Speaking the Culture: Marketing to Hispanic and Latino Audiences

by Josh Garcia, Copywriter - 03/07/18


Successfully marketing to Hispanic and Latino communities requires a thorough understanding of language, culture, and the intersection of the two.

With Hispanics and Latinos accounting for close to 18 percent of the U.S. population in 2016 and projected to make up almost 25 percent by 2035, it’s important to know how to market to these groups while making sure that your messaging doesn’t get lost in translation.

Hispanic vs. Latino vs. Spanish

Crafting Spanish-language versions of your marketing materials may seem like a good starting point when reaching out to Hispanic or Latino audiences. However, you must first understand what the words “Hispanic,” “Latino,” and “Spanish” mean before committing to a marketing strategy.

“Hispanic” refers specifically to people who speak Spanish or originate from a Spanish-speaking country. “Latino” denotes people from Latin America, which includes non-Spanish speaking countries like Brazil, where Portuguese is the national language. And people who are “Spanish” are from Spain, in the same way that “English” people are from England.

Put more simply, your Spanish-language magazine may be perfect for your Hispanic audience but may not encompass the entirety of your Latino audience. If you’re marketing to a sizable Brazilian population, you may want to consider publishing materials in Portuguese.

Split the Difference

Depending on the demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach, creating marketing materials completely in Spanish may cause you to miss some key healthcare decision makers among Hispanic and Latino families.

According to a report published by Nielsen in 2012, 40 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults speak mostly or solely English. Only 28 percent speak Spanish exclusively, so consider creating mixed language materials that cater to Hispanics who speak both languages. “Spanglish” publications may better represent the everyday experiences of audience members who have grown up in multigenerational households with both Spanish and English speakers.

Cultural Longevity and Mobility

Though the U.S. is often described as a “melting pot” that encourages the assimilation of foreign cultures into one uniquely American experience, Hispanics and Latinos retain much of their cultural heritage and customs through close familial ties, use of the Internet, and connectivity with others via social media. As such, some cultural practices and biases are resilient in these communities and may affect their attitudes towards healthcare.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that of all ethnic groups, Hispanics are least likely to seek out medical providers and services. This may be linked to a number of factors, including access to health insurance, an aversion to discussing health matters, and a preference for family remedies over impersonal clinical visits. To better speak to this audience, try highlighting low-cost care options in your marketing materials using a warm, personal tone that places an emphasis on family.

For example, a hospital may focus on its cutting-edge technology, quick appointment times, and certification as a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center in its typical marketing materials. When considering a Latino or Hispanic audience, however, it may be better for the hospital to highlight its free childcare services for parents undergoing treatment or a financial aid program that helps cover the cost of care. While quick visits and time-saving turnarounds are highly appealing to many Americans, Hispanics and Latinos prefer building close relationships with doctors, so leaving short appointment times out of marketing materials for these audiences may be preferable.

Choosing how to deliver your marketing content is an important cultural consideration as well. When compared to non-Hispanic White individuals, Hispanics and Latinos are almost 30 percent more likely to own a smartphone and overshadow all other ethnic groups in terms of mobile data consumption. Offering mobile apps and other services may make it more convenient for Hispanics and Latinos to schedule appointments, find a primary care provider, or keep up with medical news.

If treated as its own economy, the combined buying power of Latinos and Hispanics in the U.S. would be one of the largest in the world. Don’t be afraid to mix up your messaging to tap into this market.

Multicultural Marketing in Action 

Find out how a not-for-profit health system in Texas reaches its Spanish-speaking population.

 Read the Case Study

Topics: Audience Segmentation & Targeting, Content Marketing

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