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Language, Culture and Successfully Selling to the Hispanic Market

Written by mobd  |  17. March 2006

Effectively reaching the Hispanic consumer is in many ways a straightforward marketing challenge. You must know your market, which means:
* Segmenting prospects into appropriate niches
* Differentiating your product
* Being price competitive
* Communicating your message effectively
* Providing excellent customer care
* Knowing your competitors
While not an exhaustive list, you get the idea: basically you have all the same considerations you would for any target market. So why do so many businesses fail to be effective with the fastest growing demographic in the US? The most common answer I find is that marketers are taking short cuts that are sabotaging their efforts.
Language One of the first things companies do when trying to reach the Hispanic market is translate their promotional materials, ads, commercials and product descriptions into Spanish. Unfortunately this strategy is not enough not matter how accurate your translation. Companies must clearly define not only their message but also for whom it is intended. Why? The short answer - because Hispanics are not a uniform homogenous group. Are you catering to a Caribbean, Central American or South American target? Language can differ considerably across regions. And even if the language is regionally correct, is it culturally effective and relevant? A survey by the consulting firm Yankelovich shows that Hispanics recognize the importance of learning English while preserving Spanish. According to Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of Yankelovich, "Marketers need to use both languages in order to establish cultural and personal relevancy with the Hispanic consumer. Spanish is also the language of the heart and provides communication intimacy in brand messaging."
So the challenge is that you need to determine whether your marketing material, ads or commercials be in Spanish, English or both. Above all make sure to use resources or consultants with the required language and cultural experience. Do not rely on Web translation sites. These sites do not create accurate translations you can use without lots of work on your part. You may have heard of the classic translation faux pas of Colgate toothpaste and Chevrolet's Nova. In Spanish they translate into 'hang yourself' and 'it doesn't go'.
Culture You would probably differentiate a message for products or services intended for white females rather than males. The same strategy is required when targeting the Hispanic market. Hispanic females are not the same as Hispanic men. Are you missing opportunities because your message is not resonating with the right audience? Hispanic women are becoming a larger portion of the workforce, earning disposable income often on a par with Hispanic men. There are products and services that will be purchased primarily by Hispanic women so target them carefully if they are relevant to your business. An interesting and useful finding of the Yankelovich survey was that 87% of Hispanics "get a real sense of belonging from their family". So bear this in mind as you market your family oriented product or service.
For a more detailed whitepaper on 'Successfully Marketing to the Hispanic Community' contact me via email.

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