Spend any time on the Internet and you’re bound to come across Spanish-language content, ads highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month, and recipes for traditional Latin American dishes. As the US Hispanic market grows (Hispanics are now the largest US minority group with a purchasing power of $1.5 trillion), efforts to specifically reach this audience are plentiful. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean that attempts at marketing to US Hispanics are successful. Sometimes they’re downright cringe-worthy–like the time I heard a family in a TV commercial promoting a Cuban dish in Mexican accents. If you’re looking to expand content to reach an audience as diverse as US Hispanics, here are three of the most common missteps to avoid.
Assuming we all share the same culture.
This is probably the most common error marketers make when they’re not familiar with the communities that make up the US Hispanic market. As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant father and a Cuban immigrant mother, I can tell you that outside of a shared language, my parents have little in common in terms of culture. My mom didn’t know what a tortilla was until she met my father. She frequently has to explain Cuban slang terms to him, and he knows nothing of the salsa musicians who populate her playlist. US Hispanics are an incredibly diverse group made up of people with origins in a diverse set of countries with their own language differences, cuisines, music, and holidays. If you’re hoping to reach a broad Hispanic audience with your content, make sure you’re not making cultural references that are particular to only one subset of Hispanics. On the other hand, consider creating content that appeals to people of specific Hispanic backgrounds, and they’re likely to identify with it to a greater extent.
Not customizing content based on region.
So you just created a brilliant piece of content, and it’s hugely popular among Hispanics in California, but it’s hardly getting a click in Florida. What’s going on? You probably didn’t consider how different those two audiences are. US Hispanic communities differ vastly in terms of culture, speech, food, socioeconomics, and political affiliations by US region. For example, the largest Hispanic population in West Coast states is Mexican-American. In South Florida, there is a very small Mexican-American community but a very large Cuban-American community. That’s why it’s worth customizing content so that it appeals to people across many regions or, if you’re zeroing in on a specific regional market, customizing content to appeal to the majority of US Hispanics who reside there.
Creating content in only one language.
It might seem like the easiest way to adapt content to reach US Hispanics is to simply translate it to Spanish. But not all US Hispanics are fluent in Spanish–and even among those who are, Spanish is not necessarily the language of choice when consuming content. My mother prefers to read in Spanish, but she also frequently reads English blog posts and newspapers. My grandmother reads in only Spanish. And me? I almost exclusively read content in English. A message in Spanish would fall on deaf ears if directed at me. Language preferences vary by generation, immigration status, history (some communities have roots in the US that span hundreds of generations!), and region. The best way to ensure you are reaching as many people as possible is to create bilingual content in both English and Spanish.
As US Hispanic buying power continues to grow, so will efforts to promote products in unique ways that appeal to the market. Avoid these common pitfalls, and your message will rise above the rest.
Gabriela Garcia—Freelance writer and editor