When it comes to reaching the growing US Hispanic market, there's a new reality settling in.
From the boardroom to the C-suite, companies are starting to wake up to the notion that Latinos are here to stay, that we're big in numbers, that we're brand loyal, and that we have mucho dinero to spend.
Hispanic buying power will reach $1.5 trillion by 2015. This number is thrilling. Think of this: if the US Hispanic community were a world economy, we would be the 14th largest, ahead of Turkey, Australia, and Argentina, to name a few. At a time when we have surpassed the 50 million-plus mark, developing culturally relevant marketing strategies and messaging have become paramount to reaching the coveted Latino consumer.
The truth is that the younger generations of Hispanics, whether born in the US or in Latin America, are prouder than ever to celebrate their heritage. Meaning, they (or better yet, “we”) have become much more comfortable with the concept that as Hispanics we are still Americans, but with a twist, with an extra dose of sabor. An imaginary cultural boundary has been crossed, and we live as comfortably in the general market world as we do in that of our parents and grandparents. This is the new cross-cultural reality.
As a Generation Xer born in the US to Cuban exiles, I'm proud to be a part of the new face of Hispanic America. I was raised on The Flintstones and on ¿Qué Pasa, USA? I'm at home eating picadillo (my favorite) at the legendary Versailles Restaurant in Miami, as I am eating steak at Morton's in Houston. I switch easily from English to Spanish and sometimes Spanglish. I watch and listen to programming on Spanish and English media. I love Shakira as well as U2. I live in two worlds.
Like me, there are millions of us. This dynamic cross-cultural opportunity is starting to catch the attention of media companies and advertisers. One recent example is the exciting announcement by Univision and ABC News that they will launch a dedicated English-language news and information network targeting bilingual Hispanics. Agencies like ours are also fielding calls from a growing number of prospects interested in connecting appropriately in this new cross-cultural world.
This is vastly different from the earlier days of Hispanic marketing – say, 20 years ago, when I was starting out in the business – when many times marketers believed that just translating the English-language messaging to español sufficed.
Today, the course of action is clear: no matter the demographic, you must connect by embracing our culture, from the food we eat, to the music we listen to, to the media we consume in both languages. Doing so will not only earn your brand our loyalty, but will also pay back in dividends for future generations to come.
Jorge Plasencia is chairman and CEO of República, a cross-cultural advertising and communications agency based in Miami.