The Hispanic Market Is Poised for Innovation in 2018

“In the beginning there was Spanish, and that was good.” 

Marketing in Spanish in the U.S. may not seem like an innovation from our purview in 2017, but when the first recognized full service Hispanic advertising agency in the United States opened up in 1962 it was a paradigm-shifting marketing event. It was one of the first times national brands and companies marketed their goods and services in the U.S. using a language other than English. Again, upon retrospect this doesn’t seem like a significant innovation when we look at the immigration patterns and changing demographics at the time but for the courageous few that had the foresight and business savvy at the time to look at this shifting tide and create the business case, it was an innovation that birthed a multibillion dollar industry, Hispanic Advertising. 

Flash forward almost six decades and there haven’t been any major innovations in our industry yet there continues to be significant cultural and demographic shifts on the same magnitude (if not greater) than those that sparked the original innovation of Spanish language advertising. A decrease in Hispanic immigration, rapid growth of U.S. born Hispanics, and the rise of interracial marriages driven by Hispanics and Asians, all represent significant implications to our collective industry, yet we have not responded with a meaningful innovation that addresses these developments. 



Our industry is best poised to innovate in the face of the shifting cultural tide the U.S. finds itself in today. We can create significant innovations that signal to the industry that we are not just Hispanic marketers, but rather cultural marketers ready to meet the demands of the new cultural landscape the U.S. finds itself in. 

I see the potential for significant innovation in the following three areas: 

Cultural specificity — I introduced this concept at the recent IAB Cross-Cultural Marketing Day 2017. In short, it is the idea of embracing a uniquely specific cultural point of view that permeates through all of your content. In this unapologetic specificity we see that its appeal runs counter to what you would think. The more specific the content, the wider the appeal. We’ve seen streaming content have success with specific African-American stories ranging from "Atlanta" to "Insecure." We’ve also seen tremendous success in online content producers in the Hispanic space such as mitú and Remezcla, both targeted to the Hispanic market with unapologetic specificity and points of view yet with wide appeal as highlighted by their recent $27M and $11M rounds of funding, respectively. 
Cross-Cultural — With the rise of Asian immigration, decline in Hispanic immigration, and rise of U.S. Hispanic births and interracial marriages, the demographic landscape we find ourselves in is much different than when our industry started. Yet the tools that made us good Hispanic marketers are easily applicable to this new cross-cultural landscape. Understanding our consumer, understanding our consumer in relation to our client’s brand, and understanding that there is no one-size fits all approach in marketing are more relevant now than ever. Agencies such as Sensis have successfully made the transition from Hispanic agency to cross-cultural agency through tools that have always made them successful. Embarking on innovative research initiatives such as the Hispanic Millennial Project and We Are GenZ have positioned them as though leaders in this new cross-cultural landscape while providing useful insights for marketers to navigate the new cross-cultural reality. 
Data — This is the area that is most ripe for innovation in our industry. As cultural marketers, we are all sitting on rich cultural data that everyone in our industry and outside of our industry are in need of. Whether it is digital attribution data, first-party data, qual, or quant, our data is valuable and if packaged correctly, can disrupt the marketing models we have relied on. The AdTech and MarTech industries are booming yet there is no real cross-cultural representation from a data perspective embedded in these tools. We can change that and 2018 is our year. 

The above list is by no means exhaustive as the innovation potential in our space is limitless and more importantly, there is a market for our innovations that can help our current clients and help grow our client lists. What areas do you think are ready for innovation in our industry? 

1 comment about "The Hispanic Market Is Poised for Innovation in 2018".
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  1. Dr. Jake Beniflah from mitú, November 2, 2017 at 10:57 p.m.

    Mario, you are spot on. Thank you for your continued leadership and insightful research. Great read. To me, innovation centers on being customer-centric instead of media centric. Follow the customer. Once this mental shift is made, we will see a wave of innovation you outlined in your paper shape the way companies market their products to Americans in the 21st century. 

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