By Juan Tornoe
Oftentimes people mistake Hispanic marketing for Spanish marketing.
Even though the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, there is at least 36% of the Latino market that is English-dominant (14% of the Hispanic market only speak English); more than 1 in 3 Hispanics live in English. There is another 10% of the market that is fully bilingual and there is at lease another 32% who even thought they speak mostly Spanish they do understand some English. All these numbers leave us with only 22% of Hispanics who don’t know any English whatsoever.
On top of that, the main source of growth of the Latino market, since last decade, comes from U.S. born individuals, who will grow up in this country, attend our public schools, and be proficient in English by the time themselves become consumers and/or they influence the buying habits of their parents.
Bottom line, if your Hispanic marketing is only in Spanish, you are not reaching all Hispanics. Short example: At home, my family and I, only speak Spanish, yet except for the Soccer World Cup every 4 years, you will not and cannot reach us using any Spanish language media, traditional or new, online or offline, local or national. Every single bit of media we consume is in English.
So, how do you reach all those Latinos who are unreachable by the use of Spanish media, be it like my family of like many others who simply don’t speak Spanish, but still retain the heritage and cultural traditions of Hispanics?
The short answer is by piggy-backing your Latino messaging onto your general market ad budget. For this action, a while back I coined the phrase “Lonely-Boying”, after Los Lonely Boys and their 2003 hit song “Heaven”. The song was a HUGE hit all across America, but it is a little known fact – among the general market – that there are two lines from its chorus that are completely in Spanish. For the average American, Heaven was a great song but for a Latino, it not only was that but it instantly generated a deeper emotional connection with Los Lonely Boys because of the short Spanish language phrase intertwined into the song. Even if the Hispanic didn’t know a word of Spanish, they could recognize that the group was singing in “abuelita’s” language! Those few words generated a deeper connection because they were a brief but powerful acknowledgement of the dual reality – culturally and language wise – that Latinos live in America. Even if unconsciously, the Hispanic listener feels that Los Lonely Boys “gets them”.
We have been talking music up until know, but how to we transfer the concept of Lonely-Boying into marketing and advertising? It is by reaching the Latino market through short, yet powerful, tidbits within your general market outreach efforts that connect in a deeper emotional level with Hispanics and most likely will pass unnoticed by those exposed to it from the general market. Lonely-Boying can be done in any creative execution: radio, TV, newspaper, billboards, direct mail, email marketing, online banners, social media, etc.
Its effect can be accomplished through sounds, written or spoken words, images, melodies, or colors, all of which immediately generate an emotional reaction from Hispanics – no matter their language preference – but are completely irrelevant or simply overlooked by everyone else.
Funny thing, I had been using this technique for several years when last November I ran into an article on The Daily Pennsylvanian where they quoted Americus Reed, PhD, Identity Theorist, and marketing professor from Wharton School of Business, talking on the same subject:
“Consumers who identify with different ethnic groups perceive ads — and life — differently. Marketers who try to speak to ‘both selves’ using cultural symbols can lower the value of an ad; you can’t overtly try to appeal to both cultures. For an ad to appeal to bicultural consumers successfully, a ‘complementary synergy’ has to be created. Instead of having everything shouting at you at once, one of the dimensions has to be more subtle.”
You can either quote the ad guy or the PhD, but to reach out to the growing, diverse and ever-more-complex Latino market you must not limit yourself and your business to only talk to them in Spanish using Spanish language media; you must sprinkle your general market ads with some Hispanic flare.
Originally published on Abasto magazine