Connecting With The Hispanic Market Through Language & Culture

Corporate America has awakened to the monumental importance of the Hispanic consumer and their growing purchasing power, which by end of this year is estimated to reach between $1-$1.5 trillion dollars. Companies are realizing this is a market that can’t be ignored and that if they don’t act now the chance to capture it may be lost. Those who’ve succeeded, went well beyond simply translating English copy into their native language on their website and marketing collateral. These companies expanded their strategy from merely targeting the Hispanic consumer to exploring the cultural characteristics and values that would drive them to trust their brand.

Cultural Intelligence Is Key

Hiring native Spanish speakers is a strategic move some have made to provide an authentic element to a brand especially when that brand deals with customers on a one-on-one basis. Additionally, native speakers provide valuable insight and cultural intelligence that can make the difference in connecting with an ethnic market.  That’s not to say you need to be of a specific heritage to sell to a specific audience – you just need to invest the time to learn about it.  The key to marketing and connecting with the Hispanic market is to communicate with it at their level and within their communities. Marketing hyper-local is a strategy that has served many companies such as McDonald’s & T-Mobile well and they have the profits to prove it.

Many marketers consider “hyper local” marketing, which essentially means to engage individuals or groups where they reside and shop and providing them with an experience, to be critical to successfully tapping into this market.  T-Mobile, for example utilized such a strategy when they launched new products and open new stores just a few years ago. During the launch of their upgrade program, JUMP!, T-Mobile employed hyper local campaigns to engage customers through social media and with street teams that guided customers to their web and retail store locations.

It’s clear by the example of corporations who have targeted the Hispanic market that cultural intelligence has played a key role in their success and that “speaking their language” must extend far beyond literally speaking their language.  Frank Silverstein, producer of MSNBC’s “Your Business”, noted that, “While it is tempting to think there might be a 10-step playbook for Hispanic marketing, it’s just not so.” There are still many businesses and general market advertising agencies that lack this cultural intelligence and as such, they struggle to earn the loyalty and trust from the Hispanic consumer base.  Remarkably, very few brands have defined and consistently supported a strong enough brand message that speaks specifically to their Hispanic consumers.  However, once the effort is made to include the vital cultural ingredients to truly connect a brand with Hispanic consumers more acceptance and ultimate ROI would be the net result.

Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.