How Not to Market to Hispanics
By Hayley Savage
1. Assume all Hispanics are
the same: There are many factors that influence Hispanic behavior
and response to marketing efforts, including country of origin and
level of American acculturation. Hispanics
are culturally diverse and taking a “one size fits all” approach
probably won’t work.
2. Ask a Hispanic
consumer or business what language they prefer and then don’t
communicate with them in their language of preference: I can’t
tell you how many times a client has wanted to acquire Spanish
speaking customers using outsourced Spanish speaking resources but has
no internal infrastructure in place to send fulfillment material in Spanish or provide Spanish speaking customer service
representatives. This is
the easiest way to set an expectation, disappoint, and then lose a
3. Translate your English
script, offer, or copy word for word: You should be
“transliterating” your script, offer, or copy by adjusting the
language and meaning to fit the culture.
For example, Hispanics in general are family-oriented and put
family first. Minimizing
or ignoring this cultural norm by opening an insurance offer with
“pennies per day” rather than focusing on family security will
literally be lost in the translation.
4. Think you have to
speak with Hispanics only in Spanish: Marketers
need to use both languages in order to establish cultural and personal
relevancy with Hispanic consumers.
Not having fully bilingual representatives in the call center
is foolish because 20% of all “Spanish-speaking” customers prefer
to speak English. For
direct mail or fulfillment packages, printing English on one side and
Spanish on the other side is the safest way not to choose wrong.
out a script, offer, or copy without first consulting an expert: Many
everyday Spanish words used in one country are actually insults in
another. Take the time to
get advice first before taking the risk of alienating your target
6. Think you can
always identify a Spanish-speaking individual by their last name: This
is why inferred lists don’t always work.
Lopez and Martinez are not always Hispanic surnames and making a general assumption about
what language someone speaks just by their last name is a risky
7. Call a Brazilian
a Hispanic: People from Brazil want to be referred to as Brazilians.
They speak Portuguese, not Spanish, so this country needs to be
approached differently than others in Latin America.
8. Choose not to
market to Hispanics consumers: According to the 2004 U.S. Census report, there are
40 million documented Hispanics in the United States or 14.2% of the population; that’s more than the entire population
of Canada! Plus, the number of
prosperous Hispanic households, those with incomes of at least
$100,000, rose 137 percent between 1990 and 2000.
U.S. Hispanic purchasing power has
surged to nearly $700 billion and is projected to reach $1 trillion by
2010, nearly three times the overall national rate of consumer
purchasing power over the past decade.
Hispanic employment has grown more than 16 percent since
2000 while overall U.S. employment has barely
grown 2 percent.
9. Choose not to market to Hispanic businesses:
are approximately 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United
States that generate almost $300 billion in annual gross receipts.
By 2010, there will be 3.2 million Hispanic firms generating
$465 billion. The number
of Hispanic-owned companies grew 82 percent since 1997, making them
among the fastest-growing business segments in the nation.
One out of every ten small businesses will be Hispanic-owned by
10. Bypass Hispanic
women and speak with Hispanic businessmen instead because they make
the decisions: More
than one-third, or 34.9% of all Hispanic-owned firms are owned by
women-owned firms employ 18.5% of the workers in all Hispanic-owned
firms and generate 16.3% of the sales.
Four in ten minority women-owned firms are owned by
is the Senior Vice President of
Sales & Marketing at Influent.
She may be reached at email@example.com.
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