Successful companies know that having a clear understanding of the relevance and importance of the Latino community is key to making their brands stand out from the rest. As Latinos continue to reshape the American consumer landscape, they are also creating consumer trends while disrupting traditional business models. Given this, it's no surprise that companies have been trying to use all sorts of marketing tools — such as celebrity endorsements — for years to win over Latino consumers. But many brands still end up missing the mark and make mistakes by marginalizing this diverse group of people with blanket messages and stereotypes.
To help make sense of this growing market segment and learn how companies can get it right, here are three ways to engage Latino consumers.
- Incorporate their values and beliefs.
When brands target Hispanic and Latino consumers, they must incorporate their values and beliefs in order to connect with them. The best way for brands to do this is to learn about the heritage of these groups, understand the traditions and be mindful not to generalize the entire group. It is critical to identify what makes the Hispanic and Latino cultures unique. Brands should get familiar with their holidays, food, traditions, music and language. For example, family is an important aspect of life for Latino people. Family members typically stay in close contact and feel an obligation to help each other out in times of need. This means that a person's parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family all play a role in the life of an individual Hispanic person.
The best way for marketers to capitalize on this is to show how their products can benefit not just individuals but entire families. This will resonate more than advertising that only focuses on personal benefits that don't affect others. Parents want what's best for their children and will spend money on products that will make their lives better. In addition to family, religion also plays a big role in their lives, so you should avoid developing any ads that could be considered offensive to those of religious faith.
- Embrace their culture.
To understand the Latino consumer, you have got to understand their culture. The first step in understanding Latino culture is understanding what it means to be Latino. The term "Latino" refers to people whose heritage comes from Latin America and/or the Caribbean. This includes Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish-speaking countries in South America (like Colombia or Venezuela), Central America (like Costa Rica), and the Caribbean (like the Dominican Republic). More often than not, when brands target "Latinos," they are targeting Spanish speakers. For example, if a brand wants to market its products to Spanish speakers in the United States, then it would market its product as one that Latinos would use.
The term "Hispanic" refers to people whose heritage comes from Spain. Although many Hispanic countries speak Spanish, not all of them do. The most common non-Spanish speaking countries with a large Hispanic population include Portugal and Brazil. However, when brands target Hispanics, they usually mean those who are Spanish-speaking, particularly those who live in Spain or those whose families originally come from Spain and now live in the United States.
- Be sure to show empathy.
When it comes to marketing and advertising, brands need to adopt a tone that shows empathy, understanding and ultimately creates a connection between the brand and the consumer. This is particularly true when brands market and advertise to the Latino community in the United States. As you begin working on your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how your messaging will be received by Latinos. This can be accomplished by using words and phrases in your marketing messages that reflect the Latino culture as they would use them.
You will also need to show sincerity and understanding of the culture you're targeting, so don't spend too much time developing a polished image that doesn't represent the people you want to reach. Be authentic with your brand promise. Remember that this is not only about trying to sell something — it's about creating a connection between your brand and your consumers that will help you build trust and loyalty over time.
Latinos in the United States are not a homogenous group. They're made up of diverse people who trace their origins to more than 20 countries. Yet marketers often treat them as a single entity, using outdated stereotypes and generalizations to create campaigns that don't resonate with consumers. It's time for marketers to take a fresh look at the Latino population in the United States and consider how best to reach and engage them. Latinos are driving U.S. population growth and economic expansion, as well as transforming industries and communities across the country. It's an opportune time for brands to start listening to Latino consumers, understand their needs, and be part of the conversations they're having online, offline, and on the go.