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Think Hispanically, Act Locally

Targeting a “Hispanic” audience overlooks important nuance, and in some cases can push consumers away.

Content marketers trying to reach the “Hispanic” market might need to re-think their use of that word and their strategy in trying to communicate with this demographic.
The problem is that Hispanics, or Latinos, are not a homogenous group.
Imagine running into an Ohio State football fan and a Michigan alum and saying, “Both of your teams play in the Big 10, you must get along great!”
Hispanics in the U.S. come from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and a host of other countries. Some have recently arrived and consider themselves primarily Hondurans, Argentinians or Guatemalans. Americans of “Hispanic” descent who were born here don’t necessarily have the same attachments to “the old country” as their parents or grandparents who were born there.

Content Targeting Is Best Done Geographically

Content marketers should consider creating multiple versions of the same ad to run in different local markets for maximum effectiveness with Latino audiences. For example, if Ford wanted to appeal to Hispanic vehicle buyers, it might run an ad in South Florida that contained Cuban music, a Cuban celebrity or other cultural and visual references from Cuba. It would create a second version of the ad to run in East L.A. featuring Mexican music, role models or styles of dress. The same ad running in New York City might use Puerto Rican Cultural references.

“Hispanic” or “Latino”?

Be careful using the word “Hispanic” to describe all people who speak Spanish. The word “Hispanic” originated because of a common language (Spanish), while the word “Latino” referred to a common geographic area (Latin America). Both have evolved to similar meanings today, but gringos have used “Hispanic” enough that it might be turning off some “Latinos.”
Using “Hispanic,” especially to pigeon-hole native-born Americans of Central and South American descent, might offend your target customer, making them recoil from the category you’ve put them in.

Be Subtle

Slapping a photo of obviously Latino models doesn’t make these folks want to buy your car, shoes or sports drink, says J.D. Cantu, co-founder of Trevino Toda Media, a tech-media company creating digital journalism and mobile content for Latino audiences.
“It’s hard to market to all Latinos because they all have different preferences and cultural backgrounds. Even with Mexicans, you have the ranchero Mexicans and the city dwellers. The only thing we have in common is the language, and even that has differences in verbiage we use. You have to give Latinos something they are familiar with and that they embrace.
“When we post on Twitter for example, the biggest results we get happen when we use verbiage that gets our followers to say, “That sounds familiar to me.” A large part of the Latinos and Hispanics here in the U.S. speak both languages, so we incorporate English and Spanish together, and use words and phrases such as or “oye” or “chavo.” Marketers are missing this method of making a familiar connection.

“Latina” Is Universal

“If you use the word ‘Latina,’ all Hispanic women associate with that word,” says Cantu. “I don’t care if they were born here or not, if you say ‘Latina,’ that is a cohesive word you can use across the board with Latin women. There is a unifying factor in that word for them. ‘Latina’ is something that they all feel very proud of and culturally connected to.”

Family Is Important

Because of the strong, multi-generational bond among Latinos, showing two adult generations in an ad is positive. “Family bond is huge with Latinos,” says Cantu. For example, showing a young, adult African American or white couple using a computer while their parents look on in the background might can send a negative connotation about the couple or situation. Showing a Latino young Latino couple with their parents in the background engenders positive emotions.

Try a Focus Group

Content marketers should survey their target audience to see which words, music and imagery they respond to more, suggest Cantu. This will help marketers avoid making mistakes in cultural references, sending generic messages or even patronize Hispanic/Latino audiences. And, in some cases, to avoid lumping all Hispanics into one group, content marketers might need to geographically localize their messages.

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