The Right Hispanic Reach

06 May 2004|Felipe Korzenny

“The right spend,” “the right investment,” or perhaps the expression “the right reach” is more suggestive. The question is “what is the right investment in Hispanic integrated marketing and communication efforts to effectively reach the Hispanic market?”

The US Bureau of the Census indicates that this year the official US Hispanic population estimate is of about 40 million. Then, despite the best efforts of the Bureau of the Census, reaching those who are undocumented in order to count them is illusory at best. That leaves an additional minimum of uncounted Hispanics of about 5 million people. Forty-five million US Hispanics represent approximately 15% of the total US population. Thus, in simple terms, in order to reach them, one should spend approximately 15% of one’s marketing budget.

The next issue is, of course, to decide how to allocate resources by media channel and by language of channel. While not a recipe, the following considerations should be made:

  • About 60% of Hispanics 18 years of age and older prefer to communicate in Spanish when given a choice. About 17% indicate not having a preference, and the rest prefer the English language. Clearly the proportions of those who have no preference and who prefer English are higher among younger people.
  • The vast majority of Hispanics expose themselves to media in both English and Spanish. Even if they made a concerted effort, those who prefer Spanish language media cannot escape the pervasiveness of English language media.
  • If a Hispanic is Spanish dominant, that does not mean s/he can not understand some basic English as a minimum.
  • Those who prefer communication in Spanish are more influenced by commercial messages in Spanish.
  • When exposed to English language media, messages are more effective if they are culturally relevant to the Hispanic consumer.
  • Thus, using both Spanish and English media channels in different mixes for the different acculturation levels of the market makes sense. The messages in the different languages need to be complementary and, fundamentally, they need to be culturally compatible. Clearly, specific product categories and brands need to make unique allocation decisions given their specific targets, consequently there is no one answer. The approach, however, should be a marketing plan that is free of dogma and cognizant of the subtleties of the Hispanic market in the inescapable context of the US.

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