Speaking the Marketing Languages of Latinos

LOS ANGELES Nearly 70 percent of Hispanic adults ages 18-34 are either Spanish-language dominant or bilingual, using Spanish as their primary language at home, according to a study released here on Friday at the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies’ four-day conference.

The study “debunks the myth that young Hispanic adults are basically English dominant,” said Aida Levitan, AAHA’s president. “Until now the industry had been told that only those Hispanics over 35 were consuming Hispanic advertising.”

Levitan praised the “large quantitative sample” of 10,000 Hispanics used by the Simmons Market Research Bureau, commissioned by the AAHA. In the study, 68 percent of the respondents were found to be either Spanish-language dominant or bilingual.

The most surprising conclusion of the study, called “The Youth Market—The Holy Grail of Advertising,” found that young Hispanics consume Spanish and English radio and television media at nearly equal rates to all Hispanic adults, Levitan said. Overall, young Hispanics watch or listen to Spanish broadcasts about 67 percent of the time, about 48 percent during prime time. Though English-language prime time habits are virtually identical, young Hispanics consume six percent more Spanish prime time than the Hispanic adult market in general.

The study also concluded that young Hispanics frequent more store types than the overall youth market, especially drug, office supply and computer stores; that they are one third more style conscious and likely to make impulse purchases, favoring fashion and electronics; that they are “more persuaded” by advertising in Spanish, as well as more brand-loyal to Spanish advertisers; and that they have more trust of, and are more willing to pay full retail for, nationally advertised name brands. They are three times more likely to spend what they have “to look younger” and to trust that “ads give a true picture” of a product or service. The Hispanic youth market is also in play, the study implied, as it found the group open to trying new products and having not developed brand loyalties.

Compared to adults on the whole, Hispanic youth is less likely to buy unknown products; read label information; buy and recycle packages; and buy what their neighbors approve.

“This is a market proud of its heritage, that clings to its language,” said Levitan. “That’s not contradictory to learning or speaking English, but advertising is speaking to the heart. Advertisers should be aware of the emotional and cultural relevance of their messages.”

Levitan, co-chair and CEO of Publicis Sanchez & Levitan, Miami, said her agency sees increasing budgets on Hispanic advertising every year, with brands such as Budweiser and McDonald’s pioneering the trend, and pharmaceuticals, technology, and financial services sectors “very definitely underspending.”