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Census 2010: How to Reach the Growing Hispanic Population

Insights from REVOLUCION, a Hispanic Branding Agency

1. The 2010 Census results reveal that the Hispanic population has experienced significant growth. In your opinion, what does this mean for the marketing industry?

The 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, or one in every six Americans. The numbers become even more impressive when you look at the 17 and younger demographic, which is now 23.1% Hispanic – yes, nearly 1 in 4 American youths is Hispanic!

From a marketing perspective, the implication is clear: the old dichotomy between general market and Hispanic market is no longer valid. The new general market is a highly Hispanic market, and therefore a coherent Hispanic marketing strategy is critical to the growth and long-term well being of any business. This is particularly true for those industries that focus on the youth market such as soft drinks, music, apparel and tech brands.

The 2010 Census results reveal that the Hispanic population has experienced significant growth

2. Is this population growth centered more regionally and locally versus nationally? 

Traditionally, the Hispanic population was highly concentrated in key urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Houston, and marketers were able to reach a majority of the market by focusing on these Hispanic-dense cities.

However, the big news from the Census is the emergence and rapid growth of new Hispanic markets that formerly had only a minimal Hispanic presence. These include key cities in states such as Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia / Maryland. From a media perspective, this means that buying Hispanic media on a national rather than regional basis may now become a more efficient option for many brands wanting to target Hispanics.

3. More and more, general advertising and marketing companies have started to focus on the Hispanic market. How do you think this will change and evolve given the new Census figures?

Perhaps the biggest change is that parallel to the eroding distinction between general market consumers and Hispanic market consumers, the sharp distinction between a general market agency and a Hispanic agency is no longer as relevant.

Some general market agencies have responded to this emerging opportunity by bringing Hispanic creative teams in-house and persuading their clients to assign them both general market and Hispanic duties. The most high profile example of this happened a year ago when Home Depot moved its Hispanic business from its Hispanic agency of six years to its general market agency. Additionally, there are examples of the reverse case in which a brand’s consumer base is so predominantly Hispanic that the brand entrusts all of its marketing to a Hispanic agency.

We embrace the fact that there is more competition in the field from shops that used to only handle general market campaigns. The agency that reveals a hidden insight, develops a cutting-edge campaign and delivers business results will always win out!

4. We know, the U.S. Hispanic population is not homogenous; it is made up of people with roots in various countries. How should marketers take this into consideration? 

Historically, Hispanic marketing specialists tended to focus on country-of-origin differences as a sales tactic. By underscoring the fact that Cubans are very different from Mexicans who are very different from Argentineans, etc., the marketer painted a picture of opaque complexity to convince brand owners that his expertise and services were needed.

Country-of-origin differences are real and significant. But as marketers, it is critical that we know our customer intimately, and demographic information such as country of origin is just one aspect of a complex consumer. In fact, just as with targeted marketing in the general market, there are many models that can be applied. Among these are the Acculturation model, based on the extent to which someone retains practices/beliefs of the country-of-origin or adopts practices/beliefs of mainstream U.S. culture; and the Psychographic model, which groups consumers by their lifestyle, as manifested by their activities, interests and opinions.

Marketers should choose a segmentation model based on which will yield the most useful information for the product or service they want to sell. A brand that sells active wear may be best served by a psychographic approach, while a financial services company seeking to sell complex retirement products to Hispanics may use a combination of demographic and acculturation data.

Returning to country-of-origin, national brand marketers must understand that just as they address the general market in English in a single ‘generic’ voice, appropriate for all markets and free of local nuance, the same is appropriate in Spanish. Use a ‘universal’ Spanish that will be understandable to all national segments and draw on insights that span national cultures. Nuances particular to individual Hispanic cultures can be effectively used to marketing products of that country, to add nuance to local executions, or to even to add a layer of humor to some national executions.

5. In your opinion are there any specific industries that could be doing a better job of communicating with this population? 

There are many industries that have a strong opportunity to do a better job. The financial services industry is a good example. While the General Market is saturated for certain basic banking services such as checking and savings accounts, Hispanic consumers (particularly the less acculturated, more Spanish-dominant segment) still under-index for these services – a clear market opportunity. Many institutions, however, still hesitate to pursue these customers because their marketing team may have preconceived notions of who Hispanics are (e.g., probably not here legally, don’t have any funds to save, etc). The truth is that Hispanics come to this country to establish a better life for themselves by learning how the American system works and integrating into it. The brands that make the effort to communicate and educate and serve this under-served population will gain long-term customers.

We hope you found this month's Dialogue informative.  

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