Allure and Risk in Reaching the US Hispanic Market

by DJI

Tips for Conducting Online Research Among Latinos

In the last several years, many sociologists, marketers and statisticians have documented the burgeoning segment of Latino-Americans. The Pew Research Center even has “Hispanics” as one of the main menu-tabs on its website, giving this topic equal heft alongside areas such as “US Politics”, “Social Trends”, “Technology” and “Global”; according to US Census figures, the US Hispanic population has gone from over 35 million in 2000 to over 50 million in 2010 and Nielsen estimates its purchasing power will be $1.5 trillion in 2015. This group is young, has a higher-than-average birthrate, and has values and consumption habits that in many ways set it apart.

Accordingly, marketers as well as politicians are paying attention. Yet there are potential pitfalls in targeting this group, including the risk of coming across as inauthentic or offensive. As with almost any population subgroup, efforts to speak to them may be viewed as patronizing or even creepy if they seem stereotyped or one-dimensional – Latinos are a sophisticated and diverse audience, embracing complexity through their bi-cultural lifestyles, and are potentially very engaged consumers. Instead, experts emphasize that it is important for your brand to “empower their cultural relevancy” and to “properly represent their voices and authentic identity” but it is not always clear how to attempt these goals, or to know if your efforts are hitting the mark.

While there are valuable general observations about the US Latino market, (e.g. reported in syndicated studies like Leo Burnett’s LatinoShop or Nielsen’s The Hispanic Market Imperative)…

  • Most are bi-cultural, have English as their set preference for technology and media, and speak and write English as well as or better than they do Spanish
  • They place a higher-than-mainstream value on using the sense of touch while shopping
  • They lead mainstream Americans on setting and following trends
  • They value and work to preserve strong friendship and family ties, and like to stay in close contact in-person and through social media sites like Facebook

…we can’t resist pointing out that custom research is a more direct and precise way to test and refine your message or product for this market. In particular, online research methods have become important tools for researching Latinos and there are differences to note in using online studies for this market. The Latino Special Interest Group at last year’s Qualitative Research Consultants Association conference decided to develop a set of guidelines to help researchers implement studies with Latino target groups. Their suggestions are summarized in an article in the Winter 2012 issue of “QRCA Views” – Se Habla Online Qualitative, and provide some very useful tips for any marketer seeking to better understand this growing and influential market. Issues covered include:

  • How to recruit Latinos
  • Which online methodologies work best
  • What language to use in surveys
  • Guidelines for developing survey questions
  • Effective qualitative techniques

When it comes to avoiding the risks and capturing the prize, a little research goes a long way.

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