10 Trends in Marketing to Latinos

The Republican Party isn’t the only organization with a growing interest in the Hispanic market. Most companies have intensified their focus on this increasingly influential segment, ranging from early adopter brands to those now playing catch-up. The Advertising Research Foundation spotlighted this hot topic by hosting multiple Hispanic market panels at their Re:think conference this week in New York.

As Ramon Pineda, SVP and general manager at Univision said, “The U.S. Hispanic market is in our backyard and you don’t have to travel to sell it. There are no issues with tariffs, imports or other regulations” that one encounters overseas. He cited the following stats and trends:

1. Population growth: The U.S. Hispanic population has grown from 9.1 million in 1970 to 54.6 million now, increasing from less than 5% of the U.S. population to 17% in that timeframe.

2. More barometers now measure Hispanic influence: , Pineda said, “In order for the Hispanic market to be perceived as valuable we needed empirical data, otherwise it was as if we didn’t exist”. Hispanic spending power in the U.S. has increased from less than $500 billion in 2000 to $1.2 trillion in 2012.

3. Expansion beyond the usual cities: The biggest U.S. Hispanic markets are intuitive, namely Los Angeles, New York, Miami and parts of Texas and Arizona. Now other cities are also notable, including Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Raleigh and Detroit (the singer Rodriguez’s hometown). Suburbanization is also becoming more prevalent.

4. Not a homogenous market: Pineda cautioned that the U.S. Hispanic market isn’t one-dimensional. Latinos come from a variety of countries and income groups.

ESPN is another TV network with a great interest in the Hispanic market, since their Deportes channel features Spanish language sports content. ESPN conducted extensive research into the channel’s key audience: Hispanic men living in the U.S. who transcend both cultures. Their research involved video interviews with this target in six U.S. markets, and members of ESPN’s research group reported the following findings:

5. Blending and switching: This group changes back and forth, adapting to both cultures depending who they’re interacting with. One respondent commented, “We’re in the U.S. but we get to keep our culture.” They watch both ESPN English and Spanish language channels.

6. Highly social: They’re highly active on several social networks and like to stay connected with family and friends. Digital video is one of their favorite platforms.

7. Brand advocates: They’re receptive to ads in both languages and also tend to pass along ads to others they know.

8. Avid sports fans: They also use sports to stay connected, with preferences ranging from soccer to baseball (including the World Baseball Classic) to documentary style programming.

Hispanics also influence many aspects of the lives of non-Hispanics who live nearby, according to research and agency executives. Max Kilger, chief behavioral scientist at Experian Simmons, said cultural diffusion, or two cultures living in close proximity, is a two-way process. His company conducted a large-scale quantitative study of 48,000 respondents and partnered on the project with Wing, a Grey-owned agency specializing in the Hispanic market. Here’s an overview:

9. U.S. Latinos influence their non-Latino neighbors: According to Wing’s VP and managing director Andrew Speyer, the findings showed that audience tastes overlap in many areas, including food, sports, music, fashion, health and technology, among others.

10. Hispanic Americanization evolves slowly: However, referring to the flip side of the cultural process, Speyer said some of the agency’s U.S. clients ask, “When will they [Hispanics] just become American?” His answer was “It’s not that easy, and not that soon.”