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Ignore the Latino Market at Your Own Peril

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If you’re a marketer and you haven’t already, it’s time for you to get real about the Latino market.

No doubt you’ve seen or heard the news about the most recent Census. The data indicates that the Latino population jumped from 12.5% of the total U.S. population in 2000, up to 16.3% in 2010.

Why is this a big deal? Because it represents a whopping 43% increase in just 10 years. Plus, if you look at children alone (age 0-17), the Latino population is currently 23.1% of the total. That’s a national trend any marketer needs to pay attention to. The big question though, is how do you put that information to use? Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself to get you started.

Is it right for your brand to market to Latinos?

There are two questions you have to ask yourself right now:

1. What type of business are you in?
If you market directly to the consumer, you need to think about the Latino market regardless of your product. Latinos may not be a large portion of your customers right now, but they have the potential to be. Think about it. This demographic is growing. It will continue to grow. Start learning and experimenting now before your competitors beat you to it. Right now, Latinos have more disposable income than any other minority group. If you are a B2B business, you may have some time depending on your customer segments---chances are they are more in line with functional benefits. But, you should still know that their customers are likely to be increasingly Latino and you have an opportunity to help them meet the needs of their customers---even anticipate the needs of their customers---if you get a jump on learning about the Latino market now.

2. Where is your market?
If you manage a national brand, the answer is pretty easy. Start working on your Latino strategy immediately. But what if you’re regional, or local? A good place to start is to check out the census data in your own market. You can easily get that information at (and get the Latino brief right here). For example, if you’re in California, you already know that the Latino demo is a major part of your market, now representing over 37% of the population. But what about other states?

Take a look at this map from the Census. All those dark blue areas represent counties that have at least doubled their Latino population in the last 10 years. Again, that’s a trend that cannot be denied.

Let go of your assumptions about Latinos.

The facts are:

Latinos control a significant portion of the discretionary income of the country.  A study from the Selig Center for Economic Growth says that ‘Hispanic buying power is expected to grow 50 percent in the next five years, from $1 trillion in 2010 to $1.5 trillion in 2015.’

Latinos  embrace technology. When you include home, work and other public places, 88% of Latinos have access to the Internet and Latinos over-index the general population in having access to the mobile internet via their phone and other mobile devices

Latinos over-index in their use of social media; 72% of all U.S.-based Latinos are on Facebook, and Latinos spend more time there than average white Americans.

Overwhelmingly, Latinos consume media in English and Spanish, but more on this in a moment.

Does this mean you need to start marketing in Spanish?

That depends.  On the one hand, 39% of Latinos say they are more loyal to companies who show an appreciation for their culture by advertising in Spanish, and 42% report that they believe companies who advertise in Spanish respect their heritage and really want their business.  But that’s not the whole story.

A lot of what you do is going to depend on what generation of Latino you’re marketing to, which is going to dictate their acculturation levels in most cases.  For example, first-generation Latinos are overwhelmingly Spanish dominant while third-generation Latinos will likely be English dominant. But the thing that most people miss in this data point is that multiple generations live under one roof, so you have to have a strategy to reach the whole home, and often that means doing a mix of English and Spanish, depending on your product or service.

Look at what others are doing!

There are some pretty major brands changing the way they do things.  Just last week, Nissan rolled out a Facebook page entirely in Spanish as a companion to their English page.

And Diageo (the company behind spirits brands Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Cuervo and others) announced a precedent setting ad spend with Spanish language titan Univision.  Why?  Because numbers don’t lie and these companies and others see that paying attention to the Hispanic consumer is no longer optional.  In June at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference, Coca-Cola’s CMO, Bea Perez, stated, “We know that eighty-six percent of the growth through 2020 for Coca-Cola’s youth-target market will come from multicultural consumers, especially Hispanic, and focusing on this segment is critical to the company’s future growth.”  That’s a staggering number, and Coke is a pretty sure bet to follow when it comes to branding.

What do I do now?

1. Do a little bit of research. (There are great resources online.)

2. Go find some more best practices. Take a look around you and see what your competitors are doing.

3. If you know you need to act now but don’t have the expertise yourself, hire an expert.

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Ginger Zumaeta is the CEO of Beehive Group, a multicultural marketing agency specializing in Latino engagement. She can be reached at

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  • by Whitney Jasnoch Mon Aug 1, 2011 via blog

    NewFuturo is a great site for Latinos that we are privileged to work with it's founder, Pete Wilkins. I agree with this article and am involved with the Latino community myself on a personal side as well. Awesome people and a great potential to help all succeed. :)

  • by Ted Mon Aug 1, 2011 via blog

    Thanks Ginger,
    This speaks to the greater issue of not just Latinos, but the entire multicultural market. You're correct that this is a much bigger issue than simply advertising in Spanish. There's a significant opportunity for progressive marketers to meaningfully connect with this growing and highly connected market. The fact is, if you don't, your competitors soon will. Here's an article from that speaks to the potential pitfalls marketers should be aware of when targeting Multicultural audiences via mobile marketing and new media campaigns.

    Top 3 Multicultural Mobile Marketing Mistakes | Beneath the Brand

    Twitter: @TedCurtin

  • by mpdailyfix Wed Aug 3, 2011 via blog

    "Children alone (age 0-17), the Latino population is currently 23.1% of the total." Does this show that businessmen should turn to more couples market?

    These surveys, how many companies can do that? Market research is not easy, is not suitable for each business.

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