There were a few edits in the article that may have caused some confusion. Here is the original article. MS

Beyond All The Hype…A Five Step Approach For the Hispanic Market

Target Magazine Tipline, February 7, 2007, By Michael Saray

There is a lot of hype surrounding the Hispanic market these days, and rightfully so. Let’s take a moment to look at some key facts. One third of new home purchases in the next ten tears will be to Hispanics. According to the Directo Council research, credit card mailings to Hispanics increased 57% over the past two years. While many are aware that the Hispanic population will grow by 67 million people over the next 45 years, it is also very important to note that over the same time frame, the existing white non Hispanic (WNH) population actually declines.

So while it is clear that there is a growing and prosperous Hispanic market, marketers who are just starting out are likely to have a lot of questions on how best to start out. We recommend a Five Step Approach:

Segmentation. The Hispanic market is not homogenous and segments must be clearly defined. In general market you would never say I am targeting the total white population. The same applies to the Hispanic market. Segmentation criteria can include acculturation levels, language preference, country of origin, or income, credit card use or direct response activities. Position in the product lifecycle is also important. All segments can be marketed to but not all products can be sold to all segments.

Commitment. While this is a bit of a motherhood statement, it is typically where many companies fail with Hispanic initiatives. You must have adequate budget, personnel or outside resources. Entering the Hispanic market is not a test, it is a launch. It is essential for most company’s future survival. However, mistakes will be made, tests may not work and initial numbers may be disappointing. That’s why a serious commitment is required. If you start to consistently hear the following, you may be inviting failure:

Perspective. In other words, don’t sweat the little stuff. Don’t be overwhelmed by the conflicting information or perceived obstacles you will come across. Assess and learn from the anecdotes. The General Motors Mexican NOVA story is an urban legend. Hershey’s “Cajeta” is not, nor is “turbo cajones”. All Hispanics use the same dictionary. There is no Mexican-Colombian version just as there is no New York-Alabama version in English. There are more cultural commonalities than differences in the Hispanic market. Finally, there are always ways to receive payment. In other words there are challenges, not obstacles.

In Culture Creative. We believe that the key to effective creative is to understand that, in general, Hispanics are culturally “hard wired” differently. There is a propensity for more right brain thinking, when compared to the general market. As such Hispanics, tend to be more emotional, intuitive, creative, visionary and prefer a big picture approach. This applies regardless of acculturation or language use.

A recent study at Florida International University evaluated language use in everyday situations for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Hispanics. There were no real surprises here. As the generations increased, the use of Spanish decreased and English became dominant. However, when cultural questions were asked, the responses for all generations were almost identical. Moreover, on 21 of 22 questions there were significant differences from the WNH control panel.

In a practical sense, what does this mean? A few initial considerations are:

Media. Media selection is dependent upon the target segment and the type of message needed to reach the audience. DRTV is frequenntly preferred for reaching the less acculturated segments. Using the right creative allows prospects to self identify or “raise their hand”. However, compared to general market, inventory and selection are not as good.

Direct mail allows for a more expanded message, especially useful for educational components. It is also excellent when a bilingual approach, as in financial services, is required. In some cases targeting is excellent although the list universe is not as large as general market.

Internet is a good tool to reach more acculturated segments but is also rapidly reaching to less acculturated groups. There are 16 million Hispanics online with the last million  being Spanish preferred or dominant. Hispanic SEM has no established best practices at present but has real potential. Of course, website conversion is required.