March 28, 2013

by Jose Villa / Sensis Whenever someone first gets involved in Hispanic marketing, they inevitably come across a series of universally accepted “truths” about Hispanic consumers and how to market to them. While some of these truths have faded as the market has evolved over the last 50 years, some continue unchallenged. But as anyone who is deeply involved in marketing to Hispanics today will tell you the market has evolved as quickly as it’s grown. Today’s modern Hispanic marketer understands everything we think we know about Hispanics has to be questioned — especially long-standing “truths” that are likely oversimplifications rooted in a simpler, more homogeneous world that no longer exists. So what are these truths? There are too many to go over in this short post, but here are three big ones still in wide circulation that need to be questioned. Hispanics are collectivist Hispanic populations in the U.S. — largely shaped by immigration experiences depending upon familial interdependence — are historically collectivist in nature. This notion is supported by the fact that Hispanics tend to have larger families, a broader notion of family including extended family and friends, and tend to live in densely Hispanic communities. However, the rapid rate of cultural assimilation by Hispanics in the U.S. and their overwhelming embrace of self-driven digital platforms — mobile, social media, tablets, etc. — calls into question this collectivist notion. Moreover, Hispanics are increasingly moving to non-Hispanic areas of the U.S. —Southeast, Midwest, etc. A recent Pew Research study shows Latina pregnancies are falling and Hispanic families are getting smaller. Hispanics are more brand loyal than non-Hispanics Hispanics are supposedly significantly more brand loyal than other ethnic groups and less likely to switch or experiment with new brands. This truth has been used to justify both the value of building brand affinity among Hispanics and deciding against pursuing the Hispanic market as a lost cause. There is certainly a large volume of research supporting the view of a highly brand loyal Hispanic when looking at recent immigrants and unacculturated Hispanics. However, the data paints a very different picture when looking at the broader Hispanic population. Experian Simmons Summer 2012 NHCS shopping behavior and psychographics data on brand loyalty shows only 30 percent of Hispanics are far above or above average “Brand Loyals,” compared to 35 percent of non-Hispanics. Moreover, a number of studies show Hispanic brand loyalty tends to fade as they acculturate. The Hispanic Mom The almost mythical Hispanic mom, or female head-of-household is probably one of the most oversimplified and over-generalized figures in the Hispanic market. Most descriptions of the Hispanic mom involve younger married women who are stay-at-home moms with 3+ children making most of the household purchasing decisions and devoutly watching Spanish telenovelas. The reality is much more complex. A recent Axis “Segmenting Hispanic Moms” report finds Hispanic moms are slightly older, more acculturated, and mostly working moms. The report identified five distinct Hispanic mom segments, none of which fits the stereotype. We know Latinas are having fewer children (see above) and recent studies, including Integer’s “The New Hispanic Shopper,” are calling into question the purchase “gatekeeper” mythology of the Hispanic female head of household. According to the Integer report, Hispanic males are adapting to new roles, moving away from many machista stereotypes to become more active household contributors, including becoming empowered to make their own decisions when shopping. A common thread across these increasingly irrelevant truths is that they are based on a less acculturated Hispanic immigrant. As I am constantly preaching, the unacculturated, Spanish-preferring Hispanic immigrant is now a minority among the 52 million Hispanics in the U.S. A savvy marketer is well-served beginning any Hispanic effort by questioning these and the many other commonly held notions about the Hispanic market.

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