Connecting with Latinos:

What others get wrong and you need to get right

15 February 2021
By : J.D. Estrada

What do $1.3T dollars and over ¼ of the future U.S. population have in common? They’re both tied to the Latino demographic. If you research business articles from the last decade, you’ll see an overwhelming abundance of information discussing the importance of connecting with Latinos…yet it’s 2021, and a lot of companies are still playing catchup. If you ask around, some people will say it’s a hard demographic to connect with, and although that’s true, odds are higher that businesses have tried to adapt tactics and efforts from general market and force their marketing strategy and digital marketing strategy to fit (and work) for the Hispanic Market. But if you notice the last word of the previous sentence, that’s where the challenges start, and the mistakes begin.

So, what’s the difference between Hispanic and Latino? The answer is as easy as it is complex. Hispanic refers to language spoken, i.e., if the person and their country of origin is Spanish speaking, that person is Hispanic. Latino refers more to Latin American countries and that’s where it gets interesting, especially in the U.S. It is not uncommon for a person from Puerto Rico, Uruguay, or Nicaragua to be asked where in Mexico they’re from. To some people this will make them chuckle and some other people will ask, what’s wrong with that question? Geographically speaking, Mexico is part of North America, Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean, Nicaragua is located in Central America, and Uruguay is deep in South America. We’re talking that each one is thousands of miles away from each other yet for many people and many businesses, they want a one-size-fits all solution to their Hispanic Market challenge. Also, depending on the country of origin and the individual, some will prefer the term Hispanic and others will prefer Latino and the best way to decide which to use is actually our first major tip.

Tip: Really listen to your customers and focus on inclusive growth

There are several ways to connect with your customers, from social media to website surveys, customer calls, and just interacting with people. Curiously, we’ve done all of those and more for a wide variety of clients all across the U.S. If you’d like to find out more of all that we do, check out our Capabilities Page… but we digress, so now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Latinos in the U.S. are a varied demographic, for sure, though most of us will always appreciate a genuine desire to help. For many Latinos, it’s quite common to need or prefer help in Spanish, and communication barriers are one of the things you need to tackle efficiently to truly succeed. This will mean the difference between a disgruntled customer, a single sale, and someone who will not only always buy from you and use your service, but someone who will bring business your way.

When you look at the term inclusive growth, this means removing obstacles that affect Hispanics and Latinos disproportionately. It refers to all the things that keep you from connecting with this market and it all starts in the way you talk to them.

Tip: Know the language & get to know them

A lot of businesses think that using a text translator is more than enough to respond to their business needs.

 

There is no shortage of cringe worthy Spanish copy in websites, mistakes galore, and communications that are clearly not developed by someone with mastery of the language or who is a native speaker. As Latinos, we’re very familiar with this and it’s often a one-way ticket for us to look for another option, because if that’s the effort to speak to us, there aren’t much expectations for service with a sonrisa. The main issue is that lack of effort means lost business…and we’re not talking a couple of bucks.

There are stereotypes of what Hispanics are or even should be and the reality is that it’s more complex than that. Although median salaries continue to be lower than other demographics, they continue to increase for Hispanics in the U.S. and there’s no sign of that letting up. Every year, figures go up in regard to U.S. Hispanics completing higher levels of education. It’s a demographic that is hitting its stride and has an ever-growing acquisitive potential, making marketing to Hispanic consumers an essential part of a lot of strategies for a lot of businesses.

Hispanic businesses are on track to account for well over 20% of all U.S. businesses in the future. For a more concrete look, this means 4.37 million Hispanic businesses, which contribute more than $700 billion each year to the economy. Before the pandemic, Latinos were forming businesses at triple the rate of the population as a whole, and not only that, but the five-year growth rate for Hispanic businesses is more than double the national average. Backing these companies to help them succeed is quickly becoming one of the safest bets for a variety of categories and you’ll continue to see companies have online shops, websites, and personnel all in Spanish.

A very curious detail is that although your usual Hispanic centers are still California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New York, other places people would never think of have some of the fastest growing Latino populations…Places like North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. So, take note, if you think your business doesn’t need to consider the Hispanic Market, best to look around and be proactive, rather than reactive.

Help Latinos today and they’ll be allies, customers, and friends for life.

Values, relevance, part of the country’s evolution

 

Although we’ve mentioned the variety in this demographic, certain things do resonate across the board. Family continues to be high on the list, as well as valuing heritage, language, food, and entertainment. But the fact is that Latinos have become part of all our lives, especially popular culture.

In baseball, over 30% of players are Latino, including some of the biggest personalities from Javy Báez, to David “Big Papi” Ortiz, and more. A Colombian actress by the name of Sofía Vergara is the best paid actress in the world. In the world of boxing, if Canelo Álvarez steps into the ring, odds are extremely high that people will tune in. How about trying to think of Broadway without thinking of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Shakira and J-Lo continue to be some of the biggest names in music and if you think “Despacito” was the extent of the relevance of reggaeton and Latino music, take a look at the numbers for Daddy Yankee and Marc Anthony’s collaboration “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta”. Still not convinced, then know that Selena Gómez just released her first song in Spanish, and guess what, it’s reggaetón. Also, if by any chance you still don’t know who Bad Bunny is or wonder about his relevance, picture having your music streamed 600 million times on Spotify and 500 million times on YouTube. Now picture all of that happening during one month. That was December 2020 for Mr. Bunny. In the political spectrum, Sonia Sotomayor is not only the first female Latina member of the Supreme Court, she just swore in Kamala Harris as the first Black and South Asian woman to be Vice President of the United States. And the more you look, the more famous Hispanic people you’ll find in our day to day lives.

All in all, Latinos continue to become a more intrinsic part of U.S. culture, not just Hispanic culture, and that’s not only a good thing in general, it’s great for business. It’s a bit like avocadoes. Twenty years ago, avocadoes were a novelty, something you could only find in Mexican restaurants. Nowadays, they’re pretty much everywhere and well, so are Latinos.

 

Feel a bit overwhelmed? Get in touch.

 

Saying the right thing in the right way is a tricky balancing act, especially in español. But at PM3 we’ve been working in the U.S. Hispanic Market for over 15 years. We’ve helped clients from a variety of industries all across the U.S. truly connect with their Hispanic customers because we don’t just speak the language, we live it.

 

 

¡Gracias!

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