Updated: Sep 15
September 15th marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a time to honor the cultural roots that many of us at The Colibri Collective share. From Cuba to El Salvador and Mexico, our roots draw from cultural heritage throughout Latin America. As a multicultural agency, we do things differently. Our best practices for multicultural marketing start with leveraging data and personal expertise to understand our audience.
Latino Buying Power
The 2020 Census shows that 18.7% of the total population of the United States now identifies as Hispanic. The Hispanic dollar, or buying power, is valued at $1.9 trillion, which is 10.8% of all US buying power.¹ The campaigns that truly invest in understanding the Hispanic community have built incredible campaigns that tie into emotions and culture; take Target for example. Their Hispanic Heritage Month campaign, Más Que A Month, incorporates cultural insights to create products and marketing materials that are engaging for any Hispanic household audience.
Latino Political Power
In terms of political gains, Hispanic presence is expanding with the potential for an enduring foothold in the sway of politics. Registered Hispanic voters now account for 12% of the electorate, and Hispanic voter turnout in 2020 was an astounding 68%. Based on the relatively young median age of Hispanic voters and their life expectancy, Hispanic voters will have 52 years of voting power, the highest rating compared to any other ethnic group.² Hispanic Americans have more presence now than ever before. With this undeniable growth in political and financial power, companies and campaigns have begun to recognize the value of the Hispanic market. But so often, Hispanic marketing misses the mark. Shoddy translations done via Google translate are just the beginning of the pitfalls we have witnessed. Oftentimes, the biggest mistake is the fundamental assumption that Hispanic audiences are uniform. We're providing the 5 best strategies to reach a Latino audience.
Top 5 Best Practices to Reach a Hispanic Target Audience
1. Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx? Identity begins with a name but for Hispanic people, that isn’t a simple task. Recently, “Latinx” has been popularized as a non-gender-specific label for Latinos. However, recent polls from Gallup and Pew Research Center show that only between 3-5% of Hispanic people prefer the term Latinx. A majority prefer the term Hispanic and over three-quarters of Hispanic adults have not heard the term Latinx.³ ⁴ We take into consideration both our partners and their audiences when deciding whether to use Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx.
2. Country of origin. 50% of Hispanic people identify themselves by their country of origin rather than Hispanic or Latino.⁴ Mexicans top the chart in terms of country of origin at 41.6 million people; Puerto Ricans are next at 6 million, followed by Salvadorans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Guatemalans. Even that list doesn’t encompass all of the diverse countries of origin of Hispanics in America. Country of origin is a strong determinant of buying patterns, Spanish usage, and cultural practices. Puerto Ricans are considered the most acculturated to mainstream American culture; they don’t practice as many Hispanic cultural traditions as other groups and prefer to speak English. Cubans, on the other hand, have the highest prevalence of Spanish preference, recent migration to the United States, and cultural practices.⁶ By segmenting an audience according to country of origin, marketers demonstrate investment and can form a genuine connection with that community.
3. Generation. Foreign-born Hispanic Americans will have different values than those of a higher generation. The share of Hispanics in the U.S. who are of a higher generation is growing; as of 2019, 30% of the 60.6 million Hispanic people in the U.S. are in the third generation or higher.⁵ Identity ownership as a Hispanic individual also falls over generations: 97% of foreign-born people with Hispanic ancestry identify as Hispanic, versus 50% of fourth or higher generation people.⁴ Third and higher generations are also significantly less likely to identify by their country of heritage over Hispanic, Latino, or American.⁵
4. Age. By segmenting Hispanic audiences by age group, we gain a better understanding of a specific audience’s profile. Over a quarter of Gen Z identify as Hispanic; Millennials aren’t far behind. That’s a stark contrast to Boomers, of whom only 10.4% identify as Hispanic. This tells us that the Hispanic demographic as a whole is young, but also that we can align what we know about Hispanic audiences with insights into generational audiences. In addition, brand loyalty is reflected in the age of Hispanic audiences: those over 45 are much more loyal than younger Hispanic people.⁶
5. Language. 45% of Hispanics say speaking Spanish is essential to the meaning of their identity⁵ and in 75% of Hispanic households a language other than English is spoken. That’s a stark contrast to American non-Hispanic households, of which only 12% practice a language other than English.⁷ Evidently, Spanish is a prime access point to the Hispanic audience. But as multicultural experts, we know that successful branding is not as simple as translating a page—and even that effort isn’t simple at all, with all of the attention that must be paid to connotation and wording. Yes, nearly ⅓ of Hispanic Americans are Spanish-dependent or bilingual with Spanish preferred.⁶ However, it’s important to keep in mind that nearly ⅓ of Hispanic households are multi-generational; that means that in the same house, there will be a mix of people across age groups and across immigration generations.⁷ Bilingual material that includes both English and Spanish will reach all audiences. We strategically consider the languages used, as well as the amount of space they hold on collateral, in all of our campaigns.
Hispanic audiences are not homogeneous. We are a diverse crowd. Some of us prefer English to Spanish and vice versa. Some identify as American over Hispanic. The key to connecting with and relating to Hispanic audiences is taking the time to invest in the audience. And here at The Colibri Collective, that’s what we pride ourselves on.
Melancon, J. M. (2021, August 11). Consumer Buying Power is More Diverse Than Ever. University of Georgia.
Wescott, P. (2021, August 12). California Latino Voters, the Majority Makers [PowerPoint Presentation]. California Latino Voters, the Majority Makers, Online Event.
McCarthy, J., & Dupree, W. (2021, August 4). No Preferred Racial Term Among Most Black, Hispanic Adults. Gallup.
Lopez, M. H., Krogstad, J. M., & Passel, J. S. (2020, September 15). Who is Hispanic? Pew Research Center.
Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2020, September 24) The ways Hispanics describe their identity vary across immigrant generations. Pew Research Center.
Claritas. (2020) The 2020 Hispanic Market Report. Claritas.
de Armas, Stacie M., Scott-Aime, M. (2019). La Oportunidad Latinx: Cultural Currency and the Consumer Journey. Nielsen.