As we celebrate another Hispanic Heritage Month, I asked a few industry leaders with decades of experience in Hispanic marketing to reflect on what has changed in the industry over the past two decades and what hasn’t. The conversation was so rich that I decided to break it into two different articles.
First, we hear from Daisy Expósito-Ulla, founder and CEO of d’exposito & partners, a NY-based multicultural agency. She has been one of our industry’s leading voices since the 1970s, with several leadership roles at major multicultural ad agencies and industry organizations.
“While many things have changed since I got into Hispanic marketing, it’s critically important that marketers take note of the long-term trends that, today, not only make the Hispanic market a business opportunity but a business imperative.
First, the last three Census counts (2000, 2010, and 2020) have consistently shown that Hispanics have accounted for about 50% of the total population growth over the thirty years. Closely linked to this is the fact that Hispanics and other multicultural segments continue to be THE leading growth opportunity for several business verticals and brands. Then there’s the ongoing importance of Latino culture and the Spanish language on individual identity and lifestyles. Hispanics are not assimilating and are holding on to culture and language more than ever. That’s led to new channels and platforms, digital and otherwise, for engaging Latinos in both languages but in a culturally relevant way. Despite these powerful trends, we still need to build a business case that convinces clients why they should be marketing to Hispanics with insightful strategies and culturally relevant creativity beyond cues and nuances.
As for what has changed, we now see Hispanics impacting life across the entire country and all facets of society. Several states now have multicultural-majority populations, and Latinos are driving the demographic makeup and/or population growth across all of them. The last two years have shined a spotlight on how Latinos not only have contributed significantly to life here in the U.S., but we are also helping to reimagine what it means to be American. And while we’ve had a deep bench of Latino luminary figures for decades, the new crop of Latino global superstars is unapologetically presenting themselves in ways that are 100% true to their cultural identity and language preferences.
Despite this wonderful progress and momentum, we’ve also seen an increasing number of brands reduce their Hispanic media budgets and utilize their broad media activity to engage Latinos with advertising and content that’s broad-based, universal insights with diverse casting and in English only. Luckily, we’re also armed with new, powerful research findings from Nielsen and AIMM that show cultural representation and relevancy in storytelling drives brand affinity and trust in a way that positively impacts lifting sales and ROI.”
Alex Lopez Negrete is the founder and CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications, a Houston-based multicultural agency. He’s also a leading voice in our market, and similarly to Daisy, he has played many leadership roles in our industry.
“What hasn’t changed is that Latinos in America have always contributed, shopped, and been loyal to brands significantly. Since the 1980s it was evident that if corporations in most industries wanted to grow, they needed to pay attention to this segment, to our community.
What HAS changed is that it’s no longer about growth – it’s about survival for those very same corporations. Something else that has changed is the level of sophistication of the data behind this fact. Oh, yes, and one thing that hasn’t changed is that marketers continue to acknowledge this data but find ways to ignore it and find ways to NOT spend on the opportunity.
As the Hispanic consumer has earned its rightful place as a principal contributor to the American economy and its proper place at the center of the New American Mainstream, marketers have demanded more and better tools to research, validate, measure, and discover. That HAS changed. Gone are the days when anecdotal information and points were the sole guide for business and creative strategies. However, the value of “the gut instinct” finely honed by experience and immersion remains a critical component that should not be discarded or discredited.
I’m happy and proud to say that the level of our craft, as marketers specializing in the Hispanic segment, has evolved and grown more sophisticated, profound, and smarter. In the early days of our industry, the Planning discipline was certainly not what it is today. We have a tremendous and profound crop of intelligent, intuitive, and well-trained account planners and strategists. In our early days, factoids were used as insights – but no more (at least, not the norm).
Another critical area where things haven’t changed and may not ever change, unfortunately, as we’ve seen over and over, is that when economic times get tough, instead of marketers’ leaning into and investing in the very segment that will help them grow and get through the lean times (yes, you guessed it, the Latino market), they pull back, re-prioritize, and cut Hispanic marketing budgets, investments and even agencies. They re-trench, keeping their ‘general market’ budgets as intact as possible, and hope that having a diverse casting approach for their mainstream work covers the hole. It won’t. This flawed approach to prioritization is as old as our industry is now, and that’s many years. That hasn’t changed”.
In my observations, the explosion of the Hispanic population over the past few decades also increased the sophistication required to effectively manage Hispanic marketing efforts. While marketers have access to more and better research, insights, and ROI analysis, some old habits like budget allocation and investment in subject matter experts, internally and on the agency side, still lag.
Hopefully, in the next Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, we can realize that we are making progress each year to make our industry more potent, effective, and influential.
SOURCE: Hispanic Marketing Industry Evolution (Part I) (forbes.com)