Targeting Billennials? Target Elders Too.

An important lesson in Hispanic family dynamics for media people.

This article is part of an ongoing Media Life series entitled "Catching the next big wave: Hispanic advertising." You can read previous stories by clicking here.

"With Latinos, talk to the man -- but sell to his wife," a used car dealer in Houston once told me in the early 1990s.

Spitting out a wad of chewing tobacco, he added, "She's the one calling the shots."

Despite the underlying sexism in the guy's advice, I recognized an element of truth. Decision-making is often a collective effort, even if one party believes it owns the process.

In Hispanic marketing, the same line of thinking can apply to age demographics.

Most of the attention goes to younger Latino consumers -- particularly those bilingual Millennials whom Univision has dubbed "billennials" -- but smart marketers know there's value in addressing older folks, who hold huge sway over purchasing decisions.

This month Nielsen released its latest Hispanic consumer report, The New American Vanguard, Latinos 50+: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, which spotlights the growing economic power of Boomer and Greatest Generation Latinos.

In 2015 they represent a tenth of their age cohort and will grow to 24 percent, or 42 million people, by 2060.

Among the key findings:

  • Life expectancy for U.S. Latinos right now is 83.5 years versus 78.7 for non-Hispanic whites.

  • Multigenerational living arrangements are the norm for only 20 percent of the total population 55+ but for 40 percent of Hispanics in that age group.
  • Significant advantages in childcare, nourishment, travel and shopping come from communal living, including more free cash and more shared family experiences, including meals, plus more distinct TV viewing and purchasing behavior.
  • Communal living leads to shared purchasing decisions, spearheaded by the older generations.
  • So, what does the Nielsen study mean for media buyers and planners?

    This report can service as a catalyst for addressing with clients a key cultural difference between the Hispanic and general markets.

    If younger Latinos are more likely to live in a multigenerational household, then it's obvious buying decisions are going to be made differently than for the total U.S. target.

    Most Hispanic media buys target adults age 18 to no older than 49. More plans should consider targeting 25-54, 18-54, or at least using 55+ as a secondary or tertiary demo.

    The U.S. Army is an example of an account that understands the familial decision-making dynamic in Hispanic households.

    Through its ad agencies, Interpublic Group's Casanova Pendrill (planning) and independent shop d expósito & Partners (buying), the Army creates distinct media plans: one for males 18-24, called "Prospects," and another for persons 35-54, or "Influencers." Separate creative may be tailored for each campaign.

    Another example could be in the automotive category.

    If a certain model plans to reach 18-34s in the general market due to the car's price point and features, the manufacturer would be wise in the Hispanic market to use 35+ as a secondary demo to ensure it's reaching parents and grandparents, who likely will be consulted by the younger consumers before making such a large purchase.

    Latinos often respect and honor their elders to a greater degree than the overall population -- it's a cultural thing.

    To paraphrase the used car dealer in Texas, for savvy marketing to Hispanics, "Speak to the Billennial -- but sell to the Boomer."

    Court Stroud is a writer and a longtime media executive who has worked for companies such as Univisión, Telemundo and several digital startups. He most recently served as Azteca América's EVP of network sales and digital. Stroud holds degrees from UT-Austin and the Harvard Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @CourtStroudNYC