From the rescindment of DACA and discussions about race inequality to the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act, 2017 has raised issues that have heightened focus on how brands should engage the Hispanic consumer.
Hispanics, one of the nation’s largest ethnic groups representing $1.5 trillion in annual purchasing power, are recognized as an important growth community across almost every U.S. industry. According to Nielsen’s report, From the Ballot Box to the Grocery Store, "50% of U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2015 has come from Hispanics, and the U.S. Census expects the U.S. Latino population to more than double within the next two generations."
Amid today’s political climate, multicultural, reputation, and public affairs teams – among others – are asking themselves the following questions: Should we pledge to stand with Dreamers? Are we doing enough from a diversity and inclusion standpoint? Is a Hispanic Heritage Month initiative necessary? Will our audience get upset if we make a cultural nod to Hispanics in our campaign?
The answer to these questions rests in the brand’s current and potential consumer base and in its history of investing in the Hispanic community. Only after taking a close look at these considerations can a brand determine what the opportunities are for investing in the Hispanic segment.
Despite the sensitivities of Hispanic communications, this influential and economically powerful segment continues to be an important audience, and brands are showing their commitment in different ways. Here are some of the top trends we’ve seen this year that we believe will carry over into 2018:
Brands get political
Brands such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, and PepsiCo have signed the open letter on Dreamers.FWD.us that calls on entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country to pledge to stand with Dreamers. Beyond signing the petition, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam wrote his own open letter to Congress and posted it on his LinkedIn profile. More than 800 companies have signed the letter calling on Congress to protect Dreamers from deportation.
Products celebrate Latino culture
Startups and Fortune 500 companies alike are creating products and limited collections that celebrate Latino culture. Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, Nike introduced a limited collection of sneakers showcasing cultural expressions from Latin American artists’ heritage. Another example is Canticos, featuring some of the most beloved nursery rhymes and songs from all over the Spanish-speaking world brought to life in physical books and digital activations created by cofounders Susie Jaramillo and former head of multicultural strategy for Twitter, Nuria Santamaria Wolfe. Canticos will be carried at Target and distributed in Burt’s Bees baby boxes starting October.
Investment grows for education
According to our Latina SmartPurse study, education is among the top three priorities for Latina moms and their children. For many years, our client McDonald’s has been committed to closing the education gap for Hispanic students in the U.S. This year, McDonald’s will award five $100,000 HACER national scholarships and present the USHLI Student Leadership Summit in 11 U.S. cities, including a new workshop in New York, to benefit nonprofit and federal organizations that work primarily with underserved Hispanic students. The workshops feature speakers from CoolSpeak, who motivate students to pursue a higher education through their own personal life experiences and thought-provoking insights.
Understanding that cultural nuances exist across Hispanic markets in the U.S., brands are taking a hyperlocal communications approach by tailoring their efforts by market. Hyperlocal initiatives range from in-store events with local Latino influencers that drive foot traffic and ultimately sales to media appointments with local Hispanic reporters about a relevant community topic. Delta Dental adopted a hyperlocal focus for its Hispanic dental wellness and education initiative that taught proper dental hygiene to children through the cultural tradition and legend of Ratoncito Pérez, the Hispanic tooth fairy. The brand worked with its local teams in South Florida, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas to identify communities where they could appeal to Latino parents and their children.
Social listening drives advocacy
Brands are taking to social media to listen to top Hispanic influencers and consumers across the country. With more than 35 million Hispanics on Facebook, social media represents a large opportunity for organic brand play. For example, McDonald's listens to Hispanic consumers who mention the words "fries," "McDonald's," or "hamburger" in Spanish and gifts consumers accordingly, driving traffic in-store. In addition, the brand listens to top Hispanic social media influencers and gifts them at special moments, like birthdays, baby showers, and Mother’s Day.
Now is the moment for brands to be loud and show their commitment to the Latino community. And being loud doesn’t necessarily denote taking a political stance, it means continuing to develop long-and short-term strategies that drive the business. As brands look to continue to win market share of the $1.5 trillion Hispanic market, they need to consider how they are going to invest in this segment and develop a stronger voice today and into 2018.
Natalie Boden is founder and president of Boden.