Crafting the Right Message for the Hispanic Market

In 2012, the United States Census reported a 16.7% of total population to be of Hispanic or Latino origin. This number surpasses the percentage of African American population, which was reported at 13.1%. As such, the significance of this particular population segment for advertisers continues to gain importance and the Hispanic segment is becoming less of a minority. In recent days, the Austin Advertising Federation held their Hispanic Marketing Symposium aimed at exploring the latest trends of this important market segment.

One of the big challenges with the Hispanic population is that they come from many different countries which have unique and individual customs, traditions, and even unique variations of the Spanish language. This causes them to have different motivations, different perceptions, and different reactions to the same message. Pride in their culture and roots is very important for Hispanics. Therefore, if an advertiser tailors a message to people from Mexican descent, those people of Puerto Rican, Argentinean, Colombian, etc.. descent might not react as well to the message and might even perceive as if they are being ignored by the advertiser or might become offended. Therefore, advertisers need to account for the emotional side of the audience, learn what their “passion points” are, and target them accordingly.

At the same time, as Hispanics become more and more an integral part of the overall American culture and general market, especially as the second and subsequent generations come along, many of them expect to be considered part of the general market. This is a trend African Americans have already experienced and continue to experience. So even though there are still ads and messages out there specifically targeting African Americans, we have seen a steady increase of inclusion of this segment in every-day, general market messages. Thus we have the face of the All State Insurance, the original Old Spice man, and so forth being African American individuals speaking to a general market audience. This trend will be repeated for Hispanics and, at some level, it already is. Consider the “most interesting man in the world” campaign. Even though he is a blue-eyed white looking guy (lots of Hispanics fall outside of the traditional physical appearance stereotype they seem to be subject to), he speaks to the Anglo population by suggesting they can become more interesting if they get a little dose of exotic. Dos Equis, being a Mexican brand, suggests these exotic traits that make people interesting might very well come from that Hispanic touch. At the same time, Hispanics feel identified with the “cool” tag of “being exotic” because of their origins.

The main challenge seems to be how to find the right mix between crafting a message that is Hispanic-inclusive as part of the general market message, or creating a message that is specifically targeted to Hispanics of all countries. Certainly, not an easy decision…

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