In 2014, Google labeled the U.S. Hispanic market as marketers’ “Next Big Opportunity.”
Fast-forward seven years, and not much has changed. Brands are still struggling to figure out a winning strategy for reaching Hispanic audiences, despite the fact that a report by Claritas found that total annual spending by Hispanics in 2020 was, at $978 billion, higher than that of any other minority group.
There are over 60 million Hispanics currently living in the United States, according to Pew Research Center, making up 18% of the total population. Yet it would be a mistake to treat them as a homogenous group. Just as no experienced marketer would consider the entire non-Hispanic white population a single audience to advertise to, so too should the nuances of Hispanics be recognized.
Sadly, I’ve seen too many brands take the easy route and partner with companies like Telemundo and Univision. While they certainly play an important role in the Hispanic media ecosystem, far too many marketers see these partnerships as the extent of their Hispanic outreach, instead of as a springboard toward a better understanding of their target audience. Moreover, brands that take this approach are also missing an opportunity to partner with minority-led and operated businesses that have real connections and insight into the nuances of the Hispanic population.
Amid the Black Lives Matter Movement and growing calls for more diversity and inclusion, advertisers have finally seen multicultural advertising for what it is: a necessity that allows them to reach diverse audiences in ways that go beyond the superficial.
But in order to do multicultural advertising right, brands have to think about the entire process -- starting with the companies that will be producing those ads, through to the media channels that they choose to run those campaigns on. Unfortunately, many brands who say they’re supporting Latinos and other minority communities end up spending money with companies who look the same as they do -- that is to say, companies that lack the types of diverse voices needed to successfully appeal to multicultural audiences.
It’s time for brands to put their money where their mouth is, and support communities of color in truly meaningful ways. A good first step would be to look for officially accredited Hispanic-led and owned agencies to assist with campaign planning and strategy. Not only must these companies go through an extensive auditing process before they can be certified, they also provide a level of audience insight that others are unable to provide. For instance, they can advise brands on which cultural cues appeal most to Hispanic audiences, and how those cues differ depending on geographic location, age, and the level of acculturation.Only 6% of U.S. ad spend is directed towards Hispanics -- a shocking statistic considering the demographic’s purchasing power. While many have taken (much-needed) steps to changing this statistic, the reality is that it’s past time for Hispanics to be taken seriously as an economic and cultural force. An ad on Telemundo just isn’t enough anymore.