Hispanic Marketing: Not a Universal Message

As most of us know, the Hispanic population is the second largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, currently consisting of 50.5 million people. I read an article in the St. Petersburg Times this summer that discusses how Hispanic Americans originate from many different countries and backgrounds. Although the universal language for this group is Spanish, it doesn’t mean their tastes and cultures are the same – so we shouldn’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach when targeting them in marketing and public relations efforts. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily use the same marketing strategies when launching a new product in America as you would in England just because people in both countries speak English.

Here are some examples of how Hispanic countries differ among themselves:

  • Culture – Although many people assume Cinco de Mayo is a Hispanic holiday, it’s actually Mexican – not Puerto Rican, Colombian or Venezuelan. Dia de los Muertos is also a Mexican holiday that many other Hispanic countries observe. However, Mexicans celebrate this holiday by visiting cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, while Guatemalans set themselves apart by constructing and flying giant, decorated kites, traditionally believed to guide souls back to life.
  • Language – While most people know that the Spanish word for “friend” is “amigo,” the slang term in some areas of South America is “parcero” or “pana,” and in Central America it can be “pasiero” or “vato.”
  • Other – Baseball is a popular sport in Cuba and Venezuela, but not in Bolivia and Argentina, where soccer is preferred.

I’m from Brazil, the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America, and while we are often categorized as a part of the “Hispanic” population, we are actually classified as “Latinos” due to our language differences and historical background. So remember: before launching a major marketing or public relations campaign – or even prior to sending out a press release – faça sua pesquisa (do your research).

Are you aware of any other cultural differences among the Hispanic population that you feel PR and marketing professionals should be aware of?

Vanessa is Linda Costa Communications Group’s newest PR team member. She’s from Brazil and will be bringing some Latin “flavor” to the table – and our department.