10 Things Every U.S. Business Needs to Know About the Latino Market

Did you know that Hispanics in the United States have an estimated $1.4 trillion in purchasing power? That’s larger than the GDP of Spain and Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in the United States is projected to reach 119 million by 2060. Brands and businesses know that Latinos are one of the driving forces in the U.S. economy, yet many are still missing the mark when trying to court this powerful and influential segment of the population. The mass adoption of technology amongst Latinos has opened a door for marketers to reel in the Latino market.

But what makes this market so difficult to catch for some brands? Here are 10 insights into the Latino market that every business needs to know if they want to have an effective Latino strategy.

1. Merely translating content doesn’t work

Translating content can become quite tricky when trying to reach the Latino market. It is difficult in the sense that not all Latinos utilize the same generics terms or phrases. For example, words in the Mexican culture may have a different meaning than in the Cuban culture. A tortilla in Mexico is a corn or flour flatbread whereas in Cuba a tortilla is a type of omelet. When translating content, one must be mindful of the structure of sentences in Spanish and English. Metaphors can’t be easily translated from English to Spanish, therefore can be misinterpreted by Latino consumers and your message is lost. Translating content is not enough. Content needs to be adapted and MUST have cultural fluency.

2. Within the Latino identity, there are many cultural contexts

There are many things that make up the Latino culture. We like spending time with our families and friends, sharing stories and laughing with each other. We are a community, we share responsibilities and keep one another accountable. Faith and church also play a major role for many in the Latino culture. Hispanic social norms emphasize the importance of communication (verbal and nonverbal) in interpersonal relationships, according to the CDC. Make a connection with the Latino community, share their values in your message and engage them in your business.

3. If you’re marketing to U.S. Latinos, you don’t necessarily need to do it Spanish

Nearly 86 percent of native-born Latinos mostly or only use English when engaging with social media, according to the Pew Research Center. It is the language most commonly used on Facebook and Twitter by Hispanics. The older generations of Latinos use mainly Spanish but have learned to understand and speak English because their children, Hispanic-Americans, speak the language and they need it to communicate. Spanglish, a hybrid language combining English and Spanish words, is prevalent among Hispanics. This means you can definitely create content using English, just make sure it is relevant to the Hispanic culture.

4. You are using the wrong channels

You have to ask yourself where are U.S. Latinos spending their time on social media? 84 percent of U.S. Latinos are mostly active on Facebook and Twitter (Pew Research), but that does not mean we should discard traditional practices. 57 percent of Latina moms claimed to read emails that brands sent them and 33 percent learn more about products and brands through online publicity, according to Target Latino. In other words, Latinos are already looking out for products and brands of their preference, you just have to be using the right channels to reach them.

5. You are sending the wrong messages

Hispanics are visual learners and trust word-of-mouth. They spend 2.7 more hours per day watching videos compared to 2.1 hours for non-Hispanics, according to Ad Age. Hispanic millennials and Gen Zers are the driving force of technology adoption in their demographic. They have switched from Spanish to English content and want to be a part of the next big thing. It’s not enough to just use print articles, your business needs digital content, especially video, to go viral because Latinos are watching.

6. You’re missing the generational shift that is happening from Hispanic millennials (Hispennials) to Gen Z Hispanics (LatinoZ)

If you think that Hispanic millennials are the same as Gen Z Hispanics, you are completely mistaken. Generation Z Hispanics have the largest percentage of millennial parents, making them the largest generational cohort in the U.S. They are independent workers, money cautious and need instagratification. They are the most ethnically diverse population, all this according to Sensis, an integrated cross-cultural advertising agency. However, even though Hispanic millennials have incorporated American values, they still maintain close ties with their heritage and have a sense of duty to their families and communities. They have paved the way for Gen Z Hispanics to become their own persons. Gen Zers have taken over technology and seek digital entertainment. Businesses cannot afford to view Gen Z Hispanics as consumers of the future but rather as the consumers of today.

7. You’re overplaying or pandering to cultural norms

Actress Dascha Polanco said it best, “Market to Latinos based on their needs, not where they are from.” Don’t pander to us with tacos, piñatas, and “Yo Quiero Taco Bell.” With the generational shift, Gen Z Hispanics have different views that their parents and don’t always share the cultural ties Hispanic millennials have with their heritage. Not every Hispanic group is alike. Grouping Latinos in a specific set of cultural norms can lead to stereotyping which will negatively affect your business and damage your credibility.

8. Latinos have the highest percentage of mobile use

If you look all around, many people are on their mobile devices whether it be at work, on the bus or even at a restaurant. Most Latinos access the internet through their mobile devices. Almost 66 percent of Latinos watch online videos on smartphones each month, according to Ad Age. Hispanics are adopting smartphones at a higher rate than any other demographic group: nearly three in four Latinos own smartphones, according to Nielsen. The average Latino spends more than eight hours watching online videos each month. Businesses need to produce content that is optimized for mobile if they seek to get our attention.

9. Marketing to U.S. Latinos is different than marketing to people in Latin America

U.S. Latinos have different lifestyles to the ones they had in Latin America, especially their children. Businesses and brands have had to localize their product or service to customer needs in order to expand their reach across the Latin American market.

U.S. businesses have a variety of options and ways to market their products to consumers with minimal government intervention. In the U.S., Latinos have acculturated to the American economy and have different opportunities to grow.  In Latin America, there can be limited options to gain media coverage, even though that is changing through the use of social media and live video.

10. View Hispanics as people, not statistics

We are not just another demographic to conquer, we are people, first and foremost. Hispanics are more inclined to build trustworthy relationships with people and companies that take the time to understand who we are and what we represent morally, ethically and culturally, according to a Forbes article. Hispanics are all about relationship, therefore if your business wants to be part of our family, it should strive to connect with Latino consumers and let them know that their voice matters.


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