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Reaching Hispanics: First Segment by Acculturation, Then Speak Their Language

by Ederick Lokpez  |  
June 1, 2010

Every time we hear or read "Hispanic market," we also hear the tagline "acculturation level." So what is acculturation, and why is it important to take it into consideration?

By definition, acculturation is the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture. To simplify, acculturation is the time between arrival to a new culture and assimilation into that culture.

The acculturation process takes an estimated 10-15 years and varies from person to person. Hispanics have longer acculturation periods because they keep their values, celebrate their heritage, and pass those values and that heritage from generation to generation.

Hispanics tend not to assimilate as quickly as previous migration waves—for two reasons:

  • The first reason is technology. Today it is easy and inexpensive to keep in touch with the homeland. The use of the Internet and advances in communications allow us to communicate with those on the other side of the world as easily as it is to talk to your neighbor.
  • The second reason is "celebration of diversity." In the modern world, diversity is a good thing; whereas, 40-50 years ago, it was not socially accepted and immigrants made a greater effort to assimilate as fast as possible into their new host environment.

Now it is OK to be different; we not only acknowledge and accept diversity but also celebrate it.

Acculturation as Segmentation

We use acculturation as the first level of segmentation for the Hispanic market.

Acculturation level allows us to segment Hispanics by language attainment; income level; and, in many cases, purchasing behaviors.

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Ederick Lokpez is principal of HispanoConnect and a Hispanic-marketing consultant who has helped Fortune 500 companies to improve their reach within the Hispanic market. Reach Ederick via

LinkedIn: Ederick Lokpez

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  • by Cristina Cardona Tue Jun 1, 2010 via web

    Thanks Ederick,
    Very interesting article. Although speaking Spanish is not the only way to connect to the Hispanic market, it is a very important advantage.

    The Hispanic market is growing so fast in the US, that businesses should seriously consider going bilingual if they want to sussesfully reach this market. Having employees learn Spanish can be a great benefit to any business, especially if they are located in some parts of the country, such as Southern Florida, Southern California and parts of New York City, where Spanish is no less dominant a language than English.

    Cristina Cardona

  • by Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez Tue Jun 1, 2010 via web

    I thought you couldn't have put this better. Congrats. I was raised in South Florida but born in Houston and I like how you specifically emphasized, businesses shouldn't treat them all the same but differentiate hispanics by the language (dialect), food, family, and religion. Employees from the South Florida region would be a great candidate for any business targetting Hispanics because they have awareness of the uniqueness between: Mexicans, Central/South Americans, and individuals from the Carribean. Unlike in Texas where the dominant hispanic group are mostly Mexicans and Central Americans. You can't conduct busienss between a Mexican and a Colombian the same, there are completely different ways of speaking and approach each group.

    Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez
    Equine Specialist - Passion for Providing Excellence
    MBA Student - University of Phoenix, In Campus

  • by eric diaz Sun Jun 6, 2010 via web

    I like the article and strategy. My only comment is that I think there are more than 3 categories. In fact there may be closer to 7. However, I do understand that bucketing large groups of people can be a challenging feat.
    I myself feel somewhere between Bicultural and Multicultural but neither one really makes me say, "that's me."

  • by Isabella Lorenzo-Hubert Tue Feb 1, 2011 via web

    Yes I agreed with Eric comments, am myself between bicultural and multicultural. Also I would like to point the fact that in most of these articlesit is used the word Latino and Hispanic . Would you use both interchengably?

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