When it comes to conveying the importance and relevance of the Hispanic market to businesses, the information that is usually highlighted is all about the percentage of the population or their purchasing power. These are things that most businesses are already aware of, and the numbers are subject to change as soon as the 2010 Census releases the latest data. To provide insight, however, on the true, full picture of this oft-labeled “emerging” market, I’m impelled to write this column from a market perspective—from the Hispanic consumer’s point of view, rather than a marketer’s standpoint.
With the birth of new generations and the complexities of our modern world, the Hispanic community has increasingly adopted two or sometimes even three dimensions in daily living. They lead a specific lifestyle at work, college, or with friends and co-workers—a dimension in their life that is usually conducted in English. But a completely different lifestyle emerges when they are at home with family, one that is often much more relaxed and genuine: when they live their lives in their own language and culture. That is the lifestyle that brands must connect with, if they really want to build a strong relationship with the Hispanic market. Companies should equally realize that it is no longer an emerging market. It is a real, established market; a thriving marketplace with a segment of consumers that is now more oriented to spend than to save, creating the ideal type of client for many brands.
The Hispanic market is established; but it’s different, and it’s growing every single day
In my opinion, the so-called emerging market is already a mature market, which continues to grow every day. This is a market that is already consuming your products (though not necessarily your brands). It is a market that has already established their sources of communication—it is not surprising to find a lot of media in Spanish in any given region: at least four TV channels, six radio stations, and at least three publications. Additionally, the new Hispanic-American generation has greatly embraced social networks; not to mention Hispanics’ extensive use of and savviness in technology, such as mobile/smartphones and other forms of electronic media, no matter what generation they are part of.
Before the 2010 Census, the Hispanic population in Utah was estimated at 13% of the total population, and in recent months has increased dramatically due to internal migration from other states, as there are many who prefer to move to quieter places in terms of immigration laws and wish to receive a warm welcome from the local community.
But whether it’s 13% or 20% of the total population, the figure represents the same percentage of market size. That’s why, sooner or later, brands will have to make the decision to penetrate this segment—but only in the culturally appropriate manner, to reach consumers’ hearts and therefore their wallets too. If brands simply translate their messages or strategies from English to Spanish, they will merely encourage the desire for the product but not necessarily the preference for the brand. If that happens, the big winner is the competitor, who can immediately take advantage without any efforts.
This is serious; we’re talking about sales and marketing strategies to capture all those potential transactions. Some important questions to consider are: Can you translate a marketing strategy aimed at the youth and use it for an adult audience? Or can you translate a marketing strategy aimed at housewives into one for an audience of men? Obviously the answer is NO. But many companies are trying to adapt their strategies and messages created for English-speaking audiences to fit a Spanish audience, because they believe this market is emerging in terms of numbers, which is not true. The market is established; but it’s different, and it’s growing every single day. If the market is different, the strategy of communication has to be different too—period.
If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results.
Alex Guzman is VP Strategic Planning of laGALERÍA, a full-service marketing communications agency focused in helping American companies reach the U.S. Hispanic, Latin American segments. laGALERÍA is a ThomasARTS company based in Utah with offices in NY, MN, CA and TX.