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How Brands Can Celebrate Latinidad This Hispanic Heritage Month

Despite enduring a rough couple of years due to Covid, the Hispanic community in the US is experiencing tremendous economic growth this year and even saw a sharp decrease in the unemployment rate. In addition, under the Biden administration, nearly half of Latino student loan debt will be forgiven. This forgiveness, coupled with the unemployment rate and other economic factors, will help further the Hispanic community’s buying power, making brand loyalty one of the most critical areas for Hispanic marketing. 

First things first I would like to define my terms and clear up some very wrong assumptions of the Hispanic community. Hispanic means from a Spanish speaking country. So my friend Sara from Spain is Hispanic, my mother from Chile is Hispanic, Shakira from Colombia is also Hispanic. Latino means from a Latin American country. So Adriana Lima from Brazil is Latina but because she isn’t from a Spanish speaking country she isn’t Hispanic. Salma Hayek from Mexico is both Latina and Hispanic. Penelope Cruz from Spain is Hispanic but she is not Latina. Make sense? 

Hispanics and Latinos in the US and beyond also face a ton of stereotypes. We aren’t all brown firstly, we can be white (Ana de Armas) or black (Cardi B) and many of us are mestizo meaning a mix of indigenous and european descent (like JLo). We aren’t all working class gardeners and maids and we didn’t all immigrate illegally. Some of us, like Salma Hayek, grew up in affluent middle class homes while others, like Rosie Perez, come from backgrounds of financial struggle. 

This attachment to profiling us as only working class or entertainers means that there are a variety of industries where we are underrepresented. A quick way to initiate change and focus on this disparity is to spotlight key creators in the brand’s respective industry. In 2020, Netflix did an excellent job of showcasing Hispanic leaders. They created a microsite that contained a variety of genres, including “Award-Winning Films en Espanol,” “¡Fútbol!” that had soccer documentaries, and “Food and Culture Across the Americas,” which featured reggaeton artists, the popular show Selena the Series and more.

There are over 60 million Hispanics in the United States, and this group is rapidly growing. The Hispanic community has increased by 70% from 2000 to 2018, compared with only 9% growth for non-Hispanics. This community is highly diverse and takes great pride in its culture and traditions. According to Nielsen, “45% of Hispanics agree with the statement ‘I feel really good about seeing celebrities in the media that share my ethnic background,which surpasses the general population by 37%.”

Highlighting the community’s heritage can be easily done by leveraging user-generated content. For instance, the Miami Dolphins shared a video celebrating their Hispanic fans on their social media channels. The football team collected pictures of their fans and put them together to make a short video.

For us Latinos, the importance of the diaspora is huge, similarly to how it is for the Black community. Seventy-three percent of U.S. Hispanics agree that it’s important that their children continue their family’s cultural traditions and that their ethnic heritage is an essential part of who they are. In addition, 71% of all Hispanics speak Spanish at home, either primarily or in combination with English. While nearly three-fourths of consumers feel a deep affinity towards the Spanish language, many companies are not marketing in Spanish. If a company is not actively creating Spanish content, it should consider doing so in the future. However, since traditions and folklore are also important to this group, brands should also include cultural elements in their marketing efforts. A great way to forge this connection is through the art of storytelling.

Disney Parks did an excellent job at this by featuring the famous band, Mariachi Cobre. As a result, the viewer connected with the band personally and understood how they achieved such success.

Another excellent example of this was the New York Islanders’ initiative. The team featured a first-generation little boy, Dario, who aspired to be an NHL player. The Islanders documented his meeting with first-generation Cuban-American Islanders alum, Al Montoya. Like the Disney Parks example, the viewer was able to connect with Dario on a deeper level and root for his success.

While Hispanic Heritage Month is an excellent time for a brand to kick off its Hispanic marketing efforts, the efforts to profile Hispanic and Latino success and struggle should occur year-round and have a deep focus on connecting with the Hispanic community through language, culture and family. As the youngest ethnic group in the United States, Hispanics make up 23% of early tech adopters (greater than their share of the total population). That’s why it’s critical to form connections with them wherever they are — which in this case, is mainly on social media.

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