With the Hispanic population in the US expected to surpass white non-Hispanic inhabitants by 2030, marketers are scrambling for ways to tap into growing spending power while generating loyalty to their brands.

The challenge they face is to move beyond simply pushing established products or services. Success requires a consumer-centric approach that hinges on offerings that are relevant to the target population.

Strong, enduring brand loyalty can be built among Hispanics, but not by using tactics that work for white, Middle America. Winning strategies reflect the needs, preferences, and native cultures of Hispanics without ignoring the ongoing acculturation to their new homeland.

This complex mix of factors makes it imperative to have a robust segmentation that enables marketers to find and act upon the most attractive segments. The right approach eliminates the assumption that individuals from the same country think alike even though there are shared beliefs that span nationalities and geography.

Critical considerations include the country of origin, number of generations in the US, and more typical variables such as education and disposable income.

In addition to understanding all of the previous items, successful marketers need to incorporate into their perspectives how purchasing decisions are made by Hispanics. The opinions of friends and family members weigh heavily in buying decisions for the average Hispanic consumer.

A program shown recently on cable TV's HGTV demonstrated how a real estate broker cashed in on that knowledge. Hispanic would-be homebuyers were allowed to spend a night in the house so they could invite family and friends for dinner prior to making the purchase decision. The family decided to purchase the house after getting positive feedback from the guests.

Once Hispanic segments are identified and targeted and purchase drivers identified and measured, marketers need to offer brands that customers know and trust. This is especially true for those first-generation Hispanics who still have strong ties to their native countries and cultures. New York-based Colgate-Palmolive Co., for example, is successfully wooing Hispanic customers here by importing Suavitel, a popular fabric softener it sells throughout Latin America.

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Andrew Pierce (apierce@prophet.com) is a senior partner at Prophet (www.prophet.com), a leading global consultancy.

Jorge (jaguilar@prophet.com) is a senior associate, at Prophet ( www.prophet.com), a global consultancy