Hola, ¿qué hay de nuevo?

That’s what Latino consumers want to know – what’s new? The Latino demographic accounts for 17% of the American population, and that number is growing quickly.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, on July 1, 2013 there were roughly 54 million Hispanics living in the U.S.1 By 2060, that population segment will grow to 128.8 million consumers – and that’s a number your business can’t afford to ignore.

The Hispanic demographic is diverse, with Spanish-speaking people coming to the U.S. from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South America, and other countries with many different cultures, histories, and dialects or slang. To reach this fast-growing market, businesses must understand the specific needs of Latino markets – what they like and what they don’t like. A general approach to establish brand recognition won’t be as effective as a targeted campaign that “speaks the language” of Latinos.

For decades, companies selling to Latino consumers simply translated their English-language ad campaigns, dubbing in Spanish voice-overs so Latinos could at least understand what the commercial or print advert was about.

Today, that’s no longer the case. Companies are targeting the Latino demographic, specifically focusing on cultural differences that distinguish these markets.

First, hire employees who understand the language, the culture, the history, the society, personal values, and all of the other elements used to create an effective ad campaign. You may have the absolute, hands-down best copywriter on staff, but if they write sales text in English that is then translated into Spanish, chances are you won’t see the return on the investment you made in hiring that expensive copywriter.

Hire staff who can tell you, with certainty, what various Latino markets like, how this growing market segment describes products and needs, and how information is spread across different segments using technology.

Utilize cultural references. It’s not enough to conduct a literal translation of English when reaching out to any different culture. It’s not just the language; it’s cultural differences, as well. As native English speakers, we may chuckle at the literal translations of product assembly directions of items made in China, Japan, and other Asian manufacturing economies. Sure, we can sort of figure out what the directions say (pictures help) but we also know those directions were not written by a native English speaker.

The same is true of American companies reaching out to Latino markets. To be successful, your company must understand the culture as well as the language. This is especially important when trying to use humor. Something that makes an English speaker laugh may leave a Latino scratching his head in confusion.

Create quantifiable objectives that can be measured and refined. Your campaign must employ detailed assessments of marketing success, marketing materials that appeal to the diverse cultures that make up the Latino market, and a strategy to deliver that highly-focused message to Latino audiences. The “one size fits all” ad campaign is no longer effective.

Provide options. This is especially easy with Internet marketing and website design. Offer readers and visitors the option of an instant translation from American English to Spanish or Portuguese. The programming isn’t difficult, and website visitors can choose the language with which they’re most comfortable.

Many Latino consumers are bi-lingual, speaking both English and Spanish. Enabling website visitors to see ads and websites in different languages shows an appreciation for the Latino market – a sign of respect to potential buyers of your company’s products or services.

Build connectivity. The Hispanic market in the U.S. employs technology. Using smartphones and social media websites, members of the Latino market talk to each other using the latest in technology. This market is tech savvy and very connected to other members of this growing demographic.

Use this proclivity for tech connectivity to create word-of-mouth marketing in which one consumer recommends a product or service to friends. Chances are, a recommendation from a friend is one that prospects will trust. After all, the recommendation came from a connected friend who speaks the language and understands the cultural references in your targeted adverts.

In your online marketing, use keywords employed by Latinos conducting an Internet search. Search engines understand Spanish. Add these keywords if you offer visitors the opportunity to translate your website with a single click.

This is a fast growing market, and if you don’t reach out with targeted messaging that respects language and culture, there’s a good chance you’ll see “no mas” growth while competitors drain your Latino client base.

1.   http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/populations/REMP/hispanic.html


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.