The president of Market Vision (www.mvmas.com), a full-service marketing agency based in San Antonio, TX, Yvonne García is the latest marketing professional to contribute a bi-monthly column to CHIEF MARKETER.
Wake up and smell the café: There are 41.3 million U.S. Hispanics, and if you’re not trying to reach them, you’re missing out on a huge market segment.
But if in trying to reach the diverse Hispanic population you’re relying on misconceptions and outdated info, you won’t be earning a return on investment. Whether you’re already marketing to Hispanics or just getting started, these six tips can help you maximize your investment.
1) The faces of your neighbors are changing–no matter where you live.
Where do you concentrate your Hispanic marketing efforts to reach the 41.3 million U.S. Hispanics? California or Texas, where almost half of the nation’s Hispanic population lives, or one of the 11 other states with at least a half-million Hispanic residents?
Latinos are all over the map. From 1990 to 2000, the Hispanic population more than tripled in Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee!
Tip: Because the U.S. Hispanic population is diverse, get the most mileage out of your budget by appealing to the broad Hispanic audience through cultural commonalities and “Walter Cronkite Spanish,” e.g., with one TV campaign. Then localize your message with local print, in-store promotions, or community events. After all, most companies don’t have one English-language ad campaign for Boston consumers and another for those in Memphis.
2) Español is here to stay.
Only four other countries–Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina–have more Spanish-speaking residents than the U.S. A recent study by Roslow Research Group (prepared for Hispanic USA, June 2005) declares that the number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics will grow by 45% during the next 20 years.
Because immigrants often congregate in specific areas, some Latinos live here for years without becoming fluent in English. Others may speak English well but feel more comfortable in Spanish. Some English-speaking Latino youths are undergoing “retro acculturation,” as they realize the career advantages of being bilingual or just want to connect with their culture.
Language is a tie that binds. We may not all speak Spanish proficiently, we may use different words, but for many Latinos, English is the language of business, and Spanish is the language of our corazón (heart).
Tip: You can reach many Hispanics in Spanish at local supermarkets, at church, or in clubs. But don’t assume that all Hispanics speak Spanish. If you do market your product or service in Spanish, use bilingual merchandising tools, brand ambassadors, or hotline operators to cover your bases.
3) Leave your money misconceptions at the door.
“Hispanics buy only used cars,” you may have heard. Or “Hispanics don’t have money for computers.”
True, the median Hispanic income isn’t on par with that of the general market. But Hispanics’ 2005 disposal income is pegged at $736 billion (Selig Center for Economic Growth). The number of Hispanic households with annual income in excess of $100,000 rose 137% from 1990 to 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A constant flow of immigrants, young workers climbing the career ladder, and an increase in Hispanics starting businesses all contribute to the buying-power surge.
Tip: Focus on how Hispanics spend their money. Hispanics tend to make every day special for their families, as opposed to saving up for a family vacation in Vail. According to the Selig Center, they spend a higher proportion of their income on groceries; telephone services; furniture; major appliances; men’s and children’s clothing; footwear; housing; and gas and motor oil.
4) La cigüeña (the stork) has arrived with the next generation of baby boomers.
Latina moms are the largest-growing segment of new mothers, with the highest birth and fertility rates; they also are also are the youngest mothers and have the largest families, according to a June 2004 study by MarketResearch.com.
About one in five births in the United States in 2000 was to a Latina. In fact, with a Hispanic fertility rate 47% higher than the overall average, it’s no surprise that, according to the Census Bureau, one of every two people added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004, was Hispanic.
In Los Angeles, for example, 57% of all kids under age six are Hispanic! (Synovate 2004 U.S. Hispanic Market Report).
Tip: Start cooing in Spanish–or bilingually–about toys, clothes, baby-care products, children’s furniture, kids’ sports equipment, groceries, and college accounts.
5) Latinos log on.
Cyberspace is abuzz about Latinos online:
• Hispanics are the fastest-growing online population; 12.6 million Hispanics are online (Yankelovich MONITOR Multicultural Marketing Study 2005).
• 45% of online Hispanics are 24 years old or younger (Interactive Advertising Bureau, 2004). • 45% of adult Hispanics have access to the Internet at home, 24% at work (2005 AOL Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy).
• Among online Hispanics, the bilingual and English-dominant segments are equal (40% each) (2005 AOL Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy).
• Three of 10 Hispanic buyers online spend more than $200, and 82% made an online purchase within the last year (Direct Marketing Association, 2005).
Hispanics are heavy users of the Internet for entertainment, says the AOL/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy*, but they also log on for information about health, finances, and purchase decisions for their families. Latino parents want to give their children advantages they never had and put them on a level playing field with their peers.
Tip: Make your Website available in Spanish. Provide easily viewable links for language options. Consider online ads, promotions, and coupons.
6) Hispanics like “hands on” marketing.
Immigrants have more product choices here than in Latin America. Language hurdles make them eager for information in Spanish. “Hands on” experiences introduce products in a nonthreatening environment and are useful decision-making tools.
Companies that build their brands in the Hispanic market from the ground up and market their products in a way Latinos understand, whether in-language or in-culture, will be the most successful.
Tip: Be visible where Hispanics live, work, and play – through a combination of above-the-line (advertising) and below-the-line (promotions, events, sponsorships, community outreach, PR) tactics.
En fin, marketing to Hispanics is just like marketing to any other group…only different! Know your target, get your strategy right, and everything else will fall into place.
*Full disclosure: AOL Latino is a Market Vision client.