Courting The Coachella Valley’s 2 Billion Dollar Hispanic Market

Al Vasquez/CEO Hispanic-Image Marketing Network

Advertisers are oftentimes confused on where to start advertising directed to the Hispanic community. As discussed in last weeks’ column, we now know there is a higher preference for the term Hispanic than there is for Latino or Mexican-American, etc. Just as there is niche marketing, there is also niche advertising.

Advertisers must bear in mind that 42% of the Hispanic market is NOT from Mexico. Therefore, in advertising, you must be inclusive in sub-group terms to encompass Hispanics in general. You must bear in mind that there are 20 sub-groups and every one of them still recalls a time when they were addressed as Peruvians, Columbians, Mexicans, Panamanians, Puerto Ricans, Spaniards, etc. before they were ever addressed as Hispanics.


This is where advertisers need to do their homework and determine what demographic market they are directing their advertising to. English dominate Hispanics or Spanish dominate Hispanics? Acculturated, semi-acculturated or not acculturated at all? Or, do I go for all of the above? Let’s take a look at the overall picture.

First and foremost, advertising directed to the Hispanic community using a novice approach is oftentimes too brief and too incomplete to be effective. Advertising in general has to take a consistent and long term approach. Marketing to Hispanics makes this point even MORE important.

Secondly, there are advertising “handles,” commonalities between all Hispanics. These include language, certain foods, deep ties to their homeland which can easily transfer over to Americanism, conservative values, group identity, traditional family roles, a high propensity to be Catholic, dreams of financial success, good work ethic, willingness to sacrifice for the future success of their children, love of music, understand that each country has its’ own unique sounds, entertainment and camaraderie with their family, friends and countrymen. The most important trait for advertisers is they are brand loyal. Different studies have shown, once convinced your product or store is their preferred choice; they will go out of their way to patronize you.

Thirdly, advertising directed to Hispanics must be understood in language, emotions and message. This means ads must convey the intended message, not just translated. Advertising history is replete with examples of ludicrous messages conveyed to Hispanics via advertising that took months of wasted money before slick advertisers pulled the ads not knowing why they did not work. This reminds us of last weeks Ricardo Lopez quote, “Trying to predict Latino consumer behavior based on non-Hispanic market information is a recipe for disaster.” Examples of advertising using non-Hispanic reference points are the Chevrolet Nova which means “does not go” in Spanish; MENSA, certification applications in college for the brightest students, in Spanish, MENSA means “stupid.” As El Guapo would say in the “Three Amigos” movie; We don’t need no stinkin“stupid” certification!

Recent studies reveal, recollection of advertisements, logically, is very much based on the individuals’ mastery or non mastery of the language in which the ad was run. This brings in an added dimension to normal advertising. Most advertisers are not ready to contend with language comprehension dilemmas.

As has been described before by articles in Hispanic Research, “Hispanics are not melting into the pot; they are changing the looks of the pot.” You do not need to be Hispanic to understand Fajitas, margaritas, Ricky Martin, Cinco de Mayo, quesadillas, guacamole, salsa and hundreds of other terms now part of American lexicon.

Next week let’s get into “How Do I Reach Each Segment?” Do I advertise in Spanish, English or both? Do I advertise in Radio, newspaper, television or where?

Note: Al Vasquez is a former National Executive Director of LULAC, ( the League of United Latin American Citizens, founded in 1928, former National Deputy Director of SER, a national job training program, member of the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Transition team and founder of Hispanic-Image Marketing Network, Inc.