With expansive buying power and unique consumption habits, the Hispanic community is an emerging super-consumer force in the US and a key contributor regarding economic growth, labor force, and electorate impact. 

Between 2010 and 2019, Hispanic buying power increased by 69%. Due to this trend, many businesses are now considering adjusting marketing strategies to ignite consumer loyalty and cater for this growing demographic. 

But there are many factors to consider when establishing buyer personas and marketing to today’s digitally-savvy Hispanic audience: the differences between Hispanics and Latinos, regional distinctions, generational gaps and important cultural dates, and marketing channel preferences or quirks. So, let’s jump in.

Hispanic Versus Latino

When marketing to Hispanics or Latinos, the differences between the terms assume great importance. Hispanic is a term that generally refers to the people and culture from Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Latino or Latinx, the gender-neutral term, refers to those generally born in Latin America and living in the US specifically.

So, what is typically Hispanic? Although there are certain traditions or cultures where parallels can be drawn, the Hispanic element is just one part of a buyer persona and it is not enough to guide marketing efforts. It is a very diverse demographic and, after all, Hispanics come from 16 countries. Instead, buyer personas should be built around people’s interests. 

Two Hispanic second-generation millennial adults may connect over their immigrant grandparents from Mexico and Colombia. It is the cultural signals and interests, such as food and family traditions, that resonate with the US Hispanics online, regardless of language. Company calendars centered around important national holidays in Latin America, and websites and ads with culturally relevant elements would drive engagement. 

There’s no marketing tool specifically used to target Hispanics, and there’s no way of telling if an individual customer is Hispanic or Latino without knowing them. But research tools – Facebook Audience Insights, Google Ads Keyword Planner, or SEMrush for competitor data – find out what your audiences’ interests are, their geolocation, and what platforms they use. And with that information, you can target specific audiences regarding interests over Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google, and Twitter ads. 

English, Spanish, or Spanglish

Another aspect to consider is that Hispanics might search in English but Latinos, residing in the US, may search in Spanish. Given the audiences’ bilingual nature, marketers can reach the US Hispanic and Latino market, and have a competitive advantage by leveraging ad campaigns with both English and Spanish terms. 

It should be highlighted that 40% of Hispanics are likely to live in multi-generational households where 73% speak Spanish. When acquiring a service online, Hispanic second-generation millennial behavior can differ from their parents, who don’t necessarily speak English. Therefore, ads and blogs could be outsourced to a bilingual digital marketing agency or a language services provider to have content written in Spanish to better target a whole Hispanic household. 

However, bear in mind that an American company targeting a Hispanic audience specifically,  without any ties to Hispanic culture, could destroy its credibility. Hispanics can be offended by Spanglish copy or campaigns with broad stereotypes. Latinos, however, could view the generalizations as nostalgic memories. As a rule of thumb, avoid idioms, jargons, and acronyms which can impede effective communication as some are rooted in negative connotations.

Just because they have a Hispanic surname, doesn’t mean they act like Latinos from a cultural standpoint, and just because they were born in the US doesn’t mean they think and act like Americans from a purchasing standpoint.

Marketing Channels 

Already in 2014, Latinos were spending more time online than their non-Latino counterparts, and their purchasing decisions were influenced by internet content. Yet, Latinx audiences are still consistently separated from marketing strategies.

As there are 10 million more US Hispanics on WhatsApp than Instagram, and almost triple more than Twitter, marketers should be following their unique behavior and exploring a range of channels to effectively reach this audience. 

As a small business, you may communicate through email or Instagram instead of WhatsApp as it is viewed as a B2C channel. But a WhatsApp Business account is appropriate for the B2B market. Although, WhatsApp’s popularity may plummet after the privacy and security update scandal this year. Most importantly, consider automation tools, such as Messagebird and Respond.io, where you can combine different channels and messages from Instagram DMs to FB Messenger. 

“Hispanic” and “Latino” represent someone’s background or culture, but it is not a buyer persona or a target audience. This is important to address during your strategy development and marketing approach as, for every marketing pro, you need a clear focus and niche to provide a successful service. 

Alex Hollander is the CEO of TRIBU, a digital growth consultancy based in Medellin, Colombia. He is passionate about helping companies scale their businesses online using performance-based digital marketing. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Hispanic customer stock photo by Chaay_Tee/Shutterstock