La Movida

When you think about Hispanics, what is your first thought? In today’s political climate, I’m not positive that everyone’s response would be too endearing, however, for me its part of how I identify myself. When I, and most other Miami residents (which is where I’m from), the adjectives that pop into my head automatically are enthusiastic, spicy, rhythmical, and loud. In general, every Latino is extremely friendly, are passionate and carry themselves with a little salsa in each step, and never fail to be the loudest table in any given restaurant. Similar to how they say blondes have more fun, I think Hispanics know how to have a good time (not that I’m personally biased or anything.) Admittedly, I had a difficult time leaving the sunny, warm and rhythmic streets of Miami to move to the cold, snowy streets of Boston for college.

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The culture shock that ensued at first was definitely something I had to get used to; I cannot describe how many times my roommate and I would eat cereal for dinner or go hungry at the sight of closed dining hall doors because we were used to eating dinner much later than 8pm and October 2013 was the first time I ever saw a basement, ever. However, slowly we began to notice that we weren’t the only ones who came 5 minutes too late to eat and that sometimes someone would understand what we were saying when we would speak Spanish on the Comm Ave bus. Similarly, if you walk down Newbury or Boylston in the city you would hear a multitude of different Spanish accents having conversations. So I came to realize that even though it is pretty much not comparable to the Hispanic population of Miami, there was a pretty large population of Hispanic students and families in Boston.

After this realization, my immediate thoughts were that of my marketer self: why in the world aren’t companies and brands targeting Hispanics? Not only is 17% of the American population Hispanic in accordance to the 2014 Census, but 98% of Latin America has access to mobile cell signal and/or a cyber café in their area (a huge movement that has popped up around more remote areas) in addition to the 80% of Hispanics who have access across the globe. And more specifically, they are the most avid social media users in 2016 with Facebook being the most popular platform used with 141 million unique visitors and Twitter following.

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In previous summers I interned in a boutique branding firm in Miami that originally solely dedicated its portfolio to Hispanic media brand. I always thought it was a very interesting niche, especially in Miami, where the Latino community thrives and consumes everything. Throughout this unique opportunity, I got to learn the in’s and out’s of the way Latinos consume media; generally, most are accustomed to the tradition of family and sitting down and watching your favorite novela with abuela was considered quality time. The tradition of doing so has been passed down from generation to generation, however most of these shows aren’t broadcasted locally so they have to be streamed. Because everything is virtually online when it comes to participating in the tradition today, social media plays a big role in the marketing of the novelas as well as in the lives of the Latinos watching them. Over the years of working there, I was able to watch the way that my managers would transform the way they would speak to Latinos on social media through big campaigns promoting the Latin Grammy’s to the launch of novelas on Netflix, which is a brand that generally doesn’t market to the Hispanic segment. Similarly, I studied the way in which Latinos utilize social media, specifically to enact change in their communities. Many Latin countries are constantly struggling with social, economic or government problems of which Latins take to social media to express their opinions and fight for change. Some examples include students in Chile who were protesting against the expensive and segregated education system and the #YoSoy132 Twitter campaign that Mexican students created to protest the government. Because many Latinos live abroad outside of their native homes, the reach and voice that social media provides them is unsurmountable.

With all of this information, some common threads became apparent. Being that Latinos are loud and already utilize social media to a much larger degree, there is real potential to target them utilizing social media and endorsing their use of social media to promote your brand. Moreover, Latinos are enthusiastic people, and they really like to buy things (I am a victim, I admit). The US Hispanic community alone comprises 51% of the buying power, generating more than $650 billion dollars in revenue and is growing at a rate of 48% compared to the 27% of the nation as a whole. Similarly, as Latinos uphold tradition, brand loyalty is a common characteristic of Latino consumers; i.e. I have never bought anything other than Café Bustelo (Cuban Coffee) in my entire life, my mom ships it to me in care packages. However, more importantly than just being loyal buyers, in many ways, Latinos are considered and sometimes treated as minorities, so for them being given a voice is extremely important; it is something that they don’t take for granted (that means a lot of buzz for your brand).

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So taking these notions into consideration, it is evident that targeting the Latino market can easily make for a two-sided transaction; there are definitely not enough companies targeting them, they have plenty (sometimes too much) to say and social media is an effective way for them to share it.

(p.s. the title translates to “The Move”)

6 comments

  1. I loved your post, and the Latino community is really amazing! If I may say, I learned Spanish through the telenovelas that you mentioned, and today am able to have a fluent conversation with Spanish speaking people, it’s such a great language! I agree that in terms of social media there should be a lot more companies targeting the Latino community, especially since they are a growing community in the U.S. and a big part of the U.S. consumption. Companies should be taking that next step if they want to increase sales and become more profitable.

  2. While I think targeting this community is wise based on the numbers you provided, I wonder how the current political climate is including these decisions for many companies. Many companies may choose to maintain their current strategies until they can better understand the current climate and how their brands will be best marketed.

  3. Nice post! I recently traveled to be with my family in the D.R. because my abuelita (“Ita”) just passed away. Very proud to rooted in the warmth, energy, and spirit of Hispanic culture! It is very interesting to consider why companies don’t focus more efforts on marketing to this group. I know growing up, my experience was that D.R. always received the U.S. cultural imports late (movies, music, T.V., etc.). On my last visit, it was very interesting to see how much faster things have become with the internet, smartphones, and especially social media. My aunt’s husband said something interesting to me about his perspective on social media while I was down there. He was reacting to a social media post showing some manner of street violence/crime, and he voiced a concern that social media is also poisoning society by providing a platform to share humanity’s darkest real traits, perhaps inspiring others to do the same. Not sure I agree 100% but was interesting to hear his take on it.
    I’m afraid I agree with Troy that the current political climate may reinforce the reasons U.S. business leaders have chosen not to target the Hispanic market. But you and I know better. And it’s a big potential market! :)

  4. Great post! What I find really interesting here is how strongly you identify with your fellow Latino community. Culturally, at least that I’ve seen during my time at Boston College, many of my Latino friends are quite similar to you, they have a burning passion towards their heritage. I think this strong identity will actually translate really well with your initiatives to get brands to focus more heavily on that community. I say this because on most social media platforms, upon making an account, there is an ability to identify your nationality. This is just speculative, but I would imagine that a higher percentage of Latinos identify themselves as such on their social media platforms, rather than skipping this part of the account creation process. This would allow brands to not only shift their content to a more Latino based group, but also to find that group itself and create very tailored and curated social media campaigns.

  5. Natalie, such an interesting commentary on cultural brand targeting. After reading your post, my roommate and I launched into a long discussion of her favorite Cuban brands including La Cubanita, Yeya Guava Crackers and of course Cafe Bustelo (she regularly gets care-packages from her mom with Bustelo as well). As we discussed her attachment to these brands (some of which she finds at Wegmans), I could see how engrained in her retrieval set these products are — particularly Goya Guava Wafers as they are her favorite. From such an early age these items were engrained in her home-life, and I agree with your point that there is a powerful opportunity for brands to not only target the growing Latino-American market, but also find ways to have young people and young mothers engage with the brands digitally, so that like my roommate Lauren, the potential for a nostalgic and cultural connection to these brands can be cultivated early on.

  6. Nice post. It could have been made a bit stronger with a deeper focus on the digital aspects of the marketing efforts. It’s true that digital platforms do provide greater segmentation for marketing to groups of all kinds. Would have been nice to know a bit more about the efforts/ platforms targeted specifically for Hispanics. Great information in the post, though.

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