to universal truths while gaining efficiencies.

These efficiencies, however, inherently ignore an important fact: Hispanics are greatly influenced by strong and distinct cultural values that guide their thoughts, actions and, ultimately, motivations to buy. Implementing a total market strategy may save money, but often leads to a less engaging message that lacks in authenticity and leaves the Latino consumer asking “what’s in it for me?” The brands that understand this and are making an effort to foster genuine connections based on key cultural differences are winning Hispanic consumers’ loyalty and dollars compared to those who take a one-size-fits-all approach. 

2. No Hablo Español (or Language Matters)

As marketers spend more time investigating the Hispanic market, they have come to understand that the majority of this group’s population recent growth comes from U.S. births—meaning more and more of the population is proficient in English. The problem is that half of marketers believe that Hispanic marketing means marketing solely in Spanish. The other half assume that since the Hispanic audience is bilingual or English-dominant, they can be effectively reached through the same advertising and strategies developed for general market audiences.

Neither is the correct approach; marketers end up overlooking the important role that cultural ties and community connections play to this Hispanic consumer. Cultural nuances are often more important than language. While language can be a trigger, culturally- relevant content and messaging can engage the entire spectrum of the Latino audience. 

I often compare targeting Hispanics versus the general market to the differences in targeting men and women. Marketers would not likely use the same piece of content to reach and connect with a male as they would a female (just ask Dollar Shave Club). The voice, experience and reasons to buy can be completely different. The same goes for the Hispanic market.

4 comments about "Why Brands Still Don't Have A True Hispanic Marketing Strategy".
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  1. Linda Gonzalez from ViVA Partnership, February 24, 2016 at 1:46 p.m.

    On behalf of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing, we agree with Ms. Conrad's assessment that limiting Hispanic marketing to Spanish-language efforts or utilizing an incorrect implementation of Total Market as a cost-cutting approach completely misses the mark. That's why, AHAA, in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, defines Total Market as a strategy leading with messaging based on target audiences' universal truths COUPLED WITH segmented approaches that address cultural nuances. Without individual campaigns that extend overarching messages in culturally relevant ways, campaigns will fall flat. We share Ms. Conrad's hope that as more categories and brands see the positive impact on corporate revenue growth that Hispanic marketing can generate, more will come on board implementing a genuine Total Market approach.

    Linda L Gonzalez
    Chairman, AHAA
    President, Viva Partnership

  2. Erin Conrad from Collective Bias , February 25, 2016 at 4:14 p.m.

    Linda -
    Sincerely appreciate your comment and endorsement. I know this is a constant and consistent battle that we Hispanic Marketing professionals face. I can not count the number of times that clients (or potential clients) have spoken to the vast growth and financial opportunity that the Hispanic market represents only to later cut the budget or refuse to dedicate significant resources to support making a sincere connections based on cultural insights.
    By now you would think that marketers would be investing their resources in a manner that is equal to the market they are trying to reach and provides increased return. As the AHAA 2015 study on CPG Hispanic Media Allocation states "For every 5 points of shift from English to Hispanic media, companies would on average experience a 1.75% increase in annual revenue growth in the U.S." I encourage those in need of more proof to use the vast resources provided on

  3. Pedro de Cordoba from Eventus, February 26, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.

    Totally concur with the post. Too many times we encounter clients utilizing the total market approach as subterfuge to resist shifting the allocation of resources (namely budgets) to reflect the new demographic and market realities. It’s a Sisyphean task to preach proper resource reallocation, but one that needs to be won.

  4. Erin Conrad from Collective Bias replied, March 1, 2016 at 1:18 p.m.

    Thanks Pedro for your endorsement. For our sake of our sanity I have to believe that one day “Hispanic Marketers” will be able to stop repeating the same stats and facts and that brands will engage beyond checking the proverbial box.

    It is equally baffling to me that many marketers have recently jumped on the Millennial bandwagon while still ignoring that Hispanics make up an even larger percentage of this market and that their cultural influence has become even stronger within their peer group. In this context making sincere connections with Latino Millennials becomes even more important and will directly affect the company’s bottom line. But that is a topic for another post I suppose.

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