Hispanic American Marketing Q&A with Hernan Tagliani
The Hispanic American community in the United States is an important consumer demographic that can positively affect a brand’s performance. Unfortunately, Hispanic American marketing is often overlooked or, worse, misunderstood.
For example, 70% of Hispanics are born in America. They are bilingual and bicultural. And because their spending power is rising, Hispanic Americans are an important segment of the upper-middle class with significant purchasing power.
To learn more about the importance of the Hispanic American market, we spoke with Hernan Tagliani, President-CEO of The Group Advertising and a leading expert on Hispanic marketing with more than 20 years of experience in the advertising industry.
Opportunities in Marketing to Hispanic American Consumers
How important is the Hispanic American market today?
The Hispanic American market is the fastest-growing demographic, both in terms of population and wealth. The projected growth of Hispanic households with incomes of $100k+ between 2017–2022 was +23% vs. +12% for non-Hispanics, based on a Geoscape report. Estimates from a report from Geospace American Marketscape DataStream indicates that more than 50% of the U.S. population growth is attributed to Hispanics. This is where the growth is, so if your company wants to bring in more consumer dollars, it has to appeal to the Hispanic American market.
How can a marketer include the Hispanic American demographic in their marketing plan?
First, start off by being proactive. I have seen executives who get paralyzed by the decision to move forward with a Hispanic market initiative. You have to start somewhere, or else you will end up going nowhere.
Also, think about how you’re using your budget, and then reallocate your marketing dollars wisely. If you are in a market where over 45% of the population is Hispanic and have only been investing 2% of your budget, it is time to reevaluate your investment. You can’t take advantage of all the financial opportunities of the Hispanic American demographic if you don’t allocate the money to do so.
What should non-Hispanic marketers consider when developing strategies to target Hispanics?
Start by realizing that even the idea of “Hispanics” is overly broad. Even when dealing with Hispanic Americans specifically, there is a lot of diversity. They come from a variety of different backgrounds with their own cultural nuances. Just like how Australia and the U.S. have noticeable cultural differences despite both speaking English, so do Mexico and Columbia, even though they are both Spanish-speaking countries.
A large portion of U.S. Hispanics are more acculturated and, therefore, English-speaking or bilingual, with English as their preferred language. There is still a strong portion of Hispanics (usually older) who are less acculturated and want to be spoken to in Spanish. There may very well be a mix of acculturation levels in one household, so you need to appeal to both English and Spanish speakers.
For example, if a university wanted to attract more Hispanic students, the potential students they want to reach are likely more acculturated and prefer English. However, that university also has to appeal to whoever is footing the tuition bill. This is likely the parents or grandparents, who may be less acculturated and prefer Spanish. To get just one new student, they must appeal to two different mindsets in two different languages and approaches.
However, even if they speak English, your execution has to appeal to their cultural nuances. Hispanic culture is more important than language. Adjustments must be made to your campaign to engage the consumer culturally. So, if you really want to be successful with Hispanic consumers, the best investment you can make is in education. Learn who they are, get exposed to their culture and how they interact with your brand.
What is ‘transcreating’ versus ‘translating’?
Transcreation, versus translation, is the best way to engage with the Hispanic market.
Transcreating is adapting an ad campaign to get the brand message across in a culturally relevant manner. It’s about researching the target market, in this case, Hispanics, and trying to understand them so you can express the message from your general market campaigns in a way that will resonate with them. Transcreating does not necessarily require a Spanish-version campaign.
Translating is just putting the general market ad in Spanish. There is little to no attempt to change the content of the ad to make it more culturally relevant. By simply changing the language of the content, you are forcing a message and marketing strategy from the general market to work based on language alone. This is not an effective or efficient use of your funds.
What is ‘Unconscious Bias’ in marketing campaigns?
When you don’t do the proper research and/or are unwilling to confront your personal biases, you may make the biggest marketing decisions based on misconceptions. Many executives are not committed to the success of multicultural marketing initiatives because they don’t understand the market nor the power it can have in their success. They let their misconceptions get in the way.
For example, I have seen many executives brush off the Hispanic market because they assume they are all illegal Mexican immigrants with no disposable income. In actuality, over 70% of the Hispanic population is born in America; they are bilingual, bicultural, and educated, their incomes have been on the rise, and they are becoming an important part of the middle-to-upper class. U.S. Hispanics alone are one of the top 10 economies in the world. There is money to be spent, and plenty of opportunities to earn it, as Hispanics actually over-index in many categories.
Many CMOs also make the mistake of assuming that because their brand is big, everyone knows about it, so they think they don’t have to advertise to minorities. However, just because the consumer is aware of your brand marketing, doesn’t mean they know and are engaged with it. You can see your neighbor every day, but if you never strike up a conversation with them, do you really know each other? Not really. If you don’t make the effort to engage with minorities, your brand is just a name they see in passing.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Marketing
How can brands ensure they maintain a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) without it seeming like performative activism?
Stand for genuine change. Don’t just acknowledge Hispanics during Hispanic Heritage Month or the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. Don’t just count how many minority employees you have or whether you have people of color in your advertising, and call it a day.
DEI isn’t a bingo card where you can mark off a spot because it achieved a certain demographic ratio amongst your employees or said “Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.” DEI is a process of sustained change.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- What do you do to impact different communities?
- How can you create ambassadors throughout diverse communities?
- How many contracts do you grant to minority-owned businesses to fulfill your company’s vision and mission?
- How can you create a workplace that values different perspectives?
Also, while there is more to DEI than how many minority employees you have, the diversity of your leadership team matters. Inclusive leadership assures team members are heard, respected and empowered with a strong sense of belonging.
Hispanic American Digital Marketing
What have you found to be the most impactful digital marketing tactics with Hispanic Americans?
Organic search, display advertising, and social media.
Like with any medium, cultural relevance and research is the foundation for an effective campaign. Seventy percent of Hispanics said it is important that a website has culturally relevant content while they are gathering information about a purchase.
Digital marketing also has the advantage of data. You can adapt and adjust to meet and exceed the wants and needs of customers by basing it on data you’ve captured from them.
What are the pitfalls of relying on Google Translate to translate campaign creative?
Google Translate lacks context when it translates. There’s an interesting article from the Atlantic, “The Shallowness of Google Translate,” which explains how Google Translate’s translation method of associating words in one language with words in another can often lead to nonsensical translations.
In particular, Google Translate seems to struggle with gendered terms like “he” and “she” in gendered languages like Spanish, often removing the terms or replacing them with less valuable synonyms. This is before we even get into less literal nuances such as connotations and figurative language. Google Translate does not translate with context, and so the message is often lost or muddled with anything beyond simple sentences.
Relying on Google’s translation feature for websites is also ill-advised beyond concerns of mistranslation. When designing our website, we found that it does not work for graphics and GIFs. This creates an incohesive, and unappealing website layout, as the text is in Spanish, and the banner graphics are in English. It may also fail to translate important information depending on how you formatted and inserted it into your site.
What is overlooked in web development and web design for Hispanic Americans?
Do you have a bilingual or multilingual website? The majority of U.S. Hispanics use either English or a mix of English and Spanish keywords. In fact, over 30% of online consumption in the U.S. is done by searchers who use Spanish and English interchangeably. There are Hispanics out there looking for content in Spanish.
It’s also worth noting, that depending on their Google language settings, they may only get Spanish search results. Older, less acculturated members of a household may be more likely to prefer Spanish and thus have their browser set to Spanish. That means they won’t see any of your English content.
Even those whose preferred language is English might appreciate the effort. When an ad or site includes aspects of their culture, 88% pay attention to them, and 41% feel more favorable about the brand.
In what ways can marketers ensure that any member of the Hispanic community feels welcomed by the brand beyond the landing page?
Your customer service team should have bilingual employees, and the customer’s experience on the website should carry over into a company’s physical retail locations if they have them. If your website has a Spanish version and it is easy to get in touch with a Spanish-speaking customer service member, customers will see your brand as Spanish-speaker friendly and go to your stores under that pretense. If your physical store then has no Spanish-speaking employees, the customer will be very disappointed.
Good customer service is one of the main factors determining Hispanic consumers’ satisfaction in a retail environment.
Travel and Tourism Marketing to Hispanic Americans
Is there an opportunity for travel and tourism marketers to target Hispanic Americans?
Absolutely. Hispanic travel is a faster-growing segment than the general market, with an economic impact estimated at more than $56 billion annually in leisure travel, according to a Forbes article from 2019.
Hispanics also go on an average of two more trips per year than non-Hispanics and are more likely to travel in groups of four or more, as they like to bring their family. There are more opportunities to make money off Hispanic travel, as they do it more often. But there is also the potential to make more money each time, as they’ll be paying for more people’s accommodations. Plus, they are more likely to have young kids, which means additional entertainment costs such as toys and theme parks.
U.S. Hispanics are more likely to book their travel online through their phones. This means that your site should be mobile-friendly and available in Spanish. It also means you can target Hispanic audiences directly with mobile ads, which can link straight to your website.
I think Expedia is doing a good job at targeting the Hispanic market, as they have a full Spanish-language version of their site.
Elements of the Best Hispanic Marketing Campaigns
If your brand is ready to explore Hispanic American marketing, or wants to improve on existing strategies and tactics, consider these factors of the best Hispanic American campaigns from Hernan Tagliani:
- Be Proactive: Avoid analysis paralysis and focus on iterating campaigns based on data.
- Allocate Dollars Strategically: Consider the percent of your Hispanic American audience, and allocate a similar budget percentage to this segment.
- Recognize Cultural Nuances: The Hispanic American demographic comprises sub-groups that may not share the same cultural mores. Adjusting strategies, tactics and creative towards high-performing sub-groups could increase performance.
- Varying Levels of Acculturation: Segments within the Hispanic American market may have different language preferences, even within the same home. Consider your target audience and adjust creative accordingly.
- Transcreation over Translation: Adapting campaigns to achieve a similar cultural relevance is more likely to produce positive results than just translating the words.
- Use a Data-Informed Approach: Research and data results will help avoid internal unconscious biases in developing marketing strategies and target marketing. Avoid Google Translate at all costs.
- Stand for Genuine Change: Performative activism, where brands stand for a cause but don’t take action, is increasingly a concern for many consumers. DEI is an ongoing change process that isn’t limited to a specific day or month.
- Create Culturally Relevant Content: Providing culturally relevant content throughout the sales journey, and not just in a single ad set or landing page, is most likely to engage Hispanic American audiences.
- Consider a Bilingual or Multilingual Website: The majority of Hispanic Americans may use English and Spanish interchangeably. Offering websites that cater to each language can help increase conversion, particularly among consumers less acculturated.
- Use Bilingual Customer Service: If a brand provides a bilingual online experience, consumers will appreciate and even expect a similar offline experience. Providing bilingual customer service members will increase customer satisfaction.
About Hernan Tagliani
Hernan Tagliani is one of the leading experts on Hispanic marketing with more than 20 years of experience in the advertising industry. He knows exactly how to capitalize on the growing Hispanic market and get his clients the highest return on their investment.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Hernan Tagliani has proven his ability by leading some of the most highly-effective marketing, media and strategic communications campaigns for distinguished brands such us: BMW Motorcycles, Shell, Heinz, Blockbuster, Hooters of America, Aldi Supermarkets, Bealls, Estrella TV, Marriott Vacation Club, LAPA Airlines, Florida Power and Light, Murray’s Discount Auto Stores, Orlando Magic, Hilton Hotels and many more. He has also inspired innovative product launches and promotions that have generated amazing results in the industry.
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