Multicultural Marketing 101: Marketing to the Latin Market

It’s no secret that the United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Traditionally, America has been called the “melting pot” due to its strong history of immigration.  The plurality of people’s backgrounds does not go unrecognized. But we consider the United States to be more like a salad bowl than a true melting pot. Just like the separate ingredients that go into a tasty salad, America’s growing multicultural markets all maintain their uniqueness and individuality.

One community that has had a profound impact in the media is the Hispanic community. Radio, television, print, the Internet and advertising have all dramatically increased their Spanish language programming and outreach recently. This community is also a significant (and growing) part of the U.S. population. As of July 2011, the Latin American population reached 52 million and constituted 16.7 percent of the nation's total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If marketers hope to connect with this growing audience, they must understand the nuances and differences between the different cultures.

NBa or éne•bé•a?

Language preferences play a huge factor in the decisions, and ultimately, the (media) consumption for the Latin community. The NBA recognized the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States but viewership for this group remained stagnant for some time. In an effort to address this problem the NBA launched its first Spanish website, éne•bé•a in 2009.  

The most important take-away that primary research unearthed was that this community was bilingual. Previously, nba.com/español was targeted at Spanish speakers only. By focusing exclusively on this community, the league failed to create a relationship with its larger bilingual audience.

Despite the nba.com/español option, the majority of Latin-American viewers were receiving their information from the English-language site, nba.com. The NBA recognized that the launch of éne•bé•a needed to have bilingual content. Also, it was important to make this consumer feel recognized and appreciated, but not separated. They want to feel included.

The new éne•bé•a site has articles and videos in both Spanish and English. Additionally, it highlights NBA players who have Latino roots. The launch of the website also included the creation of the éne•bé•a Twitter and Facebook page.

The new campaign was successful. Results showed that from December 2011–March 2012, Hispanic viewership of NBA games increased 10% to slightly less than 10.4 million, compared to the previous year. Currently, the éne•bé•a Twitter account has more than 10,000 followers and the Facebook page has 440,000 likes.

Latin Americans and Social Media

According to a recent eMarketer study, Latin Americans are more active than other ethnicities on social media. Facebook and Twitter are the most frequently visited sites by this demographic.

However, in Spain, Tuenti is more popular than Facebook. It is a private, invitation-only website for students and young people. Facebook is aimed at a global audience, while Tuenti’s goal is to remain a small-scale regional social network.

It should be no surprise that Latin Americans are actively engaging on social networks. The culture places a huge emphasis on the value of maintaining relationships with family members. Social networks such as Facebook and Tuenti make this easier.

Hispanics Impact Online

According to the State of Spanish Language Media (2011), for Facebook and MySpace, Hispanics make up 14.5% and 16%, respectively, of their user base; figures relatively representative of the US population as a whole. However, according to the Advertising Bureau (IAB), only about $300 million was spent on Hispanic marketing initiatives out of a total projected $25 billion spent on online advertising last year. The IAB also concluded that Hispanics are “aggressive early adopters.” So why aren’t more companies targeting this audience?

Procter & Gamble is an example of a U.S. company tapping into this trend and creating a Spanish language website and online content. They launched a bilingual website that targets Hispanic women and creates a virtual community. The website www.orgullosa.com (“proud” in Spanish) offers beauty and household tips, as well as inspirational stories and information about their products. It’s designed to empower Hispanic women and celebrate their biculturalism.

Traditional media outlets are no longer the most effective marketing targets to reach this engaged and exciting audience. The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies found that if over a five year span a company allocates one quarter of its overall ad spending to Hispanic media it would see an annual revenue growth of 6.7%. That’s a statistic marketers can’t afford to ignore.

What has your organization done to target this population? What companies do you believe are doing it well?


Published March 18, 2017.
Categories: Marketing