This article is part of SWOT Team, a series on Mashable that features insights from leaders in marketing, brand-building and public relations.
The United States, and its multicultural composition, is ever-changing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 54 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Representing approximately 17% of the total U.S. population, those of Latino origin are the nation's largest ethnic or race minority. By 2020, that figure is expected to grow to 31% as the numbers of Latinos in the U.S. more than doubles. Also by 2020, more than 50% of all U.S. consumers will be classified as multicultural.
And, in terms of marketing to this population, tactics need to change as well. CMO & EVP Brands at Moët Hennessy USA Jon Potter says that in order to effectively market to Latino consumers, "brands need to develop strategies that integrate them into part of brand."
When it comes to multicultural marketing, brands are facing some of the biggest challenges they have ever experienced, as technology changes consumer behavior.
Developing brand affinity and maintaining loyalty, especially amongst Latino consumers, is becoming the holy grail of growth and success, as those once classified as minorities become majorities. In order to connect with the U.S.'s largest and fastest growing consumer group, brands must develop better marketing tactics.
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Today, six in 10 Hispanic adults living in the U.S. speak English or are bilingual, Pew Research reports. Hispanics in the United States break down into three groups when it comes to their use of language: 36% are bilingual, 25% mainly use English and 38% mainly use Spanish. Because Latino consumers are bilingual, creating campaigns in both English and Spanish that speak to their values will help brands make the connections they seek.
"English is the language of business and entrepreneurship; do not market to Latinas/Latinos exclusively in Spanish," says Nely Galan, founder of the Adelante Movement. "Brands are missing the boat, as the number one goal of this consumer group is to be empowered — to build themselves, their families and their communities."
Using both languages will enable brands to establish better connections. Galan advises them to be careful to use a voice and values that are authentically portrayed.
"While many Latinos/Latinas love Sofia Vergara and Charo, most of us don't look or sound like them," she says. "They are unique talents not to be manufactured and cloned over and over to serve a vision of Latinos to non-Latinos."
"By not taking language and cultural values into context, we will not marginalize Latinos," Galan adds.
Latinos will choose which brands to give their money to based on a brand's ability to effectively communicate in ways that appeal to their lifestyles and cultural values — especially across digital channels. When it comes to in social media, mobile and e-commerce, Latinos lead in the adoption of new platforms or technology.
In a recent study, BIA/Kelsey found that Latinos outpace non-Hispanics in the use of social media.Latinos outpace non-Hispanics in the use of social media. The survey also found that Hispanics over-index in using mobile devices for local shopping: 23.6% of Hispanic consumers say they use tablets and 48.5% of Hispanics report using any kind of mobile device.
When it comes to social media channels that Latinos regularly use, 73% of them use Facebook, 34% use Instagram, 25% use Twitter, 21% use Pinterest and 18% use LinkedIn. Just like any consumer group, Hispanic consumers don't want to be sold to. When brands leverage social media to connect with Hispanic consumers, they should do so in engaging ways that play to cultural relevancy and heritage. Marketers need to ask themselves questions such as:
How does will resonate with the family values of my audience?
How will my audience feel like this a product/services/brand that will help them accomplish their goals?
Marketers must then go one step further and answer how those questions play out across video and mobile platforms. Then, take it another step further and develop a SEM strategy that leverages YouTube's Hispanic audience targeting and capitalizes on the growth of Spanish language search.
A great example of this was Hispanicize’s partnership with Wells Fargo to develop a YouTube series on Hispanic journalists. They produced the sessions with Latino students from the Miami Media School.
"This ongoing series on media entrepreneurship resonates strongly for Hispanic journalists at a time when many of them are literally redefining their careers and even experimenting with new business models," says Manny Ruiz, founder of the Hispanicize event and a former journalist turned media entrepreneur.
Last year, I wrote about how music is a critical millennial marketing tool. It's no different with Latinos, except when it comes to the genre.
For Latinos, there are several genres that marketers may focus on, but hip-hop is number one.
"Hip-hop has been a key part of our success," Potter says. "For Hennessy, we've continually created partnerships with culturally relevant influencers such as Nas and Manny Pacquiao."
Marketers should note that Moët Hennessy's campaigns have continually been devoid of traditional consumer segmentation. From their "Never Stop to Never Settle" to "What's Your Wild Rabbit?" campaigns, the group has bridged generational and cultural divides by leveraging hip-hop influencers such as Nas, Common, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beatz and Erykah Badu in order to connect with millennial audiences.
Nas' narration of the story of Malcolm Campbell, a caucasian 1930s car racer with a dark side, was one of the most successful components of the "What's Your Wild Rabbit?" campaign, Potter says. This iterated the importance of taking the issue of race out of the equation and focusing on the mediums that will drive the message, thus bringing about engagement.
"Hip-hop is big with Latino millennials," Galan adds. "Latino youth are looking for inspiration and stories, and they find a lot of resonance with hip-hop culture, as well as our own Latino music, world and culture."
Content and programming are critically important when it comes to effectively marketing to Latino consumers at a point where their shopping and digital behaviors are so intertwined. In fact, Hispanics are 25% more likely to follow a brand and 21% more likely to share content of a brand they trustHispanics are 25% more likely to follow a brand and 21% more likely to share content of a brand they trust, Pew reports.
"Content is a relatively untapped space and brands have an opportunity for creating meaningful content that speaks to the Hispanic audience," says Nonie Carson, a marketing specialist at Performics. “More so than language, one of the most important factors in reaching U.S. digital Hispanics is connecting advertising content to culture."
In the past, programming has largely been dominated by broadcast media. To circumvent this, creators turned to digital channels. In 2012, for instance, Latino-focused content producers arrived in full force, gaining massive traction with online viewers. Groups like MiTu, a multi-channel YouTube network, and Young California, a West Coast network of DJs and content creators focused on hip-hop, have developed loyal following with Latino and other communities.
While digital is starting to gain traction with millennial Latinos, other mainstream broadcast giants have already taken note of catering general programming to Latino audiences as well.
"We've seen the commercial success of series Modern Family, Cristela and Jane the Virgin," Galan says. "We've also seen the success of brand integration like the one Target did with Jane The Virgin. Latinos don't feel there's enough content out there for them and they're asking, "Where can we get it?"
Galan's advice for brands that create or integrate into Latino-focused programming is to make sure that they don't strip out cultural value. She also advises them to create content that is creative and resonant with Latino Americans, not to Spanish culture as a whole. Many marketers make the common mistake of thinking that Latino Americans are the same as Hispanic cultures found in Brazil or Spain. "There's a difference between Latin and Latin America," Galan says."There's a difference between Latin and Latin America," Galan says. "A chicano in East Los Angeles will trash something if it's not made for them."
As the influence of Hispanic culture grows, it's clear that marketers must make drastic shifts in their perceptions about how to market to groups that they may have once singled out as minorities. What's more, they must learn to build their marketing plans based on a series of cultural values and insights instead of more linear forms of data.
The evolving behavioral complexities of consumers across the U.S. is going to lead us to create deeper, more meaningful strategies that translate into successful consumer relationships across all product and company categories.