When I’m Happy I Speak Spanish

I live in a predominantly Hispanic rural area in Santa Cruz County in Southern Arizona.  S.C. County borders Mexico at the city of Nogales, about 22 miles south of my home. This morning as I planted flowers in my backyard, Jehovah’s Witness representatives left a flyer in my front door, in Spanish. Was there an assumption that whoever lived here was Spanish speaking?  Usually its the other way around.

Just north of me is Tubac, a small tourist destination town known as “The Place Where Art & History Meet.” The “art” part is why I’m here. This small village, yes, its not even a town, generates the majority of taxes for the county and is populated largely by “snowbirds,” a two home retired population (not why I’m here.) So there is an interesting contrast between the local population, the workers at the restaurants and shops, and the shop owners and retirees. The Hispanics come to Tubac to work, then leave and go home.

Considering this population, you would expect that at least some of the marketing for shops and local events would include the Hispanic population.  Nope!

I use the Tubac experience as an example of a larger mentality when it comes to marketing to minorities. Companies often assume that since most Hispanics in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, Mexico and Texas speak some English, there is no need to go above and beyond to address them in their own language or with consideration of their specific culture differences.

Large companies know better than that and understand that the Hispanic market is one of the fastest growing populations in the country. “With Hispanic purchasing power approaching $1.5 trillion, this group is exceeding the purchasing power of every other minority in the country. Latino-owned businesses are also growing twice as fast as the national average, meaning Hispanic culture and needs are going to be a driving force in the industry, which is something businesses should certainly keep in mind.” Business2Community.com.

So how should companies reach this minority audience? Minorities often feel that they are caught between two worlds, even if born in the U.S., cultural identity starts at home and Hispanics value their cultural traditions. There are often multi-generations living in the same house together.  They celebrate with culturally specific food and music. Even second or third generation Hispanics in the US, fluent in English, speak Spanish at home.

Screenshot 2016-03-12 17.18.39

Hispanic millennials in particular, are highly connected digitally.

  • 54% of US Hispanic Smartphone Owners visited an online store
  • US Hispanics spend more time in online stores, via
    their mobile devices, than the general population
  • US Hispanics are 30% more likely to purchase a product advertised on a Social Site
  • US Hispanics also use technology to make the most efficient purchases.
  • 67% Go Online for UGC Content
  • 40% of online Hispanics create content and provide their opinions online
  • 80% of Hispanic adults use social media which is higher than the overall 72% of adults in the US. (Pew Research)

Like all millennials, marketing to Hispanic millennials should not only address their digital savviness for channels to reach them on, but cultural consideration should still be given in the content. “66% say it’s important to be recognized as Hispanic through culturally relevant content.” (Alcance Media Group). Second generation Hispanics, born in this country are defining themselves through social media and struggle with balancing the pressure at home of embracing the Hispanic culture and values while trying to fit in to the American culture. This identity crises was captured well in the AT&T Mobile Movement campaign, “Between 2 Worlds.”  In the video, one young man states, “When I’m angry I speak in English, when I’m happy I speak in Spanish.” That statement is very telling.

The top two phone service carriers, Verizon and AT&T have both created campaigns to reach this specific Hispanic market. In my opinion, AT&T has done a better job by using the target demographic as the spokespersons to speak to each other over Verizon’s use of a Latino celebrity that has cross over appeal. AT&T’s ad elaborates on the identity crisis of living in 2 worlds: Spanglish.

AT&T Mobile Movement: Between 2 Worlds

Verizon Paul Rodriguez Hispanic Celebrity Campaign



3 thoughts on “When I’m Happy I Speak Spanish

  1. My wife is Hispanic and I am a very pale white male. We used to live in New Mexico which has an extremely large Hispanic community. When I took our son for a walk, I was often asked whose child he was. I did not take offense, but I did get a taste of the way it feels to be treated differently due to my skin color.

    I am always sensitive to advertising aimed towards Hispanics because of my family. And more often than not I find that my wife does not share my sensitivity. What I think is pandering, she does not bat an eye at. So it often a matter of perception.


  2. I personally think that Hillary’s Spanish tweets were a little too obvious in an attempt to reach the Latino voters. “Her social media promotion ,”Hillary Clinton is Like Your Abuela” in which her campaign tried to convince Latino voters that “Grandma Hillary” was just as loving and caring as their own grandmother failed miserably. It even inspired a Twitter hashtag, #NotMyAbuela, allowing Latinos to let Hillary have it over what many dubbed “Hispandering.””

    What she did right though was not try to duplicate the same tweet in both languages.



  3. In my opinion, marketing to different ethnicities is one of the most fascinating topics that I have seen during the current presidental elections. Immigration is a hot topic, and has become a main platform for many of the candidates. It has been so interesting to watch how dramatically conversations change based off the locations they are in. When the Democrats recently spoke in Miami, I was surprised to discover that Hillary was sending out Spanish tweets, without providing the same text translated into English. By only offering tweets in Spanish, her message was clear. Hillary was only interested in focusing in on this group of people.

    Do you think this was a smart marketing tactic?


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