Throughout the years, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations in the U.S. have become more popular. And thanks to Disney’s Coco, the holiday has reached a new level of awareness and acceptance among younger generations. Although Day of the Dead is about honoring those who have passed through traditions such as altars, catrinas, food, and music, I can’t help but think of some Hispanic marketing practices that should be put to rest. So, in the spirit of the holiday, here are five marketing tactics that deserve their own altars:
1. Using language as a limitation to reach Latinos – According to Mintel’s “Marketing to Hispanic Millennials” 2018 report, 64 percent of Hispanic millennials are bilingual and move seamlessly between English and Spanish depending on the occasion. While some believe this makes marketing to Hispanics more complex, it does open opportunities for brands that don’t reach out to this audience because they don’t have in-language content for Latinos. The key to connecting with this consumer is cultural relevance; ensuring that Latino lifestyles, heritage and traditions are noticeable in each campaign; an example of this is Goya’s “Life Has More Than One Flavor” creative, which is anchored on Latino insights, but is all in English.
2. Assuming Latinos don’t buy premium brands – We have all heard the statistics: Latinos’ spending power is now at $1.7 trillion dollars; the U.S. Hispanic market is larger than Mexico’s GDP, and bigger than the economies of all but 14 countries in the world. However, Hispanics are still underrepresented in the luxury category, and that’s a big miss for brands who are looking to grow in their category. According to a Washington Post article, nearly 16 percent of all Hispanic households make more than $100,000 annually. And a Kantar webinar revealed that, over the next five years, new vehicle sales among Hispanics is expected to grow by 8 percent, whereas they anticipate a 2 percent decline for total market. Furthermore, Latinos are more likely to buy luxury as their first vehicle vs. general market. However, it is important for luxury brands to find the right approach to reaching this consumer and not rely only on their current efforts. Latinos have worked hard to get where they are and want to see their lifestyle and values represented in campaigns.
3. Not all Latinos are the same – I grew up in California, where most Latinos, like me, were of Mexican descent. But having lived in New York and now Florida, I have gained a greater appreciation for the diversity and richness within Latino culture. While Pew Research reports that Mexicans account for 63 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population, this number has actually declined in recent years, while immigration from Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Salvadorians, Cubans, Dominicans and Guatemalans have all increased during the last decade. Each country has its own flavor, traditions and struggles; marketers who assume all Latinos are the same are ignoring an important, and growing, segment. Instead of believing that all Latinos love soccer, tacos, and mariachi, it’s important to dig deeper for insights and values that reflect the various subgroups among Latinos. For example, baseball is a huge sport among Dominicans, while boxing is more relevant among Puerto Ricans.
4. Latinos need to acculturate to U.S. Lifestyles – Forbes recently unveiled its list of the highest paid TV actors and actresses of 2018. As a Latina, I was proud to see Sofia Vergara of Modern Family top the list for the seventh consecutive year. Additional names like Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Shakira are household names among those who love entertainment. You don’t have to be Hispanic to be a fan of their work; fans embrace these Latino artists, who are proud of their heritage and have found a way to stick to their roots, while branching out to embrace U.S. traditions and style. It is important for marketers to not ignore the impact that Latinos have had in U.S. culture and – instead of assuming they will shed their Hispanic heritage to embrace U.S. traditions – consider acknowledging how the U.S. is acculturating to Latino culture and reflect this through representation, inclusion and, more importantly, spend. Head & Shoulders is a prime example of an English-language execution that features a Latina mother (Sofia Vergara) who has the perfect solution for her son’s dry scalp. The cultural insights are not overly exaggerated, but do reflect the attitude and behavior of Latina mothers.
5. Translating general market executions – I was recently speaking to a prospect who wanted to work with us to test their English-language creative among Latino consumers. To say that I was shocked was an understatement. If a brand is interested in reaching this consumer, why aren’t they developing creative based on relevant insights? Just because Latinos speak English (see first point), that doesn’t mean their purchasing behavior or motivation is the same as their U.S. counterparts. I felt like I had travelled back in time, and it hurt knowing all the data and success stories we have from brands that have grown by connecting with Latinos. And yet, some brands just want to do the bare minimum to reach this consumer. This marketing tradition has got to be a thing of the past.
There is tremendous pride that exists among Hispanics over their cultural traditions, beliefs and attitude towards life that cannot be ignored. This demographic has influence over others, is willing to spend money and is ready to listen to brands who speak to them in their “language.” But just like the consumer profile has evolved over the years, so must the way marketers communicate with this demographic. As Day of the Dead celebrations take place across the nation, I invite marketers to analyze their own approach and think of new ways to connect with Latinos.
Maria Amor is Vice President of Havas FORMULATIN, an award-winning Hispanic PR agency. She has 15 years of industry experience and has spent the last decade working with brands to connect with Latino audiences. Originally from Mexico City, Maria now resides in Miami where she has gained a new appreciation for cortaditos, migas, and arepas.