How to understand the Latinx market

April 20, 2017

In the United States today, the Latino population makes up the biggest minority group in the country. Nearly 55 million people identify as Hispanic according to the latest U.S. census. Additionally, six in ten Hispanics belong to the Millennial generation, which is having a powerful effect on socio-cultural views and redefining the Latinx identity (if you’re behind the times, Latinx is a gender neutral identity as an alternative to the binary of Latino or Latina). That’s a lot of fluidity and influence, not to be overlooked by marketers or nonprofits when it comes to engagement and support.

What the numbers mean

One in six people identify as Hispanic and that number continues to grow. This demographic alone makes up one of the top 20 economies in the world with a spending power of 1.5 trillion dollars. Yet, this group is not homogeneous. The Latino population is complex. According to the U.S. census bureau, 56.6 million people in the most recent census indicated that they were descendants of one or more Spanish-speaking countries – making Latinos an incredibly diverse group from a variety of cultures and histories.

So, that begs the question – how can nonprofits begin to understand the U.S. Hispanic market?

The short answer it’s not one “Hispanic market.” The long answer is that you can refer to what experts have found are the three unifying things that make up the Latino experience: family, loyalty and tradition.

Essential: Stories that connect

Marketers will tell you that the best way you can appeal to people is through stories especially stories viewers can connect with on a personal level. That’s why storytelling is so essential and why it’s doubly important when engaging with a particular demographic. What’s key is identifying your target audience. Look at this 2016 Coca Cola commercial below. Here, family is at the core of the story, hitting upon a common familial experience,  the relationship between a father and daughter. No words are spoken, but Coca Cola clearly hones in on a well-known tradition – a quinceañera – that will be familiar to many Latino families both here in the U.S. and in Mexico. Through the music, clothes, dance, setting and even the English/Spanish text on the coke bottle, they have carefully evoked an experience shared by Latinos both in the U.S. and abroad while not being overly obvious.

So, what can your organization do?

  • Assemble the right team. Hone in on creating a well-rounded team that understands the diversity of Latino experiences. Don’t just appoint someone who speaks Spanish (or is Latino) to head your Latino-targeted projects.
  • Don’t simply focus on language, but focus on culture and explore images or videos that reflect a distinct Latino experience or value. (Language is still important, but not everything.) And above all, be authentic – don’t tokenize.
  • Along the same lines, know your audience. What may resonate in Miami with Cubans may not work with Central Americans in L.A.
  • Never translate using Google or an online translation service, you need to capture the meaning of your message, not merely literal text.
  • Use technology. Mobile strategy is your friend – 80 percent of Latinos access the internet via a mobile device and among Latinos between the ages 18-29 that number is much greater, with 94 percent. Additionally, other platforms like YouTube represent opportunities for engagement using strategies like targeted advertising.

Except for Mexico, no other country in the world has more Latinos living within its borders than the U.S. Given that Latino Millennials are redefining socio-cultural norms and identities, it would be a mistake to ignore how Latinxs are transforming not only local communities, but the larger U.S. culture as well.

Marcela Gara