Debunking 3 Myths About Latino Consumers This Hispanic Heritage Month

There’s much that marketers still don’t understand about this demographic

a man standing with papers floating out of a book into the air
Not only are myths patently untrue, they can also be quite costly.
Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Sources: Getty Images, Unsplash

On the eve of the first Hispanic Heritage Month in 1968, Hispanics made up between 4–6% of the U.S. population. Today, that number is 18%—or nearly 60 million people.

With backgrounds as diverse as America itself, Hispanic Americans are representing us in Congress and in C-suites, in stadiums and on screens, and in larger numbers than ever before.

Despite this demographic’s immense influence on our culture—not to mention its $1.7 trillion in purchasing power—there are a number of misconceptions about how to connect with the Hispanic community. Here are three common myths about marketing to Hispanic Americans.

Hispanic viewers spend less than other demographics

One of the biggest misconceptions is that Hispanic viewers spend less money than other demographics. In reality, data suggests the opposite is often true.

A study of 4.4 million Comcast households revealed that Hispanic homes are outspending average American households in a number of key areas, with Spanish-language viewers spending even more.

For example, last year the average Comcast household spent $983 on technology, while Hispanic households and Spanish-language viewers spent $1,033 and $1,065 respectively. The data paints a clear picture: Hispanic and Spanish-language viewers have the power of the purse, and they’re not afraid to use it.

If marketers want to make an impact, they need to think multilingual, investing ad dollars in Spanish-language platforms.

They also have the power of the pen—or more appropriately, the keyboard. Hispanic millennials are more likely to use social media and more likely to discuss brands on it. Approximately half of Hispanic millennials have used a brand hashtag or talked about a brand online while only 17% of their non-Hispanic counterparts have done the same. Brands that take this purchasing and social power seriously will see it translate into sales.

You can reach the entire Hispanic market with your Englishlanguage ad buy

Too many marketers believe they can effectively reach the Hispanic market with English-language ad buys alone. But these brands are losing consumers before even bringing them in.

With 40% of Hispanic consumers only watching Spanish-language television, brands that stick strictly with English-language media leave millions of consumers out of the picture—and millions of dollars on the table.

Marketers shouldn’t expect four in 10 Hispanic consumers to switch over to English-language TV any time soon. According to a 2018 report by Horowitz Research, Spanish-language viewing among Hispanics has remained steady over the past five years. At the same time, a study by Magna Global found that language-targeted advertising can double purchase intent for Hispanic viewers. And Nielsen reported that Spanish-language ads generate double the likeability of their English-language counterparts as well as higher ad, brand and message memorability.

Spanish-language viewers are sending a message loud and clear: If marketers want to make an impact, they need to think multilingual, investing ad dollars in Spanish-language platforms.

Cultural relevance is nonessential

Running Spanish-language ads on the right platform is necessary for reaching Hispanic audiences, but there is more to the equation. Capturing and captivating audiences takes the right spot and the right story.

Across the Hispanic community—across our entire country—there is a demand for authentic, inclusive, relevant stories. Episodes of La Reina del Sur bring people to the edge of their seats and soccer matches lift them to their feet. La Voz contestants inspire shower singers to take the mic, and Superstore characters invite laughter and tears, sometimes in the same episode.

The most successful brands aren’t just translating English ads into Spanish: They’re taking advantage of these big moments on screen and crafting stories that meet people where they are. Research found that this kind of cultural targeting—that is, pairing ads that reflect Hispanic culture with content that reflects Hispanic culture—increases brand favorability and deepens the connection between brands and consumers.

And just this month, a new resource called the Cultural Insights Impact Measure (CIIM), released by the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), reaffirmed that realistic creative drives real results. CIIM found that culturally relevant advertising more than doubles brand relevancy, word of mouth and product purchase intent and triples ad relevancy.

Our collective understanding and appreciation of Hispanic culture has only increased since the first Hispanic Heritage Month a half century ago. And for marketers, the work has just begun. Let’s debunk costly myths once and for all and commit to embracing and engaging Hispanic consumers year-round.

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