Understanding Hispanics Beyond Acculturation


With all the buzz around inclusion and diversity, many brands still miss the mark when it comes to reaching Hispanic consumers. As of the last U.S. Census[1], Hispanics make up 18% of the population and have $1.7 trillion in purchasing power, and yet the majority of Hispanics feel that brands don’t care about them. They’re often targeted only around Hispanic events like Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month. This is a significant missed opportunity. Understandably, it is much harder for brands to connect with this target in the future if they are made to feel like an afterthought today.

For brands that do consider this important demographic, a common mistake they make is using a one-size-fits-all approach when speaking to Hispanics. There is an assumption that all Hispanics are the same and they can be engaged in the same way.  But Hispanics are an extremely diverse population and understanding the cultural differences and nuances is instrumental in speaking to them in a meaningful way.

Some brands solely rely on acculturation when conducting research with Hispanics – that is, how assimilated Hispanics have become to American culture, including speaking English. This assumption needs to be supplemented with factors such as country of origin, religion, culture, family/household makeup, and even employers, which all help influence Hispanics’ identity. Oftentimes, screeners are too basic and fail to properly understand the nuances of their desired targets by solely focusing on language spoken at home or preferred language for media consumption. Hispanics, like all groups, are extremely multi-faceted and brands need to be as well.

Chirp helps our clients avoid these mistakes in three primary ways:

1. We encourage brands to consider this vital and growing population of Americans and include representation in both qualitative and quantitative research.

2. We clarify the segment within the Hispanic population that brands want to target. Is the goal to reach first-generation immigrants from Mexico City or Mérida? Is the target affluent ex-pats from Mexico or the lower middle class working in blue collar jobs? Is the audience acculturated or unacculturated? Beyond this, are they immigrants, bilingual, married, educated, have kids, live with extended family or alone, what social organizations do they belong to, etc.?

3. We provide bilingual moderation for sessions where we interact with consumers that speak both Spanish and English. This not only builds rapport with consumers but allows them to speak freely in their preferred language and jump back and forth between the two languages, as they often do in their daily lives.  

The Hispanic population in the U.S. is eager to be heard and wants to participate in the conversations shaping the American culture as a whole. Brands need to start approaching this audience in a more authentic way that goes well beyond Hispanic holidays. Continuous and consistent research is the key to understanding this diverse and influential market.

[1] Source: U.S Census Bureau, 2015