Reaching Latino Consumers Means Thinking Beyond Celebrities and Stereotypes

This diverse market has roots that zigzag across the globe

A hand reaching out to grab a person whose face is a lightbulb behind a group of lightbulbs for faces.
The Latinx community now makes up the largest ethnic market in the U.S., representing $1.5 trillion in buying power. Getty Images
Headshot of Danny Hernandez

In the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were announced as the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show performers. While the selection of two incredible Latinx musicians is certainly worth celebrating, these celebrities only represent one piece of a larger, more diverse, picture of Latinx heritage that is seldom depicted in advertising and pop culture.

But marketers can’t afford to get this wrong. The Latinx community now makes up the largest ethnic market in the U.S., representing $1.5 trillion in buying power. This figure increased by $500 billion from 2010 to 2018 and is estimated to gain another $400 billion by 2023.

So how can marketers connect to this enormous community?

Uncover what Latinx really means

One of the biggest issues I see in advertising targeting Latinx audiences is the one-dimensional portrayal of us in commercials, film and media. Marketers need to look beyond celebrities and stereotypes to understand and project a more authentic picture.

When you think of a famous Latinx, for example, who do you think of? Jennifer Lopez? Ricky Martin? These celebrities are undoubtedly beautiful and talented (and truly the loves of my life), but the reality is that the Latinx community is rich in intersectionality and diversity.

Latinx people can trace their roots back to Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia—in short, the majority of the world. Our identity incorporates an intricate history of many racial groups living together. We are black, white, indigenous and Asian.

Grow your pipeline of celebrities

Sadly, I cannot think of many television commercials starring a Spanish-speaking Afro-Latinx or indigenous actor. But there’s no shortage of talent in this space. Think actress Yalitza Aparicio, who debuted in Roma last year, or actor Jharrel Jerome, who recently became the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy.

Marketers need to commit to truly diversifying casting if they want to reach the Latinx community. If a brand is working on a commercial geared toward a Latinx audience, it must cast a wider range of Latinx actors instead of relying on light-skin archetypes. To do this successfully, brands will likely need to hire internal people who reflect that diversity.

Highlight what we value

Understanding the Latinx community’s unique values is critical to effectively marketing to our demographic. Marketers tend to focus on family, food, traditions and language, and while we value all these things, that’s not necessarily unique to being Latinx.

Cultural identity is extremely important to Latinx people, but how and what we identify with is not one-size-fits-all. What resonates with someone with Cuban roots may fail to connect with someone of Guatemalan heritage. Take the time to find the nuance within different subcultures.

Use the right medium

Digital marketing is a great channel to reach the Latinx community. The demographic relies heavily on mobile mediums in particular. Roughly 90% of Hispanic consumers stream video on a smartphone or tablet. Latinx are also more likely to use digital mediums to build communities among friends and family.

In order to connect with the growing Latinx demographic, marketers must seriously rethink their marketing strategy to better understand and depict the rich Latinx culture. Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to start, but if marketers truly want to resonate with the growing community of nearly 60 million individuals, they must carry out these suggestions all year.

@dannyhrb Danny Hernandez leads communications and PR at Forsmans & Bodenfors.