Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Target Hispanic buying power



Hispanics, the largest minority in this country, have significant buying power. According to the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth, Hispanic buying power will increase to $1.5 trillion in 2015, representing nearly 11 percent of the nation's total buying power.

Hispanic marketing expert Laura Sonderup points out that 56 percent of Latino adults respond best to advertising when it is presented in Spanish. Hispanic respondents may outwardly reject ads that are mere translations of English-language advertising, as the setting and behaviors do not usually reflect Hispanic culture, daily life and values. Even worse, many ads are written poorly, with incorrect Spanish words, literally translated from the English language. For instance, Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer from diarrhea."

The most important element for a Hispanic ad campaign is to understand what is important to Hispanics and to send that message with the correct language. According to Sonderup, radio is the most effective medium in targeting Hispanics, as many listen to the radio all day. But small newspapers—which can deliver news and information "specifically geared to the needs and concerns of individual minority communities"—are also very good for ads targeting Hispanics.

While most of us hate junk mail, Sonderup notes that "Hispanic households are 3.5 times more likely to respond to a direct mail solicitation than a non-Hispanic household. Seventy-two percent of Hispanics always read junk mail." Despite this fact, most junk mail is in English.

Effective ads targeting Hispanics should have the following key elements:

( Sense of humor and cartoon characters like the "familia Burron" or "Mafalda" catch the attention of viewers, and draw them into the story of the ad.

( Music that captures the Hispanic sentiment as "Amanecíen Tus Brazos," "Cielito Lindo," "Sabor a Mi" and "La Malagueña" are Mexican songs we all have close to our hearts. They communicate a powerful message and persuade the buyer.

( Legendary Latin American scenery like the Lago Titicaca in Peru/Bolivia may be an effective way to target diverse Hispanic groups.

( Bright, intense colors typical of the Latin cultures; oranges, pinks, greens, reds and yellows are highly effective when trying to attract the attention of Hispanics. Pastels, blacks and whites are ineffectual.


( Celebrities are very effective, in particular boxers and soccer players. Use caution to use the right players for a specific targeting group. Don't use a Mexican soccer player for your ad if you are targeting the Cuban population in Florida.

( Hispanics are brand loyal and it is easy to see this when I visit the Mexican stores. Mexican stores have the brands Hispanics grow up with: Nestle, Nido, Ibarra, Coronado, Barcel, Bimbo, Ricolino, Coca-Cola, Barrilitos, Mazola, Modelo, Roma detergent, etc.

You may not be able to compete with these established brands and their products, but you can always distribute them in your part of the world. What is more, there are lots of opportunities in the Hispanic market.

It is very hard to find good corn or flour tortillas in Idaho. Tortillas need to be fresh and hot when delivered. Plastic packaging makes them hard and flavorless.

Mexican cheese is another exploitable product category for the U.S. market. Mexico has some of the best cheeses: Oaxaca, ranchero, fresco and Chihuahua (made by the Mexican Mennonites). The ones I can buy locally could be greatly improved in taste, consistence, appearance and smell.

Bread or pan dulce is another potential product for the Hispanic market. Mexican pan dulce is at its best when is fresh, soft, warm and made with pure cane sugar. The bread sold in the local Mexican stores can lack freshness or quality.

Besides food, another business opportunity is to create better-managed Mexican stores. Most of the stores in Idaho are poorly organized and not consistently supplied, prices are missing on most of the items and the products are not always fresh (except the well-known brands I mentioned above).

Most Mexican restaurants have a great opportunity to expand their menus. Mexico and other Latin American countries are rich in gourmet dishes hard to find in America, like chalupas, tortas ahogadas, pescado a la Veracruzana, pulpos en su tinta, mole poblano, chiles en nogada, birria, cabrito, empanadas, parrilladas and so on. Idaho restaurants could also cater to Mexican fiestas with traditional party dishes like carnitas (pork meat), barbacoa (sheep meat), birria (goat meat) menudo (tripe) and pozole in larger quantities.

Hispanics are part of America and they are here to stay. It is great news, because Hispanics are rich in food variety, culture, traditions and creativity. These attributes combined with American entrepreneurship, organization and business sense could form an unbeatable team capable of meeting the demands of the growing Hispanic market in the United States and around the world.

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