Brands can be better Latiné allies by embracing what matters to us

In their efforts to avoid controversy, brands are ignoring issues that Latinés care about.

Marina Filippelli is Orci's CEO.

Hispanic Heritage Month has come and gone, which means that brands that waved an “I see you” branch at Latiné consumers have either cut back or stepped back on their efforts to communicate with this diverse, fast-growing community.

Simply put, it’s a flat-out miss. We deserve your attention — your energy and your ad dollars — 12 months out of the year.

Big brands do not pay enough attention to Latiné consumers. Most still view multicultural marketing as an add-on, and intentionally or not, are less likely to get involved with Latiné causes or to demonstrate tangible support for this growing community. 

Many issues that are seen as “Hispanic issues,” such as the border crisis or discrimination against our community, are seen as too political, and therefore uncomfortable territory for brands. (Not to mention, the Hispanic community is not a monolith and we don’t all support the same issues. But that is a story for another day.)

In their efforts to avoid controversy, brands are ignoring issues that Latinés care about – and as a result, they’re failing to build a strong emotional connection with a diverse group that could drive their future growth. 

Hispanics accounted for more than half of U.S. population growth in 2020. By 2023, the U.S. Latiné population could reach $2.3 trillion — higher than the GDP of both Spain and Mexico. Marketers literally can’t afford to ignore this demographic without leaving money on the table. 

But Latiné consumers, especially young ones, are looking for brands that show up for them in meaningful ways. 

All consumers, including Hispanics, are looking for action combined with words, not lip service. We want brands to be proactively inclusive and take real stances. We want them to not overlook the issues which impact us every day, such as voters' rights, student debt, racially-motivated violence or intersectional causes like LGBTQ+ rights. 

The good news is, brands can work towards real allyship by putting in the time and effort. Get to know us. Engage with us and listen. Embrace what matters to us.

If you’re not sure where to start, or are fearful of tackling a “hot topic” like immigration, here are two solid ideas you can act on.

Generational wealth

Parental wealth creates advantages for children, enabling them to pay for college or even their first down payment. Generational wealth affords kids a head start. Hispanics and Blacks face significant persistent wealth gaps that disproportionately impact younger generations and create a cycle which can be challenging to break. Hispanic wealth is on the rise, but the median household wealth is just one-fifth of that of non-Hispanic white households. 

More than 12% of Hispanic immigrant workers are self-employed, making them 30% percent more likely to have their own business than the general population. Hispanic-owned businesses are growing at a faster rate than others, but traditionally have far less access to capital and are more likely to be turned down by banks for loans.

Consider supporting younger Latinés as they seek to build financial security they can pass onto future generations — perhaps by offering entrepreneurial support. 

Mental health

Burnout is real, and younger generations are more vocal about taking care of themselves. However, the Latiné community has traditionally struggled with stigma related to mental health due to cultural concepts like machismo and insufficient understanding as to why it’s important. Therapy can be expensive and may be seen as a luxury. 

Fortunately, younger Latinés are changing this. There is a movement underway largely on social media aiming to process our generational trauma of feeling that as Latinés, we must suck it up and do the work without complaining or taking care of ourselves. There’s plenty of room for brands to support this movement by providing resources and education and amplifying the voices making change. 

I offer these two ideas as a start for brands to connect and support their Latiné consumers in many ways that are important to them. 

Marina Filippelli is CEO at Orci.

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