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“Spanglish” Speakers

To attract “Spanglish” speakers, you need to appeal, invite, and get close to a younger generation of Latinos who do not necessarily are fully fluent in Spanish but have acquired the emotional vocabulary of their parents’ language.

Speaking Spanglish represents having a dual and hybrid cultural identity. The language itself is a mix of what is relevant in Spanish but does not exist in English or cannot be completely expressed in English.

Aflac and Amateur Spanglish

Aflac

I’m yet to see how “Tu vales por two” resonates with bilinguals because “two” sounds contrived. The Spanish phrase is, “Vales por dos.” Replacing “dos” for “two” does not make this phrase Spanglish. It makes it incorrect in English and in Spanish and for that matter in Spanglish.

This is a good example of amateur Spanglish, non-fluent Spanglish or Spanglish for beginners. For Spanglish to work, it has to be a mix of emotionally-charged words in Spanish that are commonly known among Spanish speakers which do not translate in well English or words that were first learned in English and never learned in Spanish because they are too long or impractical.

Spanglish is an “insiders” language that is learned through socialization and mingling with other Spanglish-speakers. Spanglish is spoken among a subculture of in-group members who grew up speaking Spanish and English simultaneously.

Cross Cultural Marketing and Communications Association (CCMCA)

-The CCMCA Promises to Mainstream Us All-

Map of the United States of America showing th...

Map of the United States of America showing the largest minority group by color in each state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Mari D. González ​

I am pleased to learn that there is a newly formed national professional organization that addresses cross-cultural understanding in marketing –The Cross Cultural Marketing and Communications Association (CCMCA). This organization will facilitate and expand a much-needed cross-cultural perspective in the U.S. Thus, the idea that there is a dominant culture to which everyone should adhere is beginning to lose popularity. This acknowledgment informs us that the exponential growth of U.S. micro cultures, or so- called minority groups, can no longer be ignored.

In the last few decades, the conversation on ethnic marketing has paid a lot of attention to Hispanics. At the beginning of 2013, driven by census results in population growth of Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos and by a larger display of political power from those emerging groups, we began to hear less about Hispanic marketing and more about multicultural marketing.

Nevertheless, the term multicultural had already lost its distinctive meaning because it has been overused. “Multicultural” became the kind of I-feel-good-using-it-but-do-not-know-what-it-really-means expression. It lost meaning because many people used it thoughtlessly. Most people do not dare to learn about the culturally different unless they live in Oakland, CA, where there is greater diversity and they are likelier to make friends with people of other ethnicities.

On the other hand, cross-cultural, which means looking at similarities and differences, places social groups on a level playing field. Cross-cultural communication promises to see groups without any hierarchy, to cross over and even get closer to another cultural group. In cross-cultural communication, we learn by looking at how these cultural groups see themselves as opposed to how they have been perceived by the macro or dominant culture, which in this case, would be considered top-cultural instead of cross-cultural.

As a professional interculturalist who has done cross-cultural analysis in marketing, I could not be more delighted that a nation-wide professional marketing organization now exists and has the potential to address domestic, as opposed to international, issues related to culture in marketing and communications. This is an internal, inside the country, analysis of the relevance that the many ethnicities and social groups have in this country instead of, for instance, looking at the Chinese or the European markets.

Hispanic Marketing – Segmenting Latinos

market 1

market 1 (Photo credit: tim caynes)

By Mari D. González

Last year, I was approached by Lee Raymundo, MBA candidate at UCLA. He asked for an interview. He wrote:

“I read your article ‘Marketing to Second-Generation Latinos’ with
great interest and believe your insight would be of great value to me. I have
been trying to understand the behavior and culture of second generation Latinos vs. first generation and what ideals would most likely appeal to them. I understand that Bud Light is especially popular with this segment but have so far, struggled to understand why.”

He explained that his team was working with Budweiser, “on understanding the most effective way to reach the Latino community with a brand that resonates with this segment.” So, we addressed his questions. I gave him a general overview on the language preferences for first- and second-generation Latinos/Hispanics, which are basically related to acculturation.

Based on that particular interview and several other similar conversations, I have concluded that many professionals trying to reach Latinos/Hispanics assume that Latinos/Hispanics fall into one single market–an assumption that is too general.

“Latino/Hispanic” is a term used in census-taking to track people whose
heritage can be traced to 21 countries in Latin America plus Spain (Europe),
but should not be used—or misused—when marketing to a specific population under this umbrella term.Thus, every time I am asked to talk about Latinos/Hispanics, I always reply with the same question, “Which segment of Latinos/Hispanics?

Most people do not understand the huge cultural, socioeconomic, and generational differences among Latinos aside from their country of origin, language of preference, and acculturation levels. Language is of utmost importance. Yet, it should not be understood simply as English vs.Spanish, but how well the target group speaks either language and how extensive is their vocabulary in either one.

Other questions include: Has the market segment been schooled and/or received college degrees in Spanish or in English? Do they prefer reading in English but speaking Spanish at home? It might be that English is the language they learned to read and write grammatically, but they prefer the emotional connection associated with the sounds and certain words in Spanish. Our accents and the extent of our vocabulary tell a lot about who we are culturally, where we come from, our education and socioeconomic levels–all of which are important marketing indicators for Hispanic marketing strategic planning.

There is also the “American Latino/Hispanic” layer, which encompasses all Latinos/Hispanics living in the U.S. and can be very subtle. For instance, most first-generation, Spanish-dominant Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. know common English-language terms they use in their daily lives even though their primary language is Spanish at home and work.

Moreover, there are cultural dimensions that second-generation, bilingual and English-dominant Latinos/Hispanics do not give up and that includes collectivismus, we, nosotros. That is the one specific example I gave to Mr. Raymundo. I told him that whatever message he is trying to communicate across the board with Latinos/Hispanics, do not market to them through an individualistic identityme, I, only myself—because that’s crossing into assimilation terrain and an assimilated Latino/Hispanic no longer counts culturally as a Latino/Hispanic.

Hispanic Marketing in Quotes

English: CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Commi...

By Mari D. González

THE PREMISE: “America’s corporations can no longer ignore Hispanic marketing like Mitt Romney did.”

THE RELUCTANCE: “Companies [have failed] to understand the importance of being culturally relevant because they first-and-foremost have their brand’s interests – rather than Hispanic consumer’s cultural values, preferences and passion points – at heart.” Armando Azarloza

THE CHALLENGE:  “Companies are deprived of diversity in leadership, [thus] lack the imagination, creativity, authenticity and innovation to market to today’s fast growing demographic shift.”

AND THE GOOD NEWS:  “Hispanic small businesses are growing at twice the rate of the national average – generating over $350B in annual revenues (that some estimate is closer to $650B).”

Quotes from Forbes’, November 12, 2012, article by Glenn Llopis

Generalizing Hispanics

By Mari D. González

Fast and easy analysis does not always translate into accurate analysis.  The infographic below from CutCue states that “U.S. Hispanics are very proud of their heritage and never forget where they come from.” This might be true for Latinos/Hispanics across generations—more specifically Latinos/Hispanics of Mexican descent who are the majority.

However, the next statement, “They are self reliant and have a negative view about asking for help” relates more to individualistic societies. In general, Latinos/Hispanics regardless of their acculturation level tend to be on the collectivist side. So, my question is—Which segment of Latinos/Hispanics is CutCue talking about?

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Research and Opinions in Hispanic Marketing

By Mari D. González

Below is my response to the post “Why Hispanic Communities Should be the Foundation of Your Hispanic Market Research” by Jose Espinoza:

“Because there is a big difference between research-based information and opinions. Thus, constant research done by in-group professionals is needed. “

Missing the Mark on Culture

English: Black Hispanic and Latino Americans

By Mari D. González

The blog “Are Marketers Missing the Mark?” by Hispanic Market Weekly states that “An attitude-based acculturation model provides a more focused lens for looking at Latinos and capturing the estimated $500 billion in purchasing power held by bicultural Hispanics” based on a report from Culturati Research & Consulting.

Let’s clarify that the largest percentage of bilingual Latinos/Hispanics do not need to acculturate; they enculturate instead.  They acquire the culture in their first years of life through schooling and media in English. Acculturation is for people such as immigrants who move from one society or culture into another.

Ethnic marketing is prone to these wrong and misleading statements. Let’s also clarify that Hispanic marketers are not experts in cross-cultural theories or cultural anthropology and should not be haphazardly using terms that are outside their field or field-specific that they ignore. They need to either learn more about social sciences or leave such studies to the experts because they are “missing the mark.”

Univision Network No. 1 last week

Mari D. González

Does Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language TV network, understand that the largest Latino/Hispanic segment -young and bilingual- want relevance and quality in media?

The emerging young Latinos/Hispanics have been complaining about the lack of quality of programming at Spanish-language TV networks and that the English-language networks neither represents them nor includes them.

With the news that Univision has taken the No. 1 spot on viewership not only among Latinos/Hispanics but across the board, perhaps Univision is finally listening to this powerful market subgroup.