This article was originally published in Localogy.
Working as a Latina in the marketing field for over a decade, I get to experience first-hand the way brands angle for my attention through so many channels. It still amazes me when I’m doing dishes, listening to the radio through my Google Home, and an ad will come on in Spanish. Some approaches feel authentic and right at home. Others feel forced and out of place. It takes a lot of effort to not only find me, but to put the right message in front of me at the right time. When I view marketing through the critical lens of the marketer in me, I see room for improvement and missed opportunities in how companies market to Hispanic consumers.
Hispanic are the fastest-growing population segment in the United States. Hispanic consumers currently make up 23.5% of the U.S. Millennial population, alone, meaning that nearly one in four Millennials is Hispanic. As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow, so does our buying power, which is expected to reach the $1.9 Trillion by 2023! However, along with growth comes complexity, so national brands face challenges to meet this audience and measure the success of targeted marketing efforts. In the past targeting a specific geography or running ads in a particular language were some of our best tactics. Nowadays it is not only possible to reach potential Hispanic customers where they are in their customer journey through seamless customer experiences, it is expected.
Hispanic and Latino consumers are not monolithic. We represent a diverse mix of cultures, ages and generations. To effectively grow your brand, it is important to understand the complexities of the Hispanic consumer and employ a mix of media that recognizes and acknowledges the culture, including language.
Hispanic identity has become more fluid in recent years. The 2020 census, as well as most of the research organizations in the current landscape, used self-identification to determine who is Hispanic. Self-identification drew attention to the many layers of Hispanic identity and the many ways Hispanics view our own racial identity. If you identify yourself as Hispanic or Latino in the census and in life, it’s probably because you or your ancestors were born in Spain or in a Central or South American country. That makes you one of the 62 million members of this ethnicity that were counted in the 2020 census. That’s 18% of the U.S. population, and we are on track to compose one third of the American population by 2050.
Despite our population size, our fluidity based on self-identification is part of what makes it much harder to find us. Add to that the fact that speaking Spanish is also no longer a clear-cut differentiation and, another notable trend, we are more widely distributed throughout the country. Although Hispanics continue to be concentrated in certain key states, our presence is also expanding quickly to areas that were not previously considered traditional places for Hispanics residents. Look at me, I live in Ohio, speak predominantly English, and don’t watch Telenovelas. We keep breaking the stereotypes. Marketers searching for us in the Southwest but ignoring us in the Northwest and Southeast do so to their own detriment.
National brands find Hispanic customers through their local channel partners. No one knows their communities better than the channel partners who serve and live in those communities. So national brands can increase leads and sales by leveraging their local partners’ intimate knowledge of your target Hispanic communities and establishing meaningful relationships with Hispanic customers in specific locales.
In the United States, approximately 43 million Hispanic people speak English as a first language. However, this is only a percentage of the total Hispanic population in the U.S. Many Hispanic people speak Spanish as our first, or only, language, while a large number are bilingual like me. Even among the large number of us who speak English, some do like to consume our media in Spanish. To target the Hispanic community in Spanish, brands can leverage a variety of tactics, including:
The primary difference when targeting on paid search compared to targeting on paid social is that paid search uses the web browsers’ language settings within Chrome, Firefox, and others to serve ads in Spanish and to allow people to search in Spanish. With paid social, companies can target Hispanic users with English or Spanish content. Paid search is a lower funnel tactic which targets consumers based on what the consumer is actively looking to purchase. Paid social targets Hispanic consumers when they are online and have interest in a particular product or service but are not actively searching for it at the moment.
Other programmatic tactics, such as display ads, connected TV, and streaming audio, are also very effective in connecting in-language with this demographic.
Understanding your target Hispanic audience is key in developing your digital strategy. While the usual details about age, sex, and location are still important, a brand must consider more granular demography. For instance, are your potential customers first, second, or third generation Americans? Are they English only, Spanish only, or bilingual? First language versus second language? Answering these questions is critical in outlining your approach.
BrandMuscle has an agile team of marketing consultants and paid media buyers who are well versed in leveraging third party data to accurately and effectively target Hispanic audiences. We use this data to target in Spanish, English, or both, depending on your company’s goals and audience. The development and execution of this unique strategy will help you reach customers and gain market share with the Hispanic consumer, which represents 18% of the U.S. population. And remember, keep your marketing authentic. Do not condescend and do not pander, because we will know.
Contact BrandMuscle to better understand your target audience and discuss which marketing tactics and strategy can reach them.
Director of Marketing Strategy at BrandMuscle
Director of Media at BrandMuscle
Director, Paid Media at BrandMuscle