The Intersections of the Hispanic Audience

2020 was an unprecedented and abnormal year. The global pandemic created a year where everything was challenged and people’s lives needed to adapt quickly to their “new normal.” Marketers needed to pay close attention to monitoring market trends and media consumption patterns. One thing that has remained consistent, is the importance of the Hispanic consumer and understanding how to connect with them in today’s marketplace.

As an illustration, a recent WSJ article states that more Hispanic Americans are buying homes, helping to stoke the hot housing market. The number of Hispanic homeowners rose by more than 700,000 to nearly 9 million in 2020, the biggest one-year increase in two decades. (Source: WSJ 4/20/2021)

The Hispanic audience is complex and there are a lot of nuances within it. Understanding that your Hispanic consumer is not monolithic is the first step in being able to effectively communicate with them. Assuming that you are reaching your Hispanic audience with your general market plan is myopic. A “one size fits all” approach is not truly connecting with the Hispanic market. Secondly, just because you are running your creative spots/ads in Spanish, you are still not truly “connecting” with your consumer. Understanding that “Hispanic” does not equal “Spanish Language” is the most important misconception to overcome.

The reality of the US Hispanic audience is that it’s extremely diverse, and technically more challenging to navigate because language preference comes into play. The US Hispanic, as a group, has a lower median age than any other ethnic group. But that’s where the similarities end.

Establishing and quantifying your Hispanic target audience starts with understanding their “intersections”. Often labeled with hyphens, Hispanics almost always straddle two cultures. Your consumer can be a “Mexican-American”, or a “Cuban-American”. These obviously emerge from their culture of origin. But they also straddle geographic cultures. For example, a Hispanic consumer in San Diego is living at the intersection of Mexican and Californian culture. Each region, and even each market, have very distinct Hispanic nuances that shape both the area, as well as the consumer. Hispanic Texans in San Antonio consume media differently than they do in the Rio Grande Valley area, even though they are only 3 hours away driving distance.

It’s one thing to speculate about these nuances, but it’s another thing to truly be able to quantify them. Research companies are listening and taking note. In the 2020 Census, a new measurement was added, where the census questionnaire included two questions regarding Hispanic race and origin, which includes Black. This enables us to now break out the Afro-Hispanic, who see themselves as Hispanic, Black, or both. Nielsen has also announced new Universe Estimates that include American Community Survey data.

The new Nielsen variable uses the following data inputs:

  • Place of Birth – U.S. Born / Not U.S. born
  • Language Other Than English Spoken at home – Yes, No
  • English Proficiency – Very Well, Well, Not Well, Not At all

Future new variable are as follows:

  • National TV, Digital and Local TV Measurement: September 2021
  • Audio and Scarborough Measurement: January 2022

Extensive research has shown that these new variables will be a strong predictor of Spanish Language viewing and listening behavior when compared to the current variable for language use in the home.

While broadcast ratings can provide regional measurement against the general Spanish language audience, those ratings only benchmark the “where” to reach your audience. But answering “how should I reach my audience?” is a much more complex question.

Identifying the cultural intersections is crucial to shape your messaging, so that it will be received and welcomed. The distinct differences between Intocable versus Bad Bunny are as different as Country music versus Classical. At the intersection of reaching Hispanics in “the right place” with “the right message”, only then are you truly inviting them to engage with your brand.

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