As a media publisher serving the US Spanish-speaking community, I often hear from advertisers looking to better reach, or start reaching, the Hispanic market. Motivated by the American Latino purchasing power in excess of 1.3 trillion dollars, many attempt to do this by simply translating their English campaigns, but, as I've found, it nearly always requires more than that; it requires a true understanding of this community.
From my experience, I have observed certain keys that help companies succeed in marketing to the Grassroots Hispanic community. Though consistently overlooked, these keys are essential to the success of Hispanic marketing campaigns. They've helped men like Enrique Gonzalez (once undocumented), who was picking cotton and tomatoes across the border just a few years ago, overcome bureaucratic hurdles to import Hispanic-recognized products at affordable prices and expand his one Vallarta Supermarket to more than 25 California locations.
They are the same principles that have enabled Eric Castelblanco, a man who did not endure the drama of the Mexico-US border, understand the plight of undocumented and unprotected immigrants that are facing eviction. Taking this knowledge, he has become the legal champion of Hispanics with a well respected firm in Beverly Hills.
These insights also helped Francisco Salinas, along with his brothers, use their knowledge of the Hispanic demographic to successfully open three Salinas Tires locations in Spanish-dominant parts of Whittier Boulevard in Los Angeles. Their success can be attributed to providing exceptional customer experience down to every minor detail. This includes answering the phone in Spanish, which immediately gives their customers a sense of confidence and security.
The following principles are how these businesses, along with many others, have been successful in targeting the American Latino community:
1. Understand Latino cultures. Many US Grassroots Latinos are first generation and still closely connected with the culture and heritage of their native countries. Identifying and celebrating their culture helps associate your business with a familiar and comfortable environment.
2. Respect their Family values. Grassroots Hispanics have an extremely close connection with their families and many generations will often live under one roof. Respecting these values and taking a family-centered approach to your business, will be more successful than a company that only caters to a single member of the family.
3. Look for them on phones and tablets. As many have finally realized, Hispanics are a tech-savvy community. Much of their internet access comes from mobile devices as they skipped the age of the desktop. Within our own properties we've seen increased mobile tech adoption particularly with smartphones for Hispanic Millennials and tablets for Latino adults. This increased access has also led to a strong presence on social networks and an increase in online video consumption.
4. Use Spanish language content. With first generation Latinos, Spanish is likely their first language. Advertisements in Spanish that drive ad response to a phone call that is answered in English creates a negative experience. This disconnect in language causes a disconnect in the experience that person has with your company. We have also learned that automated answering services, Spanish or English are not a welcoming introduction to your business.
5. Loyalty to a brand. There are few population groups as loyal to their brands as Hispanics. Having strong brand values will be hugely beneficial to your business. However, to maintain this loyalty, you need to continue to provide them with true value, maintain the quality, and connect with them culturally.
These five simple principles, when applied to any business, lead to continued Hispanic marketing success. From American born entrepreneurs to immigrants who crossed the border in search of a better life. From those born with silver spoons to those starting with little or nothing. From big corporate companies, to small start-ups, these principles really can be applied to any business model in any industry. One thing is for certain, companies that are not employing these strategies have, and are, missing out on their Hispanic market share.
This article is part of ICIC's Icons of Industry Growth series, highlighting the fastest-growing businesses located in America's inner cities. Small business owners are invited to join these successful entrepreneurs in Boston on October 15-16th at the Inner City 100 Symposium, a premier management education and networking event featuring leading CEOs and Harvard Business School faculty. Learn more here.
ICIC is the national outreach and selection partner for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.