How To: Capture the U.S. Hispanic Market

Category: Culture, Language

“The concept of an ‘average American’ is gone, probably forever.”

– Peter Franchese, founder of American Demographics magazine

The 2010 census was the first time that the U.S. government made a concerted effort to include all multilingual immigrant groups, and as a result it will likely show the U.S. as it is: a truly multicultural nation, a multigenerational society and a multi-segmented household economy.

Specifically, the new census will show numbers reflecting a large and fast-growing Hispanic population that for years many people were aware of, but never fully grasped the impact this group can have in the future. The Hispanic segement will represent over 50 million consumers with over a trillion dollars in buying power, writes Terry Soto in The Transformation of the U.S. Consumer Market (pdf).

But how do you capture and retain the Hispanic consumer? First and foremost, you need to gather market insights. Because the U.S. Hispanic is so incredibly diverse, you have to identify and understand the micro-segments within it that will be the most productive for your brand.

For instance, find out geographically what makes the most sense. Texas and California have high concentrations of Hispanic consumers, with Los Angeles the largest city market, with 5MM total — more than the entire country of Costa Rica. If you are looking for volume, geographically targeting these regions would make your marketing and sales efforts more efficient.

Also, the segment as a whole is young and fertile — they are and will continue to represent a stronger growth market compared to non‐Hispanic whites who are older and not having kids at the same rate. Know how your product or service benefits this age group, and think about the long-term investment of gaining loyal customers now.

What about language? Translation can be tricky, since the type of Spanish spoken by these groups can be very different. And, knowing that two thirds of Hispanics speak English and consume mostly English language media, is there value in marketing to Hispanic consumers in Spanish?

Definitely. The answer again lies in those multicultural insights. When you have solid information concerning pertinent lifestyle and cultural aspects, you can use those as cues as input for product development, messaging, merchandising and promotions in both English and Spanish.

From an article in AMA’s MarketingPower (registration required):

This means ensuring that product/service and retail delivery aligns with the types of Hispanic customers buying the company’s products or going into your stores or websites — this would include digital screens, employees, self‐serve payment or checkout kiosks, signage, collateral, merchandising and product assortment.

This also means that post sale strategies, actions and communications must follow suit — everything from billing, to customer service lines, CRM and loyalty efforts and even online account management functionality must all be in alignment — this doesn’t always mean language, but it certainly means culturally relevant content and images.

Given the recent controversy around Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, some companies are jittery about blatantly marketing to strictly non-English speakers, and vice versa. How do you direct messages at recent immigrants, without taking a political stance or scaring them away?

Reduce messaging that may call immigrants out publicly, such as billboards or in-store marketing, and instead buy more Spanish media spots to reach them in the privacy of their homes, the article suggests. Wells Fargo, for example, offers but doesn’t overtly advertise the fact that they accept Mexican ID cards from people opening an account.