Targeting the U.S. Hispanic Market


We don’t have to look far these days to see where companies, professionals, and even politicians are going wrong when it comes to the U.S. Hispanic market. Mitt Romney provided enough proof last November when he not only failed to recognize this critical voter demographic—73 percent of which voted for President Obama—but also alienated them by speaking out against the issues near and dear to the population’s heart (immigration law, to name just one).


Romney’s oversights are just one example of the disconnect between the nation’s growing Hispanic population and the entities attempting to engage them. That challenge isn’t going away:  according to the most recent U.S. Census numbers, the size of the Hispanic population segment reached 52 million in 2011, making them the nation’s largest ethnic minority. Hispanics constitute 16.7 percent of the nation’s total population, and that number is expected to reach 132.8 million by 2050, or 30 percent of the population.
That growth translates into opportunities and roadblocks for direct marketers wishing to target the widest possible swath of consumers. On one hand, Terra’s 2012 Hispanic digital consumer study by comScore found that Hispanic consumers spend more time on the Internet across all screens (8.7 hours daily) and on mobile phones (4.1 hours). They currently possess $1 trillion in buying power, and that amount will increase to $1.5 trillion by 2015.
On the other hand, Hispanics spend less time watching TV (8.3 hours vs. 10.9 for non-Hispanic consumers)—a fact that could impact DRTV’s effectiveness as a introductory or educational selling tool. On a positive note, online video could help marketers fill that gap, since these consumers spend 68 percent more time watching video on the Internet, and 20 percent more time watching video on their mobile phones than non-Hispanics.
The U.S. Hispanic market also exhibits distinct product consumption patterns and doesn’t purchase in the same way that the general market does. For example, Hispanic households spend more per shopping trip than their non-Hispanic counterparts, according to Nielsen. That fact alone should push marketers to strategize about getting more of their products into each shopping basket, rather than putting the emphasis on multiple sales over time.
That and any other market-specific strategies should be part of a long-term plan of action for reaching and working with the Hispanic market. The population’s growth projections, buying prowess, and purchasing habits make it especially attractive for direct marketers willing to put time and effort into the initiative. Important points to keep in mind include the fact that even Hispanics who are fluent in English enjoy Spanish-language TV, radio, and print media, and that the target audience is non-homogenous and comprises both native-born individuals who have lived exclusively in the U.S. and immigrants.
The good news? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. While the Hispanic market may be new and mysterious to some, there are organizations that do Hispanic marketing in the U.S. very well; look at the companies that are already successful at cross-cultural marketing and borrow a few pages from their playbooks. General Mills, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Kraft, PepsiCo, and the American Heart Association are just a few of the major corporations that are known for Hispanic-focused advertising campaigns. Follow their leads by making a commitment to this growing market, recognizing its value, and making it a factor in your company’s overall success.

Tim Hawthorne is the founder and CEO of Hawthorne Direct, a full-service brand response agency based in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Iowa.