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  • Writer's pictureEstee Santoni

Avoid These Cringeworthy Mistakes When Speaking To Hispanic Consumers

With more than 62 million Hispanics in the U.S., their significance to advertisers has increased dramatically. No business can ignore them! They’re an incredibly powerful and important demographic that is only going to continue to grow. If you’re a business owner, learn about the Hispanic consumer and find out what they value most.

Below I share three tips to help you connect with this powerful consumer audience.

1. Understand the language being used among Hispanic audiences.

It’s not just Spanish being spoken. Six out of 10 Hispanic consumers are bilingual speaking both English and Spanish. Some have adopted a more “Spanglish” sound, mixing both languages together—more casual and conversational. Understanding this can help you tailor your messaging to be more aligned with them. If you’re translating your campaign, count on an experienced Spanish translation company. A properly translated campaign can work wonders for the brand because remember, not all Hispanic groups speak in the same way. Just like English in the U.S. vs. English in the U.K., it's not the same. You’ll need to understand the nuances between different countries and their languages. You could inadvertently offend someone with the use of certain words or phrases, or assumptions of how they may speak or sound.

You may recall back in ’97 Taco Bell commercials featured a talking Chihuahua as their mascot saying “You quiero Taco Bell.” Having a dog speak in a stereotypical Mexican accent offended many Mexican-Americans resulting in them denouncing the brand and calling for a boycott. Even with it offending so many, they went on to use that messaging for another three years!

Another mistake was in a hugely successful ad campaign back in the early 90s for the California Milk Processor Board, “Got Milk?” I’m sure you remember it. They were so successful in the U.S. that they decided to take it across the states, and eventually into Mexico. One problem though… the literal Spanish translation for “Got milk?” is ¿Tienes leche?, which reads as, “Are you lactating?” Thankfully they caught the fail early enough and shifted the messaging.

Point is, always do your homework when incorporating Spanish or “Spanglish” in your branding, or hire someone with a strong familiarity with the Hispanic consumer you’re targeting to vet these messages before you put them out there.

2. Serve the Hispanic customer throughout their entire journey.

If your brand creates an ad campaign targeting the Hispanic consumer, then make sure you’ve got a comprehensive marketing plan in place that includes Spanish language landing pages, Spanish-speaking employees, and other promotional material in their language creating a seamless experience for those consumers. The consistent messaging will prove to them your commitment.

And speaking of commitment, if you’re looking to target the Hispanic consumer, don’t just “talk” to them during Hispanic Heritage Month and go off the grid for the rest of the year. For starters, let’s understand why HHM is even celebrated. Back in the 60s, President Lyndon B. Johnson established Hispanic Heritage Week. Then President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a whole month (September 15 – October 15). And it’s split over the two months because it’s tied with the Independence Day celebrations for several Central American countries.

As Hispanic Heritage Month has become a staple for many companies to celebrate, there seems to be a perception that it is beginning to look opportunistic and causing more harm than good. To address this, make sure your efforts are aligned with the community’s needs, make sure your team is diverse and inclusive, and plan to launch a long-term program that connects with the consumer or audience’s needs and struggles.

The NFL was super successful with their “ Feel the Orgullo” campaign where they developed an online movement about Hispanic Heritage Month, created a documentary featuring Hispanic football players, and launched social media contests encouraging fans to share pride in their culture.

Teaming up with an expert in this field can help guide you and your team as you look for ways to connect with the Hispanic community.

3. Build a brand Hispanic consumers are eager to support.

The Hispanic market is the largest consumer market in the U.S., representing $1.9 trillion in buying power. This highlights the importance of brands creating a multicultural brand strategy. The Hispanic consumer is seeking brands they trust, and ones that align with their values. Create memorable experiences and messaging that resonate with your Hispanic consumer, and maintain those experiences well past date of purchase and you’ve got a loyal customer.

And if you don't know what to create or how to do it, reach out to a company or a team of experts who can point you in the right direction. You've got this!

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