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Reaching Out to Hispanic Customers

Originally published: 06.01.07 by Steve Saunders


A multi-faced marketing approach is effective for selling to this diverse population.

I do not claim any particular marketing sophistication with regard to the Hispanic or Latino market. But I have been thinking about this topic for a while and have been observing, taking mental notes, and starting to formulate a more formal business strategy. For example, I don’t know if the current appropriate description is Hispanic or Latino or some other term that I am not hip enough to know, understand, and use.

I also do not pretend to understand the differences between marketing to Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Brazilians, or any of the other Spanishspeaking immigrant populations. But I do realize there are differences.

It makes sense, though, to segment this population into three distinct groups to increase our company’s success at marketing and ultimately selling to Spanish-speaking people:

1) Fully acculturated

2) Partially acculturated

3) Slightly acculturated

Each of these market segments likely will have a different marketing strategy and a different approach. It is also likely that the approaches may differ in geographic regions based on population and assimilation.

For the fully acculturated Hispanic population, our key marketing strategy would be exactly the same as our approach for customers in general. These Hispanic families speak and write English fluently. They are middle, upper-middle, and upper class. They could be entrepreneurs or professionals — blue or white collar. They

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want comfort, energy efficiency, clean air, safe and reliable technicians, and timely service at a fair price. This is the easiest segment to market to because from our perspective, we are not altering our marketing, our message, or the delivery of the message. However, as we all know, effective marketing in general is a consistent challenge.

The partially acculturated target customer is likely to have less fluency with English — both spoken and written — and rely more on Spanish-language media outlets. This target audience may respond to targeted ads on television, radio, or print. It is likely that this audience can fully and reasonably communicate in English but give and receive significantly more information in their native language. So, it makes sense to have customer-service representatives, technicians, and salespeople who are bi-lingual. (For more information on Hispanic employees in the hvacr industry, see the June article “Abundant Opportunities” at www.hvacrbusiness.com.)

There are significant variations in Spanish, and so the particular dialect or language emphasis may vary from Miami to San Diego to Chicago. However, the population and target audience is likely to mirror the available employee pool. So, if you have a Cubandominated market, the employee and customer base are likely to have common language and heritage. In San Diego or Houston or Dallas, we will see a higher percentage of immigrants from Mexico — though all three markets will have significant immigration from other Central and South American countries. If you are Hispanic-friendly with your employee base, you are likely to be Hispanic-friendly with your customer base. Marketing to this segment will require a modest change in strategy that may include advertising outlets we have not used before, such as Spanishlanguage radio, television, and newspapers. (The Massachusetts Institute of Technologies Libraries maintain a list of Spanish-language publications at http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/types/flnews/spanish. html).

Designing and printing flyers and coupons printed in Spanish and English, and asking our Hispanic employees for their input with our firm’s marketing and advertising to reach this group are also possible strategies.

The third segment is the group of immigrants who are slightly acculturated. This target audience has large numbers and growing economic influence. I see this Hispanic audience as highly integrated and very family oriented. This market is driven by referrals and relationships, and is easily the most challenging from a marketing perspective. This audience goes to church with your co-workers or knows a relative who has used your company and has a good experience. Many members of this audience are undocumented immigrants or have friends and/or family members who are undocumented. They are extremely clannish and are very protective with their relationships. A good experience can drive significant business volumes. A reputation for being Hispanic friendly can attract business from referrals. The same strategies for the second group apply here, but Spanish-only media likely would be used.

The opportunities for selling to the Hispanic market are boundless and could represent significant business. Recognize though, that this group is diverse, and so it makes sense to market to its members in diverse ways.


Articles by Steve Saunders

Reaching Out to Hispanic Customers

A multi-faced marketing approach is effective for selling to this diverse population.
View article.