Professional Jeweler Archive: The Majority Minority

April 2005

Cover Focus | Ethnic Markets: Hispanic Americans


The Majority Minority

Understand Hispanic cultural differences and dialects to attract this growing market

By Ellen Fruchtman


Hispanics make up 14% of the U.S. population and their numbers have grown 85% to 41 million since 1990, compared with growth of only 18% for the general population. Hispanics overtook blacks as the country’s largest minority group in 2001, and the U.S. Census Bureau says the Hispanic population will grow to 103 million by 2050, when they’ll make up nearly 25% of the U.S. population.

Hispanics are responsible for almost $700 billion in consumer spending, accounting for 9% of total U.S. disposable personal income, according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. By 2007, the spending power of Hispanics will grow to $926 billion, forecasts the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

But be warned: attracting these shoppers is not as easy as uno, dos, tres.

For one thing, you’re not alone. Hispanic-targeted advertising more than doubled to $3.4 billion from 1997 to 2003, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Coca-Cola, for example, says Hispanics are one of Coke’s three most important growth segments, along with young people and Baby Boomers. And there are more outlets now for Hispanic-directed advertising, including 67 Spanish-language cable networks, from ESPN Deportes to The History Channel en Espanol.

Lost in Translation

English doesn’t always translate to Spanish exactly. If you want to run ads in Spanish, hire a professional translator who can interpret the words and the proper connotation of the message. Keep in mind that Hispanic consumers speak in different dialects. Mexicans speak a different dialect than Puerto Ricans and Cubans. So even if you hire a professional to translate your advertising, it’s vital that this individual use “generic” terminology that will sound right to Hispanics from a cross-section of cultures.

While it’s a sign of respect to produce your materials in Spanish, most Hispanics in the U.S. do speak English, so it’s not critical.

Focus on Family

Understanding Hispanic cultural differences will do more to advertise effectively than having ads in Spanish. For example, family is extremely important in the culture, and often everyone from grandparents to grandchildren are involved in decision-making processes. Multigenerational households are also more prevalent in this market than among the general population. Images in your advertising should reflect this. “Family is always first,” writes Juan Faura, a Hispanic marketing executive and author of The Whole Enchilada: Hispanic Marketing 101. “Family means your mom and dad and brothers and sisters and second cousins and cousins of your aunt’s husband’s sister and aunts of your mom’s second cousin Dionisia from Veracruz.”

Advertising Works

Nielsen Media Research reports 71% of Spanish-language television viewers say they receive information relating to their purchasing decisions from commercials vs. 30% of non-Hispanics watching English television. Hispanic viewers are three times as likely as non-Hispanic viewers to discuss advertisements with others. Hispanic marketers say that’s because they haven’t been sold to as aggressively. Nielsen says predominantly Spanish-speaking Hispanics are 16% more brand-loyal than their non-Hispanic counterparts. If your goal is to increase sales to this growing consumer powerhouse, the time and effort you take to understand this market will be well worth it.

Jennifer Lopez at this past fall’s New York Fashion Week. This spring, she introduced her second apparel line. She’s wearing all white metals – one study shows Hispanics prefer platinum more than the general population.

Ellen Fruchtman is founder and president of Fruchtman Marketing, Toledo, OH. Contact Fruchtman at (800) 481-3520, ellen@fruchtman.com, www.fruchtman.com.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications