Six tips for targeting the US Hispanic market

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The Hispanic market in the US is growing rapidly, and marketers are rushing to tap into it. The buying power of Hispanic-Americans is expected to rise from $1 trillion in 2010 to $1.5 trillion in 2015 — accounting for almost 11% of the nation's total buying power — according to a recent report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

The growth of this segment has ensured that MotionPoint Corporation, which translates marketing material for companies as diverse as CitiBank, Tylenol, Oakley and Victoria's Secret, has no shortage of new business. DirectConnect spoke with Charles Whiteman, SVP of client services at MotionPoint, about what strategies marketers should use to ensure their message connects with this valuable consumer group.

The time to look beyond your core market is now. Not only is the US Hispanic market growing, but business in the general market has been slowing, making outreach to this segment particularly attractive to larger companies. “When your core market is growing fast, all you do is serve it well, and the rising tide will lift all your boats,” says Whiteman. “But when it's not rising, you have to look out further. The Hispanic market is growing much faster than the general market, and the US-focused companies we work with, like those in banking and insurance, are moving toward this segment as an opportunity to generate growth.”

Parity, not customization, is what consumers prefer on websites. While connecting with Spanish-speaking consumers in their language is vital to reaching Hispanics, Whiteman warns marketers not to go too far with their customization. “One thing that we see time and time again is that our clients are often surprised by the result of their experiments with customization,” he says. Whiteman adds that some retailers have shifted to a focus on parity between their English- and Spanish-language sites, rather than using tailored microsites that may strike consumers as offering different, or even lower-quality, products and services.

But customization does work for direct marketing material. However, the same rule of parity does not apply to direct mail and other promotional material meant to draw Hispanic consumers to the brand website, says Whiteman. “Mailers, e-mail, anything that's an outbound invitation to engage with the company, should be targeted and customized a bit more,” says Whiteman. “Our clients have often found it preferable to build Spanish-language ads from scratch in a way that is unique to that audience.”

Test your marketing material. Whiteman says these lessons are examples of how important it is for marketers to test how their material is received by the Hispanic audience. “We're a very data-driven and fact-based business. You should find out what your target audience thinks of your marketing before rolling it out. Anyone in the digital space, with the exception of multi-lingual marketing, already does that,” he jokes. “Always copy-test the different versions to see which ones work the best and what kind of response rate each gets.”

Growth in mobile. “The market research I've seen indicates that the Hispanic audience in the US is much more likely to access the Web via mobile devices than the general market,” says Whiteman. He adds that for clients of MotionPoint, such as Ford, it is relatively simple to expand their current Spanish-language offerings for access through smartphones. This is something consumers are demanding with greater frequency, he explains.

Social media is still slow. While clients may embrace mobile for targeting the Hispanic market, that is still not the case with social media — yet. “A lot of our clients are figuring out what they want to be on the general market side of social media, and really aren't ready to do ‘social media part two' with that level of microtargeting of segments in the general market.” However, he expects that to change: “If you ask whether our clients are embracing social media a year from now, it will be a much more emphatic ‘yes,' but right now they're trying to get their arms around social media,” he says.

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