By Lee Vann / Capture Group
The difference between connecting and pandering to your Hispanic consumer is a fine line. When you reach out to Hispanics solely for your needs and with little authenticity (soccer balls and Mariachis everywhere!), you’re pandering. When you reach out to address mutual needs in an authentic way, you’re connecting. Awareness of this difference can mean gaining the loyalty of your audience versus being an object of ridicule, as politicians from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, as well as major brands have learned.
So, what can you do as a brand to connect with U.S. Hispanics without pandering — Hispandering — to them?
There is no magic formula, but these essential guidelines will help you land on the proper side of that fine line.
1. Realize that Hispanics are a diverse demographic. While most U.S. Hispanics are of Mexican descent — 63.4% of the total U.S. Hispanic population — this demographic represents other countries and regions as well, from Puerto Rico and Cuba down to Central and South America. For your campaigns to connect successfully with their audience, you will need to tap into the regional cultural nuances of your target. In effect, think multiculturally when targeting Hispanics.
2. Embrace the new Hispanic segmentation. Due to the growth and integration of Hispanics in American life, language-based segmentation is insufficient to understand, and ultimately connect with U.S. Hispanics. A new segmentation model looks in detail at the culture, attitude and values of today’s Hispanics, resulting in four new market segments. Understanding the new segmentation will help you sharpen your communication with your audience — optimized communication for optimized results!
3. Communicate in a genuine way with your audience. Another way to say this is, make sure you have the “moral authority” to speak to your audience in the way you do. From copy to visuals, your tone and voice should reflect your brand and treat your audience respectfully. Hillary Clinton’s “abuela” communication backfired because it was neither genuine nor did she have the proper level of trust from Hispanics (i.e., the moral authority) to compare herself to a traditional Hispanic grandmother. A brand needs to slowly gain the loyalty of its audience by being authentic and respectful in its communication. Your Hispanic consumers will reciprocate your respect with their loyalty.
4. Test your idea with Hispanics first. Working with a pan-Hispanic team and testing your campaigns with Hispanic focus groups will help you identify and resolve communication issues and test regional cultural and language nuances. In effect, a culturally focused message yields a deeper connection with your audience.
5. Leverage the authenticity of influencers. Leveraging a Hispanic influencer in your campaign is like having your mutual friend introduce you to the group. Besides their reach, influencers can help give your brand authenticity and gain the trust of your audience. A friend of theirs is a friend of ours.
6. Work with Experts. Most importantly, if you want to authentically connect with Hispanics and drive your brand forward, hire Hispanic marketing experts that exercise these guidelines each and every day.