Taken from Forbes
Written by Laura Rocha, Co-founder and CEO, Dathic
Echarle ganas in Spanish, means to have a desire to do something. But not simply an interest. It means to really work hard to give your all to achieve a goal. For brands looking to reach the Latino community, I consider this the most important step to successfully win our loyalty.
In a recent analysis, McKinsey1 reported U.S. Latinos account for the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. GDP but feel deeply underserved by the brands they consume. Indeed, the unmet needs of this community were estimated at a $663 billion dollar gap.
Brands have strong incentives to do their very best to win the loyalty of this market, not only for Hispanic Heritage Month but throughout the year. The Latino population keeps growing, now becoming the majority in California and Texas, and their consumption power reaches $3 trillion2. The community is aware of their enormous contribution to U.S. society and the economy and Latino consumers are actively moving their dollars to brands that serve their community's interests and reflect their values.
There is no secret sauce to growing from zero to all-in with the greater Latino community; but in my work at Dathic, and as a proud Latina myself, I see the best outcomes are coming from brands that have a genuine commitment and then do the hard work to understand and engage the community with empathy. I want to share here some tips to guide the work to understand and engage with Latinos to achieve the desired loyalty and grow in this large market.
With the vast magnitude of the U.S., be sure to acknowledge this is a large and diverse market. It’s best to set aside preconceptions about the specific communities you’re aiming to reach and dig deeper. As the largest minority group in the U.S.; Hispanics as a community have grown and prospered in terms of population size, education, and income power. To guide effective and authentic strategies, you must clearly understand the current reality of your specific communities and dig into what is relevant to them.
Don't underestimate the time and effort it would take to deeply understand your Hispanic market. Marketers often struggle to create a single "persona" that represents all Latinos and Latinas accurately, this is not even possible acknowledging the huge diversity within the community, but it is even more challenging when they are trying to achieve it in ONE WEEK in September. According to historical metrics from Google Trends3, for the last five years, the searches associated with Hispanics, Latinos, or LatinX reached their highest peaks in the week between September 10-16 (5 days before starting Hispanic Heritage Month). Not surprisingly, the most relevant inquiries are who are Hispanics, and how many Hispanics are in the U.S., meaning a need for understanding the community.
Brands try to show their commitment by highlighting content, and data during Hispanic Heritage Month. Wealthier brands spend their budgets hiring artists, telenovela actresses, or football (soccer) legends for a seasonal campaign with the goal of connecting with Latinos. Much to their disappointment, and while better than nothing, this doesn’t always gain the hearts and loyalty of this large market. It’s just not that simple. There is no one-size-fits-all way to reach over 60 million people who self-identified with Latino heritage in the U.S. whose roots come from 18 different countries and within them millions of different familial subgroups located across the entire country.
At this stage, less is more. Don’t try to understand everything, or all nuances at once. There is no need to know all the reggaeton artists or famous dishes. Mostly start from your specific market, in your region, your generation, interests in your product, or topics that are relevant to your goals.
There is a lot of research and data available, in Dathic, we use over 100 sources to run the analysis on Latinos and multicultural consumers. Local and national organizations, as well as census and government agencies, provide free information, and social media and your own sales and marketing data are good resources. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your boundaries and explore diverse sources. Also, go out of your office to engage in real life with the communities. If you need to run surveys or focus groups, work with diverse suppliers to ensure your samples really represent the specific population you want to understand.
Focus on socio-demographic characteristics, various cultures, and the great expansion across the U.S. Also, languages, topics of interest for your specific business purposes, diversity of cuisine and ingredients, as well as generational differences. Consider iterating over and over on your research to gain more and more understanding of your specific community.
For instance, if heritage is relevant to your specific purpose, learn from groups with similar characteristics such as South American, Central American, and Caribbean. In our work at Dathic, we have statistically proved that some nationalities are more likely to live closer and share interests and traditions. Colombian communities share the locations with Peruvians, Venezuelans, and Argentinians. Nicaraguans are often closer to Cubans and Salvadorans. Also, Salvadorans with Guatemalans and Puerto Ricans with Dominicans.
Most importantly, work with a diverse team of people, including people from the community, and bring in vendors that are part of it. That will help you come to conclusions faster and more comprehensively and will lead you to gather proper cultural and goal-specific insights to drive strategies to connect more authentically.
True, genuine engagement is key. Instead of just “connecting,” which feels like a social media buzzword, akin to “like” or “follow,” I prefer to call this step, engage. Engagement implies mutual attention and taking action to be relevant and supportive, as to win the Latinos' loyalty, you must first win their hearts.
The desire to truly engage with the community starts top-down from leaders with a true commitment to making communities welcomed, heard, and served, as it requires a long-term strategy more than a seasonal campaign. The lack of commitment might end up feeling fake or setting stereotypes that instead of driving sales can hurt reputation. In Colombia, we refer to this step as ponerte la camiseta, which translates as “wearing the jersey of your soccer team,” and we say this when an organization’s leader motivates their team to make their best effort with full passion and conviction to achieve the goal of an undertaken project.
The Latino community in the U.S. is not really a single unique group, but a mix of thousands of groups of people that share commonalities from their Latin American roots and culture but also share a lot with American culture, as the majority of U.S. Latinos were born in the U.S.4 This includes not only preferences for some American brands and products, but also the respect for the liberties, and traditions attached to the American, regional, and local cultures. Therefore, a clear understanding of your specific audience will guide your actions and set strategies to connect with their interests, offer value in what they care about, and tailor to the specific needs of the community you’re serving.
In terms of authenticity, you being you and Latinos being themselves is going to be the winning ticket.
Brands don’t have to pretend to be “Mexican” adding a sombrero to their logo to be appealing to Latinos. You don’t have to translate everything to Spanish, or always create a seasonal churros-flavored product. Brands can reflect inclusivity, welcoming and real commitment to serve and support the community, without appropriation. As humans, we all have biases or preconceptions, but as the Latino community has evolved so fast, it is likely your standing assumptions will be wrong. It is important to leave stereotypes behind, understand their culture, and create campaigns that really resonate with your true current audience instead of following the “traditional” stereotypes.
Latinos are conscious shoppers, have clarity of their needs, we value our culture a lot and now more than ever we know the power of our wallets. Through echarle ganas, and setting clear and long-lasting strategies to understand and engage with genuine connections will help brands go from a purely transactional relationship to embarking on a long-term relationship that wins Latinos’ hearts and therefore loyalty.
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