Hispanics are the largest minority group and fastest growing American market segment. With a purchasing power of over $700 billion annually, is it any wonder marketers are seeking ways to infiltrate this segment?...

A MarketingProfs study and article released this week talks about the opportunities within the Hispanic market.
In reality, the term "Hispanic market" is too broad. Although Latinos for the most part share a common language, religious beliefs, cultural heritage, and a strong sense of family, their differences outnumber similarities. The market can be segmented by their country of origin, how long they have been in this country, as well as the size of the Hispanic population in their area.
Ten years ago marketers believed that the Hispanic market went through a cycle of acculturation and by the third generation were assimilated into American purchasing pattern. It was believed that when they arrived in the country, they spoke limited English and lived with extended family or friends.
The next generation might live with their parents but were more Americanized since they had attended school here. By the third generation, the Latinos were fully integrated into American culture.
That is not today's reality. Where Hispanics live can influence their acculturation level. With large numbers of Mexicans in Los Angeles and Cubans in Miami, it is simple for those groups to maintain their own culture rather than assimilate. Why become American if you can continue to be whatever? At the same time, immigrants from Costa Rica or Ecuador living in the same city may follow a more traditional acculturation model.
Who then is the market? Will ads that attract Chicanos in LA be as effective in Miami? Will ads that appeal to Cubans have the same effect on Latinos from other countries?
Since Spanish language is the glue binding the group together, it may be the common denominator for reaching this group. A Nielsen study found that the majority of Spanish households prefer Spanish over English. Nearly all Latinos speak some Spanish at home. Spanish-language commercials are generally more persuasive than the same commercial in English.
However, each of the nearly 20 countries of origin of American Latinos has their own language nuances. Is there one that transcends all Spanish immigrants or is the attempt to communicate in their native tongue sufficient?
As you can see, there are as many questions as answers. What we do know, or think we do, is that Hispanics generally live in multi-generational families. They tend to shop as a family and see it as an outing rather than a chore. Purchasing decisions are made after discussion and consensus-building.
They are loyal to a brand. Becoming their brand of choice when they first arrive will be passed down successive generations like a family recipe. So, reaching this market when they are least like the typical American consumer can pay dividends.

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After 25 years traversing the globe with the petroleum industry, Carrie has recreated herself as a freelance writer, researcher, university lecturer, and anything else that catches her fancy. Reach her at cshearer@twcny.rr.com