Marketing to Minorities Part 1 – U.S. Hispanic Market

I have a wealth of opinions, personal and professional, as it relates to this subject.  As such, we won’t attempt to address all the variables that comprise this multifaceted area of marketing in this single entry.  Instead, we’ll focus on a few aspects now and address others in future blog entries.

When it comes to marketing to minorities, Hispanics in particular, it’s complicated.  Some of the more commonly discussed complexities include: (1) market fragmentation, (2) media options, and (3) return on investment.

Market Fragmentation

For marketers, wouldn’t it be convenient if Hispanics in the U.S. shared the same attitudes and behaviors when it came to consuming products?  Marketers would simply examine this homogenous market, identify those products and services that align with this market’s preferences and the marketing would do the rest.  But what language would we use, Spanish, English, Spanglish?  And are we to assume newly arrived immigrants will share the same consumption patterns as second generation Latinos?  Wait, are Hispanics a group with modest buying power or an affluent bunch?  By the way, Colombians, Cubans and Costa Ricans are all the same, right?

Marketers must reconcile a complicated, heterogeneous landscape in order to be effective.  The U.S. Hispanic marketplace is comprised of consumers from 20 countries-of-origin across a wide spectrum of acculturation levels, socio-economic groups and language preferences, among other considerations.  In short, it’s complicated.

Media Options

I just took a look at my Comcast Cable channel line-up.  I have nearly 300 choices.  If you include Comcast’s premium Spanish package offered at an additional cost, there are about 30 channel options for Spanish speaking consumers.  From a national reach standpoint, you only have to purchase a small subset of the 30 or so Spanish channels to reach the majority of Spanish speaking households.  This limitation in media options repeats itself to varying degrees across the Hispanic media spectrum, from radio to print to digital and beyond.  In fairness, more options continue to work their way into the Spanish media landscape, but when compared to our general market counterparts, Hispanic media options are considerably limited. 

Return on Investment

When a major advertiser invests in a website, it’s categorized as the cost of doing business.  These days, if you’re not online, you don’t exist, right?  Yet if you ask the same advertiser to invest in a Spanish language website, they ask why? They question the financial logic of the investment with a rigor apparently reserved for multicultural dollars, as if the fiscal risk were exponentially higher when applied in these “niche” markets.  This dichotomy in advertiser attitude when investing in multicultural markets versus the general market forces multicultural marketers to a higher standard.  Some believe that this higher standard is actually an unfair double standard.  Others maintain it brings out the best in our multicultural marketing professionals.

Now it’s your turn to chime in:

1) Is marketing to Hispanics in the U.S. any more complicated than marketing to any other segment of the population?

2) How do we overcome the media limitation issue?

3) Is the return on investment argument a legitimate challenge or a cop-out for multicultural marketers?

Your feedback is always welcomed here.

Alberto Padron


One comment

  1. Great Post Alberto! Very thought provoking.

    My 2 cents:

    SPOT ON regarding Market Fragmentation! There are just SO many different types of hispanics with different cultural norms, purchasing behaviors and brand preferences. Most of the ads that I see for hispanics are usually aimed at the larger Mexican American crowd, but this is more of a shot gun approach and I myself, though I’m central american (Nicaragua) find it difficult to relate to and in some cases understand what they are saying.

    Interesting topic! Would do well as a panel discussion

    – Ulises

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