by Camila Mendoza Dukón, Producer/Project Manager at Illuminator

The Latino population in the US increased by 23% between 2010 and 2020; this growth is also represented in its purchasing power. According to a Pew Research Center report, we now represent approximately 18.7% of the population in the United States and a $1.5 trillion market opportunity.

And since there are 62.5 million of us (and rising), it’s important to remember we’re all different. People of Latin American origin don’t have as many common denominators as advertisers think. Not all of us like salsa dancing or watching “fútbol”; we’re not all Catholic, nor do we have the same political views. If that sounds similar to other audience groups you’ve been marketing to, that’s because it is. And as such, campaigns need to look past the “Latino” tag and talk directly to our interests.

As a Latino who’s also a marketer, I constantly look for ways to improve how the brands I work with talk to the target audience I represent. As a California-based Colombian, it has always interested me how different brands market to Latin American audiences in the US. This journey helped me rediscover myself both as the recipient and source of these messages.

Here are some notes I’ve taken throughout my career in the US: 

Find the similarities among the differences

As immigrants or children of immigrants, we have common experiences that automatically connect us. Most of us share a homeland and/or family nostalgia that can be nurtured with music, food, and stories. Not all of us celebrate Día de los Muertos, but we all long for our abuelas. Find the right way to incorporate your brand storytelling into the things that move your specific niche.

Real representation matters

Inserting a “Latino” in your ad won’t cut it; it frequently feels like trying too hard. Let us know how your brand fits into our lives. If you are in F&B, show how your product can improve our dishes; if you are a beauty brand, include various skin tones and hair types in your tutorials. Look at what Latino influencers are doing, talk to them, include them and empower their voice with your message

Use clever references

The times when it was ok to represent us as Bandidos and Señoritas are over. Cringy and outdated references will only make us run away from your brand. Embrace different current Latino representations; think Oscar Isaac, Ana de Armas, or Jenna Ortega, just to name a few in the mainstream. “Latinidad” is not always bombastic; it can also be intellectual and subtle.

Language, por favor!

Not all Latinos live a Spanish-dominant life. Some of us communicate mostly in English and a lot in Spanglish. Adjusting this in your messaging will probably make it more effective; take the pulse and don’t force it. Finding the right proportion of slang and proper language can be tricky, but the results will be worth it. Authenticity is key.

Be consistent

Hispanic Heritage Month campaigns are just a tiny part of what brands need to do to reach and empower this demographic. Let us know we’re more than the flavor of the month between mid-September and mid-October; show a real interest and create resources that manifest that interest. Build a version of your website in Spanish, and hire more bilingual voices throughout your organization. More showing and less telling is always appreciated.

Like any other audience, we want to be heard. Don’t turn our flavor and attitude into a cartoonish representation, and always—always—do your research and listen to your audience. Invest in getting the right tools and team; your work will be appreciated and rewarded.

If you’re trying to figure out how to incorporate these tips into your marketing, throw us a line. The Illuminator team is here to help.


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