How to connect with Hispanics in a genuine and authentic way

Maria Amor, VP of Havas Formulatin, on how to reach the nation's fastest-growing demographic.

Every year during Hispanic Heritage Month, I see brands launching programs to recognize and honor the 60 million Hispanics living in the U.S.

Having grown up in Mexico and being married to a Mexican, our culture, traditions and values are who I am. Raising two daughters in Miami, it’s very important for us that they know where they come from; what they are made of; and how the passion, fire and flavor of being Latinas will come through in whatever they do.

I’m not alone in this quest to pass down culture. Given that the Hispanic population is expected to grow by 86% in the next 40 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s important that brands understand the nuances of this demographic.

So, this Hispanic Heritage Month, in addition to passing on traditions to my children, I offer these insights for brands looking to connect with Hispanics in a genuine and authentic way.

Family comes first. Growing up, my mother used to say, "El cuero esta antes que la camisa" (skin comes before the shirt), to remind us family comes first. Not surprisingly, Hispanic millennials have stronger family ties than their general market counterparts.

According to Nielsen, Hispanics are the most likely group in the U.S. to live in a multigenerational home. Familia reflects their identity and they tend to operate in a group mentality.

Additionally, 79% of Latinx consumers frequently shop for groceries with someone else, and family members participate in the selection process. While Latinas are the primary decision makers for household spending, they look for brands that meet the needs of their large and diverse families.

Se habla Español and English. Watching my 3-year-old learn two languages is a unique experience. Her perfect pronunciation and ability to switch from English to Spanish without blinking amazes me.

A common reason brands hesitate to launch Hispanic programs is a lack of Spanish-language assets (i.e., website, social media, collateral, etc.) or spokespeople.

But the number of U.S.- born Hispanic increases every year and they grow up bilingual and ambicultural. Language doesn’t limit their purchasing decisions; instead, a lack of cultural acknowledgment holds them back from connecting with brands.

Multicultural marketing needs to evolve from being language-driven to being culture-driven. Brands should ensure there are enough Latinx lifestyle and heritage cues to make consumers look twice.

Sharing is an endorsement. I constantly remind my girls to share — their toys, their snacks, their space. Sharing and engaging are in the DNA of Latinos and that now extends to the digital space.
Latinx consumers regularly share information about products and services. According to Nielsen, 37% agree with the statement "I like to share my opinions about products and services by posting reviews and ratings online."

Recommendations from family and friends are key steps on the path to purchase for Latinx consumers. Latinx are open to new products. But endorsements make it easier for brands to breakthrough.

All Latinos are not all the same. I was raised in Mexico and spent my teenage and young adult years in California, where most Latinos are Mexican. When I moved to the East Coast I experienced the nuances of other Latino sub-cultures firsthand.

It isn’t just language; holidays also vary. Cinco de Mayo and Day of the Dead are relevant to Mexicans, Carnival is celebrated in Brazil, and Columbus Day is bigger among Cubans.
While key passion points such as family, food, music, sports, beauty, etc. are shared, honoring the traditions and language of each country is important.

Marketers must also understand the makeup of the region they are targeting. For example, Los Angeles has the biggest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico City. The Cuban population is concentrated in Florida, and Hondurans are more spread out, with populations in Texas, Florida and California.

Working hard is the only way to work. One of my favorite phrases from radio personality Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo is, "A que venimos a este pais? A triunfar!" which translates to "What did we come to this country for? To succeed!"

This phrase reflects the Latinx mentality. We know we must work hard to succeed. Many un-acculturated Latinos or recent immigrants hold two to three jobs. And that results in $1.5 trillion worth of spending power.

However, Latinx are discerning about where and how they spend. Latinx households are larger, so it is no surprise they spend approximately $10 more on food per visit than their general market counterpart.

But they also overspend in other categories, such as technology, clothing, beauty and sporting goods. Latinx consumers are loyal to brands that understand their needs; therefore, marketers should incorporate cultural cues that convey a genuine interest in Hispanics.
Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a prime opportunity to educate marketers on how to effectively reach the nation’s fastest-growing demographic.

While there are various nuances that comprise the Latino community, this group is among the most welcoming and accepting of brands interested in establishing a genuine connection. After all, we grew up with the notion that mi casa, es su casa.

Maria Amor is vice president of Havas Formulatin, an Hispanic PR agency, and has 15 years’ experience connecting brands with Latino audiences.

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