Is Marketing In Spanish Still Relevant To Hispanics?


Author: Isaac Mizrahi. Source: Forbes

By now, we know all about the dangers of “fake news,” but there’s another form of false information, the concept of “fake trends,” that marketers should be aware of since these can have a negative impact on business strategies. We are witnessing one of them right now when it comes to Hispanic marketing.

The “fake trend” goes like this: Since the Hispanic population growth in the U.S. has been shifting from immigration-based to U.S.-born-based, the need to reach out to this segment from a marketing standpoint should also shift, and young Hispanic Millennials and Gen Zers would tend to culturally assimilate to the broader general market target. As a result, brands may not need to create culturally driven and Spanish-language campaigns to connect with Hispanics any longer. So one strategy, one message, one language would fit all. False.

On the surface, the above narrative makes sense, since we know Hispanic immigration has indeed slowed down, and we all have seen several data points demonstrating that more young Hispanics are speaking more English and consuming media in English. At a time where CMOs are under significant pressure to cut their budgets and find efficiencies, the idea of limiting or simply eliminating Multicultural Marketing efforts in favor of one single Total Market, a one-size-fits-all approach is tempting.

But is it true? Is it better for business?

First, let’s tackle the idea that there are fewer Spanish speakers in the U.S. than a few years or decades ago. This is simply not true. According to the U.S. Census data, the number of Spanish speakers in the country has been continuously growing since 1980, from an estimated 10 million to 15 million in 1990, 25 million in 2000, and 37 million in 2015, and it is estimated to reach up to 41 Million in the next 3 years.  So, while the relative number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics may be decreasing due to the growth of U.S.-born Hispanics, the absolute number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics keeps growing.

Second, is advertising in Spanish relevant or effective? Over the past few months, we have seen further proof of the power of the Spanish language to drive higher effectiveness within U.S. Hispanics’ marketing efforts.

For example, in October 2016, Facebook released the results of their “Facebook IQ” study conducted by Latinum Network. The study investigated 500 Hispanics from different language usage backgrounds (English-dominant, bilingual, and Spanish-dominant), complemented by in-depth interviews.

The study had several conclusions, of which we highlight the following:

• 80% of U.S. Hispanics don’t feel they need to stop speaking Spanish to be part of the American culture.

• 86% of respondents believe the Spanish language helps them remain connected to their culture.

• Ads targeting Hispanics in Spanish significantly increase their interest in purchasing products.

• When online, more than 80% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics use Spanish at least half of the time when they read, write or watch videos.

• 79% of Spanish-dominant, 82% of bilingual, and 60% of English-dominant Hispanics surveyed on this research think brands should reach out to consumers in both English and Spanish.

• 58% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics and 48% of bilingual Hispanics think that brands that reach out to the segment in Spanish demonstrate they value the Hispanic community.

Furthermore, the Facebook IQ study also mentions that Hispanic consumers don’t want to be exposed to mere translations of messages from English to Spanish; they want to receive messages that reflect their culture, and this message should also be reflected when casting actors who speak Spanish, with the usage of humor, and in situations that consumers can relate to from a cultural standpoint.