In 2014 the Hispanic population in the United States reached 55.4 million. That’s more than a 2% increase over the prior year and a trend that has been substantially affecting the economy and overall population growth for the past fifteen years.
In fact, the number of Spanish speakers in the United States is second only to Mexico. But perhaps more importantly, of the 41 million native Spanish speakers in the country, nearly a third of them have limited proficiency in English.
So what does that mean to businesses? Primarily it means that there is a growing audience of the Spanish speaking population that is underserved by brands who have yet to capitalize on this market. But it also means that there is tremendous opportunity to tap into what is arguably the largest single consumer market in the country.
The growth of the Hispanic market is a trend that businesses would be wise to heed, especially since the Hispanic population also has a median age of 29 years old – a hot demographic for many businesses both large and small.
Are you missing out on $1.3 trillion in U.S Hispanic buying power?
Let’s explore some of these opportunities and how you can capitalize on them as a consumer brand.
Purchasing Trends In The Hispanic Community
Not all markets are created equal and nowhere is this as evident as in the Hispanic community. The types of products they purchase, their buying behavior and the amount of money they spend are uniquely worth mentioning.
In general, Hispanic shoppers spend on average $10 more per shopping trip than the total market, but more importantly, they make at least as many shopping trips and in some cases more than the average consumer.
Multiply that extra $10 across a 55 million plus community and you can begin to see why tapping into this market is so enticing.
So the Hispanic market is comprised of eager consumers – but what are they purchasing?
Here the statistics are clear as well, and they speak in part to what Hispanics value as a culture. One of the hottest selling consumer categories in this market is beauty and personal care. But more interesting than the facts are the trends: while overall purchases of beauty products are down in a number of categories, including cosmetics, hair care, fragrances and personal appliances, those same categories have seen an increase in purchases specifically from the Hispanic market. In some categories, purchasing is up nearly 10% thanks in whole to Hispanic consumers.
Understanding the cultural references is as important as recognizing the trends. As a culture, Hispanics value personal appearance and build self-esteem through beauty. They are more willing to spend on personal care products and more willing to try new products and experiment. This extends not only to women who are typically viewed as the more avid consumer of beauty products but to men as well, who also contribute significantly to spending in these categories.
That information is a powerful ally for businesses looking to tap into the Hispanic mindset.
Hispanics As Early Adopters Of Technology
Of the growing Hispanic market, it is estimated that there are approximately 21 million Millennials within it. Given the demographic it’s easy to see why mobile technology has seen a surge in popularity.
Latinos own smart phones, on average, at a 10% higher rate than the general population. They are twice as likely to upgrade their tablets when new versions are released and nearly half of them plan to upgrade their phones at a new version.
These numbers are significant not only for technology providers but for advertisers as well. Of the Millennial market, nearly 80% of them agreed that mobile advertising provides useful information about new products. That number is simply staggering.
Another interesting statistic: one out of five social media users is Hispanic. For businesses, that means the potential to reach this market online is huge – provided they have the right outreach process in place, including a cultural understanding of the people they are speaking to and the language components to support it.
Other Notable Buying Trends
The categories we’ve mentioned are just two that demonstrate the power of the Hispanic market, but they are certainly not the only ones that have shown growth thanks to a growing Latino population in the United States.
Among other categories that have seen growth are music, where Hispanics spend nearly 30% more each year than the general population, pet care, where Hispanics are more likely than the national average to own a dog or cat, and beer, where the Hispanic market has contributed 10% growth to the premium and above market.
Again, these statistics are not merely numbers but they reflect cultural expectations and values that are key to understanding the market. For example, Latino spending on music reflects a cultural tradition of community and celebration. By understanding the trends and the meaning behind them, businesses are in a far better place to begin serving this market.
Understanding the trends is one thing, but reaching the people behind them presents its own challenges. Many businesses are barely floundering at the edges without either truly understanding cultural differences or providing even the most basic outreach via Spanish language websites, advertising or marketing materials.
While there are many considerations that come into play before embarking on a multilingual and multicultural marketing campaign, here are just some keys to reaching this growing audience.
Before you begin, take the time to understand your demographic. The Hispanic community is as diverse within itself as it is from other cultures. There is no “one size fits all” and to oversimplify the market by lumping consumers into one category would be to do them and your business a great disservice.
We’ve spoken collectively about the “Hispanic” market but to engage the community effectively, first you need to understand their cultural references. Cuban Hispanics are different from Mexican Hispanics, who are different from Argentinians and so on.
Your product or service may appeal to one or more of these groups, and that is for you to determine. If you don’t have the budget to target specific cultural and geographic groups, a more Spanish-neutral approach can work, but again, approach this with care and consideration. A haphazard or quickly executed plan can backfire in a loss of credibility and trust that can take a lot longer to recover from than simply doing it right in the first place.
Once you’ve clearly defined your target and understand their point of view, wants, needs and expectations, you can begin outreach.
Effective Marketing Strategies
A study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that of the 82% of Spanish speaking Latino adults, 95% of them feel it is “very important” for their children and future generations to continue to speak Spanish.
But counter intuitively most Spanish speaking people gravitate toward English language websites.
Why? In part because of a dearth of Spanish language websites, and in part because those that do exist are so poorly translated and don’t provide a relevant user experience.
This is a tremendous opportunity to fill a gap where a large swath of the population eagerly awaits recognition. McDonald’s does this well with their domain meencanta.com, a play on their “I’m lovin’ it” campaign, translated more colloquially as “I like it” but designed to maintain its positive and lyrical effect within the Hispanic culture.
If you still believe you can get by on an English-only site, or use a consumer level tool like Google Translate to push something out inexpensively, it’s time to rethink that strategy in favor of something both culturally sensitive and relevant.
Creating a customized domain is a good place to start. Offering your visitors the opportunity to toggle easily between languages is another plus, and can promote cross-generational purchasing.
And remember that you need to invest just as much time and effort into your Spanish language site as your English language one. Leaving your site to languish is opening the door to lost opportunity. A poorly translated site as well as an outdated or broken one can instill mistrust. And when people are not confident in your brand, they won’t buy from you.
Whenever possible, avoid direct translations of your English language materials into Spanish. The problem is that language is far from precise. We speak in nuances often defined by context and in colloquialisms and slang that may not exist in another language or may mean something entirely – and unfortunately – different. Consider transcreation instead, which is a creative way of retaining the meaning and relevance of language without necessarily providing a one-to-one translation. A great example of transcreation is the McDonald’s phrase mentioned earlier.
When considering advertising, it is important to understand that ads with content of an emotional nature connected better with the Millennial audience. And perhaps just as important as the right Spanish language translation is understanding and tapping into the passions of this younger market, specifically sports and music. Combine effective transcreation with emotionally compelling content around the things people care about and you have a far greater chance of reaching consumers – and their wallets.
Finally, consider taking your marketing and advertising mobile. A strong mobile campaign that is culturally engaging will put you ahead of where most businesses are currently. Remember, simply “speaking the language” isn’t enough. Creatively engaging your audience, understanding their passions and providing what they need are the keys to a strong campaign.
Hopefully by now you’ve begun to grasp the true untapped potential of the Hispanic market, the spending power of this demographic and the rather large gaps that are waiting to be filled by businesses with the right mindset.
If you have questions about how you can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity and do it with integrity and effectiveness, let us know. We’ve been supporting businesses around the globe as they move into multicultural markets and we have the experience and technology to support you.