Why Brands Need to Find Ways to Connect With Hispanic Consumers

By recognizing audience preferences, they’ll be able to forge a deeper relationship together

a man and woman shopping while on their phones
Hispanic consumers demand more of brands than the vast majority of U.S. citizens. Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Getty Images

As the United States begins National Hispanic Heritage month, both consumers and brands should take the time to reflect on what it means to be Hispanic in the U.S. and how can brands better engage and empathize with this 18% minority voice in America.

It’s important to point out that Hispanics share a language and some cultural similarities, but it would be culturally ignorant to lump these diverse people into one consumer target group. This makes it challenging for brands to target them, knowing that the Hispanic populations of Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are not the same and one size fits all isn’t always the best approach. On the flip side, this has also made it more challenging for Hispanic consumers themselves to unite and speak up as one voice when it comes to their expectations from brands and society as a whole.

What we do know is that Hispanics are more demanding of brands than the average U.S. citizen, with 67% expecting brands to step up their collective contribution to society. Hispanics want brands to participate in solving societal issues and expect them to be present in their communities.

Automotive brands like Honda, Ford and Toyota have all homed in on addressing Hispanic consumers. Toyota’s focus has been on praising unity of diverse Hispanic communities into one common voice. For instance, with its campaign ¨Junto Somos Imparables,¨ Toyota has endeared itself to the Hispanic community by showcasing inspirational content that celebrates Hispanics for their similarities. The campaign featured an interactive art installation containing license plates presenting the values of the Hispanic community, and the installation went all around the United States.

Toyota, like the above-mentioned automotive brands, has focused their communication efforts in Spanish as well, something this population prefers to see from brands. Not surprisingly, Toyota is the number one sedan brand among Hispanics in the U.S.

Beyond TVCs and other traditional forms of advertising in Spanish, brands are expected to deliver on new forms of content for Hispanic consumers. Here again, Hispanics are highly demanding, with 90% of them wanting solutions, experiences, stories, apps, etc. They are not too keen on brand content that serves solely as a source of entertainment, but are focused on content forms that help to solve a problem, educate them, provide rewards, discounts and inspire them.

In other words, putting your brand into the next Luis Fonsi music video isn’t necessarily going to boost brand sales among Hispanics. That is, unless you’re a beverage brand; this is the one category where Hispanics do expect you to entertain them. And Johnny Walker’s music campaign featuring a bilingual version of the very patriotic “This Land Is Your Land,” performed by Chicano Batman, hits the sweet spot with a discourse of unity among all Americans, something Hispanics appreciate.

Despite high expectations, Hispanics remain optimistic and are more loyal to brands they feel deliver. This may be partly because U.S. Hispanics are younger and perhaps still in the honeymoon phase with brands versus an older population. In fact, 51% of Hispanics are between the ages of 18–35, compared with only 32% of the overall U.S. population.

Nevertheless, it does provide a window for brands to engage with Hispanic consumers early on, showing they understand the needs and expectations of this diverse community and as a result, forging brand and consumer relationships that last for the benefit of both.

@TheMariaGarrido Maria Garrido is chief insights officer at Havas Group and senior vice president, brand marketing at Vivendi.