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Hispanic vs. Latino: Why it’s Important to Keep the Difference in Mind When Creating Marketing Strategies

While your brand may have recognized the importance of creating a strong multicultural marketing strategy, even a few missteps could easily land you in hot water.

Most brands undertake multicultural marketing with limited knowledge of Hispanic and Latino culture, traditions, and vernacular. This results in a generalized marketing strategy that targets both Hispanics and Latinos without taking subjective differences into account.

Not only does a generalized multicultural marketing strategy run the risk of alienating potential customers, but it also damages brand identity as a whole.

If you’re confused about how to demarcate the two, we’ve broken down the differences to help you get started!

Hispanic vs. Latino Consumers

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. Hispanic and Latino population has grown to an astounding 60 million people. Projections indicate that the population is expected to reach a whopping 119 million by 2060!

With purchasing power of over $1.7 trillion, the U.S. Hispanic and Latino population constitutes a significant portion of consumers for a large majority of U.S. businesses. However, many brands tend to conflate the two, thereby losing customers to other brands that are cognizant of racial and ethnic nuances.

In a nutshell, the term “Hispanic” is associated with language, whereas “Latino” refers to location. Hispanics commonly speak Spanish or originate from a country where Spanish is generally spoken.

Contrarily, the Latino community originated from Latin America, which includes countries where Spanish isn’t spoken. So while a marketing campaign with a plethora of Spanish slogans may be perfect for your Hispanic audience, it’s very likely to fail to strike a chord with your Latino audience.

In a nutshell, the Hispanic subset is a narrow group that requires tailored marketing with a strong emphasis on language. Alternatively, Latinos may or may not speak Spanish, as their identity is strongly rooted in diverse locations as opposed to language.

This requires informed and compartmentalized marketing that targets different audiences based on the product/service and demographics.

Marketing to Hispanic Audiences

While an objective difference may seem like a great starting point to create unique and heterogeneous marketing strategies, there are several nuances packed within each identity.

Hispanics conventionally tend to have a closer relationship with their language. However, this mostly rings true for first-generation Hispanics. Over the years, there has been a dramatic increase in second-generation and third-generation Hispanics.

According to data collected by the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Hispanic population is represented by:

  • Gen Z (0–18): 32%
  • Millennials (18–33): 26%
  • Gen X (34–49): 22%
  • Boomers (50–68): 14%

It comes as no surprise that a large majority of second-generation and third-generation Hispanics do not speak Spanish.

With research indicating that later-generation Hispanics are less likely to communicate in Spanish in their households, marketers are confronted with the task of creating subsets within the Hispanic audience, thereby targeting each group more accurately.

A great way to get started is to compartmentalize each generation and create marketing strategies that align with their interests and penchants. For instance, a marketing campaign that targets first-generation Hispanics should include a rich blend of culture, traditions, references, language, and food.

Alternatively, a campaign directed at later-generation Hispanics should primarily be in English, with a modern blend of trendy pop culture references.

Marketing to Latino Audiences

While Latino audiences are largely associated with geography, many of them still speak Spanish. However, marketers should keep the difference in mind and create a multicultural strategy that doesn’t primarily focus on language. For instance, people from Brazil are Latino, yet, they don’t speak Spanish; they speak Portuguese.

We recommend creating a multicultural strategy that incorporates geographical trends and insights.

Don’t forget to leave room for subjective deviations. A strong focus on customized multicultural marketing will help you tap into wider audiences by devising and executing a relevant, heartfelt, and nuanced strategy.

How Should I Get Started?

Kick-start your campaign by getting in touch with a professional multicultural marketing company that offers state-of-the-art translation and interpretation services.

With over 25 years of experience, Web Jungle is one of the leading multicultural marketing agencies in the U.S. Their team comprises Hispanic and Latino marketing consultants, and translators and interpreters that offer expert insights into the latest multicultural trends.

For more information, call 212-246-2332 or connect with the company on Facebook or Twitter.


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