Hispanic Marketing Part 1: More than Español

Hispanic_Marketing_More_Than_Espanol

It’s hardly news that the Hispanic market – in all categories – is lucrative and growing in population, education and buying power. The 52 million Hispanics in the U.S. are projected to spend $1.5 trillion this year. That’s why companies of all sizes are trying to win them as customers – it’s smart business.

But in 2015, Hispanic marketing still too often misfires when companies aren’t fluent in the Hispanic customer mindset. In fact, sometimes Hispanic marketing is downright bad. Some of the common offenders:

  • Bad Spanish translation. Words and sentence structures don’t necessarily translate simply from English to Spanish. Such as a recent regional radio ad that clearly intended to say a service was “on point” but instead translated to mean “on period.” Whoops.
  • Images that look like a different audience. Images that aren’t culturally inclusive accidentally reveal when the language was translated, but the promotions were really designed for someone else.
  • Jokes that aren’t funny because they’re offensive. Waffle House learned through a Cinco de Mayo Tweet that the name Juan isn’t actually a pun for “one.” As if anyone, regardless of their culture, likes their name or language to be a punchline.
  • Any talk about politics including, but certainly not limited to, immigration. The Hispanic audience is huge and diverse. So are their politics. Any assumption otherwise will be an expensive lesson.
  • Misuse of culture or traditions. Cinco de Mayo is too often misreferenced as Mexico’s Independence Day. Except that that’s a whole different holiday – and it happens in September. Nor is it an American booze fest. Why is “Drinko de Mayo” not cool? Because it’s not respectful.

Even if some marketers are oblivious, the audience isn’t. That’s why marketers should be sure someone fluent in the language and culture helps shape the messaging. And, if necessary, they should tweak the promotion until it speaks to the audience appropriately.

Although Hispanics as a market are distinctive, what they want isn’t – to be understood, respected and valued. Who doesn’t want that?

Michelle Cuevas-Stubblefield Portrait Icon
Michelle Cuevas-Stubblefield

Vice president of business development at jones huyett Partners. She is an activist and advocate for Hispanic community issues, including cultural awareness, inclusion and community development.

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