Understanding How to Target the Hispanic Market

This post is part of The PR Channel’s “Guest Blogger Series” featuring insights from Austin-based entrepreneurs and business leaders in areas integrated with PR (including marketing, sales, graphic design, web development and more).

By Fernando Labastida

The large and fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market has been intriguing marketers lately. This compelling video shows why: There are around 50 million Hispanics in the U.S., about one-fifth of the U.S. population. More significantly, Hispanics account for at least half of U.S. population growth.

These statistics show that the Hispanic market is fast becoming one of the most lucrative segments for marketers.

But how do you tap into that market? How will you craft your advertising, blogs, PR, social media and product positioning to appeal to the Hispanic market?

1.       Define the market segment

When targeting a specific market such as Hispanics, it’s not enough to say, “I’m going to market my product or service to U.S. Hispanics.” You’ve got to decide what particular segment of the market you’re going to target. When deciding on the segment, there are several variables you must consider:

a. Country of origin: Are you targeting Hispanics of Mexican origin; or Central Americans, South Americans, Brazilians? Each group is different. They have different musical and food preferences, they’re different culturally, and they even speak different types of Spanish (and sometimes even different languages. Brazilians speak Portuguese).

b. Language: If you’re trying to reach immigrants, then your marketing must be in Spanish. As noted above, there are important differences in types of Spanish spoken. For example, Cubans in Miami, or Puerto Ricans in New York, speak differently than immigrants from Northern Mexico. If you’re advertising beer to Mexican immigrants in Texas and California, don’t use a Puerto Rican spokesperson. Your advertising won’t work. If your desired reach is multi-generational, use English.

c. U.S. Born Hispanics: Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and other groups who were born in the U.S. are completely fluent in English, and feel more affinity culturally to U.S. values than to the values of their parents or grandparents’ country of origin. Take for instance, cable channels SiTV and MUN2 who use English programming to target English-speaking Hispanic youth. Using  Spanish language advertising, which sometimes airs on these channels, would be out of place.

d. Many others. There are many other segment considerations. For example, are you targeting women in the 35-45 age range who are married and have three kids? Are you targeting 16-25 year-olds who like hip-hop and have some disposable income? Demographic details need to be considered when tapping into the Hispanic market, as they are for any market.

Market segments are a good start, but it’s important to go even deeper. You need to get specific, and even granular, about your market such as with psychographics (refer to “Message Not Sticking: Time To Get Psycho, LuAnn Glowacz).

2.      Target a profile

It’s not enough to target someone according to their market segment and psychographics. You’ve got to target a real person. That’s your target profile.

Naomi Dunford, online marketing guru and owner of IttyBiz, said recently:

Write to one person. There are only two people in the conversation. You and the dude reading it. Never refer to your reader as part of a group. You are creating a mini relationship. You are WOOING. You are COURTING. The person you are courting does not like to feel that they’re part of some crowd. You don’t go up to a girl in a bar and say, “Many girls just like you feel that…”

3.       Interview your target profile

You might get lucky and find that one of your regular customers happens to be your ideal target profile. If you can identify a loyal, regular customer from your database that fits the criteria of your target profile, call that person up and ask if they’re willing to answer some questions for you!

Be honest and explain that you’re launching a new campaign to appeal to more customers like them. I bet they would be more than happy to oblige.

It’s best to interview in person or over the phone, and record the interview. That way you can pick up voice inflections that express emotions. This is far more effective than sending out a questionnaire.

Here are some core questions you should ask:

  1. Tell me about yourself (as much detail as possible).
  2. What problems were you trying to resolve when you became a customer of our company?
  3. What was it about our product that you liked? Tell me 5-7 things you like best.
  4. Out of the different problems or situations you were trying to resolve when you bought our product, what was the most important one?
  5. Out of all the different things you like about our product, what is the most important criterion for choosing our product?
  6. Once you focus on one problem, and the one criterion for choosing your product, then feed it back to your target profile. If it resonates with them, you’ve identified the ‘hot buttons’ of your target profile and you can use that in your marketing

4.      Document your target profile

With all the important demographic, segment, psychographic, and profile data, write a target profile sheet. Include the particular market segment within the Hispanic market you’re tapping (ie., Puerto Rican, Mexican-American), language, age, marital status, and the particular problems the target is trying to resolve and reasons they choose your product.

Have you found yourself struggling to target the Hispanic or other ethnic market? These practices should put you a step ahead of other marketers, and will give you a template to use for future campaigns.

Fernando Labastida has worked as a sales and marketing executive, both domestically and in the Latin American markets, for almost twenty years. He has a Master’s degree from the University of California at Davis, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He has worked at companies such as Vignette Corporation, Powered, Rainmaker, and Pervasive Software. Fernando opened the Latin American market for Pervasive Software, closing deals with top corporations in Mexico and Brazil. He is a happily married father of four children.

Fernando is the founder of Latin IT Marketing and the Austin Content Marketing Tweetup.

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2 Responses

  1. And I thought I knew a lot about target marketing!! Thanks for this Fernando. I love the idea of interviewing my customers and then wooing others just like them with well written one-to-one communication.

    Keep it coming!!

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