Understanding and Advertising for the Hispanic American Market

The Hispanic American market is comprised of 39.9 million people, which makes it the largest minority market- with 13.7% of the US population (excluding Puerto Rico). This population is less educated than others with only 57% of adults over 25 holding a high school degree and only 11% holding an advanced degree. This lack of education however, does not prevent many from a higher quality of life as the median income $32,997 but many (22.5%) live at or below the national poverty level. Hispanic American households tend to be slightly larger- the average household is 3.52 people-, which accounts for the elevated percentage of spending on food and household products. The growth rate of this population is 4.7%, it is projected that by 2050 there will be more than 102.6 billion Hispanic-Americans in the United States (www.infoplease.com)

This population spent $531 billion last year, with those number expected to rise by 9.1%- which surpasses the national average of 6%. This growing and young population (65% of Hispanic-Americans are under 35) prefers to speak Spanish, 68% speak Spanish at home. But are responsive to English advertising as well. This is a diverse population; origins include Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, Spain, and the Caribbean Islands. While language differences are subtle. Cultural differences including history, values and even their music, their food, and the sports they like will differ depending on their country of origin. (http://www.infotoday.com/mls/may03/howto.shtml) Advertisers need to be in tune to these differences, else risk alienating segments of the population. Translation requires careful review, for example: a well-publicized campaign by the California Milk Producer Board in the ’90s found that “Got Milk?” literally translates into Spanish as “Are you lactating?” (http://www.nfib.com/object/3986214.html)

Hispanics value a relationship and will remain loyal to brands and retailers that nurture these relationships. They are price-conscious, but will pay premium prices for high perceived value, especially for automobiles, clothing and accessories “There are great opportunities for the retail market, too, because Hispanics typically like to look nice.” Mike Robinson, La Verdad/Hispanic Marketing Solutions.(http://www.bizjournals.com/) Spending in the personal electronics industry is also on the rise, Knowledge Networks/SRI found that Hispanics are more likely to own a PDA, DVD player, home theater, and digital satellite television service compared to non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans.

Reaching the Hispanic American market is best done through Spanish language television advertisements or through English television ads. Hispanics households watch over 57 hours of television per week (www.nielsenmedia.com) Direct mail advertising is an excellent way to reach Hispanic markets, according to Mike Robinson of La Verdad, 78% of Hispanics open and read direct mail, while a full 30% would like to receive even more. Direct mailing also allows the opportunity to advertise in both English and Spanish. Mainstream newspaper advertising would be folly as a small percentage of Hispanics read mainstream newspapers. Word of mouth, attendance at and sponsor ship of cultural festivals and developing community relationships are key to building a strong position within this market. Advertising on Spanish radio may also be advantageous, as Spanish radio stations enjoy a 10% market share (www.highbeam.com)

Purchasing trends vary throughout the Hispanic communities; urban Hispanics purchasing patterns dovetail closely with African-American trends, while suburban Hispanics purchasing habits are close to that of mainstream America. The only universal exception appears to be in the food industry where Hispanics purchase a higher percentage of bulk food and “from scratch” ingredients (Procter and Gamble)

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