If you need evidence of the prominence and influence of Latinos in the United States, look no further than this year's Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention.
With both political parties showcasing their Latino "chops," each hosted keynote addresses from U.S.-born Latinos who are climbing up the political ladder. These were moments that brought me great pride--as my family is Dominican--and also highlighted a new reality you can apply to your business.
To put it simply: Now is the time for brands to recognize the importance of the Latino consumer.
Now don't get me wrong: Forward-thinking companies and brands have been implementing English and Spanish language Latino-targeted campaigns in above-the-line strategy and below-the-line programming for the past 10-plus years. I myself have activated Hispanic-focused campaigns for trailblazing brands like Pepsi and Heineken over the past decade.
However, I'm not talking about a standard, siloed approach to Hispanic marketing. I'm talking about an integrated, multi-year brand-marketing strategy and platform that integrates U.S. Hispanics into the mainstream target consumer base.
Let's check the data (from the 2010 Census).
- 50.5 million: The number of Hispanics in the United States as of April 1, 2010, which makes Hispanics the nation's largest minority.
- 43%: The percentage increase in the Hispanic population between 2000 and 2010.
- 132.8 million: The projected Hispanic population in the United States in 2050. That would make up approximately 30% of the nation's population by that date.
- Second: The worldwide ranking of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population worldwide as of 2010. Only Mexico (with 112 million) has a larger Hispanic population than the United States.
- $1.5 trillion: The projected Hispanic buying power in the United States in 2015.
Now, how can you make those numbers make sense to your company?
Understand that Hispanics are a social demographic.
Statistics are nice, but maybe you need more. This consumer base is large, but they're not actively engaged and can't move the all-important advertising needle, right? Not exactly.
According to Nielsen, U.S. Hispanics are highly engaged in their usage of smartphones, online video, social networking, and other types of entertainment. According to the study, Hispanics outpace all other ethnic groups in mobile downloads of music and photos, and are more likely than others to watch video online on their mobile phones.
Quite simply, Hispanics are geared to adopt new media and technologies faster than the rest of the U.S. population. This also leads you to ask the all-mighty question of "why?" Studies have shown that Hispanics are actually less likely to have high-speed Internet access at home and, in some cases, only have access the Internet via a mobile device. This positions Latinos at a unique crossroad of language, technology, and media that we as marketers must be mindful of because of their subsequent influence on current and future pop culture trends.
Learn that mobile is the key.
Please don't get confused by this data. Media companies are not seeding new technologies in Hispanic neighborhoods, and Apple is not beta testing their new hardware or software with a focus group of Hispanic Apple fanboys. Hispanics use the same technology as the rest of the country. The difference is that they are adopting it differently and more rapidly due to cultural and home conditions.
This rapid adoption rate is what makes mobile the "special sauce" for marketers. Geo-targeted mobile campaigns focused around email, SMS, check-ins, loyalty, and digital rewards or couponing (NFC anyone?) are all elements that are actively used by Hispanics and brands need to incorporate into their marketing pot.
Analyzing the "J.Lo Effect" of social influence.
When American Idol producers agreed to pay pop star Jennifer Lopez $12 million in 2010 to fill a judge's seat on the show's' 10th season, it was seen as a risky move. Lopez was a big name but, similar to the show, she wasn't exactly at the forefront of pop culture at the time. Her movie career was at a stalemate, she had no hit records on the radio, and she was cultivating an active home life with her children and then-husband Marc Anthony.
However, her signing re-energized her career and boosted the American Idol brand back into the spotlight. One can argue it changed the entire crowded reality TV show landscape.
Through a holistic approach, you too can tap into the Hispanic social influence and boost your brand's market position and bottom line, much like American Idol did with its reboot in 2010:
- Make it a priority. Incorporate Hispanic into your core strategy, not just as a part-time side project.
- Understand language and culture. Realize the prominent roles culture and language play when targeting this demographic. The mindset of "You say tomato, I say tomahto," doesn't work here.
- Know the nuances. There are noteworthy differences when it comes to targeting first- and second-generation Hispanics, as well as those who are acculturated and unacculturated. Know your brand target and speak to them accordingly.
We can't all sign Jennifer Lopez to a $12 million contract--nor do we need or want to--but if we're smart, we can create our own "J.Lo Effect" with a group that is larger and more engaged than any other demographic in the United States today and tomorrow.
Alex Frias has spent the last decade blending fast-growing brands with entertainment and lifestyle programming and is co-founder of Track Marketing Group, a brand experience agency based out of New York City. Prior to Track Marketing, Alex founded nocheLatina.com. @iamalexfrias