One of the things that people need to understand about the Hispanic consumer is that, once Latin Americans cross the Mexico-U.S. border, the United States puts them all into one giant group. Advertisers and companies put people of all socioeconomic, historical, and cultural backgrounds all into one group of Hispanics. It’s not as simple as just saying, “Here’s how you do Hispanic marketing.”

Really Speaking Your Market’s Language

If you were to market to Hispanics by just putting your product in Spanish, that’s the same thing as marketing to women by just putting your product in pink. There have been many stories of large brands reaching out to Hispanic consumers where even the missing of an accent mark can change the message of a product. That shows that you’ve given very little consideration or investment into doing serious marketing.

Most products and services that “get it right” are those that reflect the consumer audience. When thinking about the Hispanic audience who is young and looking for brands to recognize them as a powerful shopping audience, those individuals want to be addressed in the correct way. Young, socially adept, multilingual, and multicultural—they are much more than just Spanish speakers.

For a product, I would probably leave the name as it is. The marketing and the tagline might change to Spanish, but the name of the product doesn’t necessarily have to change unless you’re starting with a brand-new product and with a Hispanic target audience. Another way to really address the market would be to have focus groups with a variety of Hispanic audiences. For example, you might have second and third generation Hispanics along with those newly arrived Hispanics. There is a spectrum of Latinos to be considered, and when you bring them all together, you get all their different perspectives.

Social Media and the Hispanic Market

One great thing about the habits of Hispanic in the U.S. is that we can really track their utilization of social media. You can target the language, background, and interests of those Latinos. In fact a few years ago, Facebook opened up an office specifically for the Hispanic market to help brands connect to those Hispanic audiences.

I try to take people’s minds out of just the language. There is a wide variety of Hispanics who are English dominant, bilingual, or Spanish dominant. What’s most important for advertising—more than language—is making sure that the advertising message is within the culture, that the message touches emotional points that Latinos can really connect to. It’s critical to consider that, in the United States, marketing to Hispanics actually requires you to do English and Spanish. I’ve seen advertisers create the same ad in English and Spanish, and then some create one in “Spanglish” using both languages. To me, this is a really great idea. This way, whether the viewer is English dominant, bilingual, or Spanish dominant, the company is reaching out to all audiences.

One of the Smartest Investments You Can Make

When you look at the Hispanic market’s growth pattern and youth, you will realize that the it is the one of the smartest investments you can make. It’s puzzling to me because the Hispanic market has been the largest minority group since 2003. So what a lot of brands suffer from is analysis paralysis. Since they don’t understand the market, they don’t do anything about it.

What’s interesting is that 99% of advertising budgets go toward the general market, and companies are very happy with a 1 to 3 percent growth in their market share. However, if they were to effectively invest money into the Hispanic market, their growth in new audiences could be 10 percent to 20 percent. There are so many opportunities when it comes to products in the Hispanic market because so many brands have yet to do anything. It’s a great opportunity; the brand that reaches out to these Hispanic markets in an effective and culturally relevant way will be the one that wins.

Get Back by Giving Back

One of the most effective ways in reaching Hispanic consumers is by community involvement. Researchers found that Hispanic consumers really value organizations that participate in the community, whether it be giving back via scholarships or going to events to support nonprofits. These opportunities can increase the visibility of a brand. It’s also important to go back to culture and develop a message that relates to Latinos’ worldview. Reach out to Hispanic marketing professionals; they can help you avoid mistakes and achieve a successful understanding of this market.

When businesses want to reach a new audience, they are stepping out of their comfort zone. It’s critical to learn about the market. It’s an issue of a very ethnocentric view in the United States. We live here and we think that the world revolves around us; we don’t see that we have very close neighbors that come from unique countries with unique histories, languages, and stories. The 55 million Hispanics in the United States can’t all speak Spanish; they can’t all be illegal; they’re amongst you.