Speaking Two Languages

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

There’s a dichotomy in marketing to the Hispanic community that goes beyond bilingual.

Hispanic culture is hip these days, so it influences general marketing in the same way it influences food, music and fashion. But Hispanic immigrants aren’t assimilating as quickly or deeply as past immigrant groups. Credit cultural pride, tight-knit geographic communities and an increase in Spanish-language media. Newcomers don’t have to learn English, and marketers get national reach in Spanish.

Put the two trends together and there’s the dichotomy: a broader Hispanic flavor to general culture, but a smaller, tighter audience for targeted Hispanic marketing — and a two-tiered audience at that, with some more Americanized than others.

Some marketers dedicate their ethnic marketing dollars to Spanish-only immigrants, and let general-market campaigns suffice for second-generation and assimilated Hispanics. That trend will grow as long as Latino is cool.

Others target two audiences: acculturated, bilingual consumers, and Spanish-only newcomers. That two-year-old trend will grow as the population expands, warranting segmented marketing.

“We have to be O.K. with this dual current moving forward,” says Maria Madruga, president of Mass Promotions, Miami. “The Hispanic consumer is a 150% person: He keeps the influences of his home country, then adds all the good things from his new environment. It enriches his personal possibilities and gives a greater frame of reference.”

The U.S. Census first recognized Hispanics as the largest U.S. minority in 2000. The birth rate mirrors immigration: half the new population has moved to the U.S.; the other half was born here. Hispanics’ national purchasing power tops $600 billion and is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2020.

“Ten years ago, I was embarrassed by my accent,” says Carola Fandino, director of Hispanic marketing at EastWest Creative. “Today it’s the other way around, in business and socially. Right now, it’s cool to be Latin. But we don’t know how long this is going to last.”

“When I was in high school [in San Antonio], we were sent to detention for speaking Spanish in the halls,” says Bonnie Garcia, president of Hispanic agency Market Visions. “I went back for graduation a few years ago, and the valedictorian and salutorian both gave their speeches in Spanish first and then English. It was remarkable.”

But co-opting Hispanic culture can be risky. Coors Brewing Co. has been criticized — and complimented — for its “Guey” TV spot that shows young Hispanic men tossing around the slang term (loosely translated as “dude”) in a bar. It’s reminiscent of Budweiser’s “Whassup?” spots, but some viewers took offense, saying “guey” means “idiot.” Before breaking the spot in May, Coors and its Hispanic ad agency, San Antonio-based Bromley Communications, tested it. “Our target Hispanic consumer…loved the ad. We also found that the ad resonated with Anglos and non-Mexican Hispanics,” says Coors spokesperson Kabira Hatland. The spot — Coors’ first Spanish-language spot on general-market media — continues to run in Dallas and Los Angeles.

“Hispanics are fueling 50% of U.S. population growth. Key Coors Light markets like Dallas and Los Angeles have sizable Hispanic populations; it’s very important for us to talk with this consumer,” Hatland adds. A second TV spot supports Coors Light’s sponsorship of the 2004 Chivas Summer Tournament, a soccer tourney between Mexican teams.

Two Labatt USA campaigns show Latino culture’s dual influence. An August push for Tecate targets second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans, with first-generation and Anglos as secondary audiences. Tu Musica del Verano (“Your music of summer”) gives a $5 rebate on a 12-pack of Tecate and a CD from Virgin Megastores. Consumers sample tunes from EMI Records’ Latin music division at listening posts in Virgin’s 21 stores and at cervezatecate.com. Radio, supermarket P-O-P and Virgin ads support. EastWest Creative, New York City, handles; a smaller Tu Música, Tu Passión (“Your music, your passion”) effort in late 2003 did well for Tecate and Virgin, prompting an expanded push with EMI this summer. (Separately, Labatt retired a Tecate billboard in May after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and community groups complained about the tagline, “Finally. A cold Latina.”)

Meanwhile, Labatt’s early summer push for Dos Equis targets Anglos. Tex Mex Sizzles with Dos Equis stars chef Chris Galceran, who judges a contest for recipes using Dos Equis. The winner gets a trip for four to Galceran’s Austin, TX, Iron Cactus restaurant, where he cooks the winning dish; it’s also featured on Cactus’ menu for a month. Retail displays carry cards with Galceran’s recipe for fajita steak marinade with Dos Equis. EastWest handles.

Two audiences

Even without Anglos, marketers are targeting two audiences — one assimilated, the other not. “Hispanics are very proud of their heritage. They are not assimilating the same way as other waves of immigrants,” Fandino says. “They usually settle where they know somebody — a neighbor from back home, a family member, a friend — and start building their own communities. This is why Hispanics are so geographically clustered and why they are so loyal to their communities.”

Hispanics are “a difficult market to home in on because there are different levels of assimilation, and different subcultures,” Garcia says. A lot of marketers focus on the similarities — family, community involvement, language — in a broad campaign, then address subgroups with local market activities. To that end, Market Vision maintains a database of neighborhood bodegas for merchandising incentive programs.

But there are two tiers of immigrants, too, Maruga says: Low-income agricultural workers and well-educated Central and South Americans “at parity with the U.S. middle-class lifestyle. There’s more of a language barrier than an information barrier.”

Neighborhood marketing helps. In January, Coke launched a retail partnership program called Club Tienda Latina to improve merchandising in Hispanic neighborhoods. Coke provides merchandising materials, such as display racks, single-serve coolers and bilingual P-O-P. Retailers earn points for using the promotional tools to boost volume sales, then redeem points for small-business perks, including security systems, computers and delivery vans. Single-store results are measured by case-sales increases and enhanced visibility for Coke and Fanta brands in and outside the store.

Club Tienda has two tiers to give smaller stores equal footing. “Level I” accounts are supermarkets and independents with three or more cash registers; “Level II” shops are bodegas and Mom & Pops with fewer than three registers. Stores are enrolled in Club Tienda when they start using designated P-O-P; store owners and managers don’t have to be Hispanic to participate. Market Visions handles for Coke.

Some brands segment a campaign to suit two audiences. Unilever’s Knorr ran a January-March campaign starring celeb spokesperson Chef Pepin. Sixty-second radio spots delivered “Cosina in Un Minuto” (“Cooking in One Minute”) cooking tips during drive-time; outdoor boards carried a tune-in message. Spanish-language print ads targeting newer immigrants had recipes and entry forms for a sweeps awarding $200 gift certificates for small appliances (240 winners). Ads in bilingual magazines touted a $10,000 kitchen makeover for more assimilated Hispanics, who are more likely to own a home. Mass Promotions handled.

Marketers generally buy media in the Top 10 markets, but some are mulling the Top 20 markets because the group is growing so quickly, Garcia says. And Spanish-language media are multiplying: 2004 launches include ESPN Deportes, History Channel en Espanol and Telemundo’s bi-lingual sib Mun2 (that’s Mun Dos).

Si TV, an English-language cable network for Hispanics, launched in February to 7 million homes with plans to be in 10 million homes (via cable and DISH) by yearend. The network targets young Latinos who mostly speak English but want Latino programming; Si TV also expects to draw non-Hispanics who like Latino pop culture.

On the move

The traditional six markets — Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego and Texas — are only part of the story now. The fastest-growing Hispanic markets lay outside that grid. Fifty percent of Hispanic-Americans live in California and Texas — but some population pockets are surprising. Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle and towns in Utah, North Carolina, South Dakota and Arkansas have grown quickly as Hispanics migrate for factory or heavy-labor jobs. “Hispanics chase jobs,” Madruga says. “They go where the jobs are.”

“They find these neighborhoods through the grapevine, then develop their own enclaves,” Garcia says. That prompts retailers to change their product mix; even Asian retailers in Atlanta suburb Dalton, GA, now cater to Hispanics. That’s a boon for packaged goods companies, whose experience in Miami or Chicago can help grocers in Raleigh-Durham or Omaha. Success depends on the sales force and retail environment, Maruga cautions.

These geographic clusters are still small, but will reach critical mass in the next few years, she adds.

As the population spreads, so will the media, the influence — and the money.

Hispanics Count

There were 35.3 million Latinos in the U.S. in 2002

46% of the U.S.’s foreign-born population is Hispanic
11% of Americans (28 million) speak Spanish at home
21 million Spanish-speakers live in the South and West
7 million live in the Northeast and Midwest

The top five states for speaking Spanish at home:
New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Florida

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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