By Adam Shapiro, VP, New York Interconnect
Hispanic culture has had such a profound effect on media, entertainment, food, music, politics, fashion, art and other elements of everyday life that it’s virtually impossible these days to tell where Hispanic culture ends and where mainstream American culture begins. For brands, the marketing and media implications of this simple fact are tremendous, both nationally and on a regional level.
Let’s take a look at a few ways in which marketers need to reframe their thinking around Hispanic audiences and what was once considered a “niche opportunity.”
Hispanic Audiences Are Mainstream Audiences
In the U.S., the Hispanic population crested 60 million back in 2019. Growth continues nationwide, with the demographic shifts being particularly significant in certain regional markets. For example, in the New York DMA, which boasts the second-largest Hispanic population in the nation, the Hispanic audience currently comprises 25 percent of the total NY DMA population and is expected to grow 6 percent by 2026.
But it’s less about raw population numbers than it is about influence. These days, Hispanic audiences aren’t a trend. Rather, the audiences themselves are setting the trends. These audiences and influencers within them serve as a source of inspiration and innovation within all mainstream cultural channels, whether on TV or on social platforms. (Look no further than the J-Lo and Shakira Super Bowl LIV halftime show if you want to see an example of this inspiration and innovation at their most visible.)
Within the TV realm, the very nature of networks and programming has evolved to reflect the mainstream reality of Hispanic audiences. In recent years, targeted Hispanic networks have proliferated well beyond Telemundo and Univision, while nearly every major network has significantly expanded its amount of programming that targets and reflects the Hispanic culture in the U.S.
Hispanic Audiences Are Multidimensional
It’s important to note that the growing influence of Hispanic audiences is by no means monolithic in nature. Rather, today’s savviest advertisers are recognizing the need to pay the same degree of attention to diversity within their Hispanic campaigns as they do within their so-called “mainstream” campaigns. Hispanic audiences are dynamic, multifaceted, ever-changing, and incredibly discerning.
For advertisers, it’s always been important to listen to Hispanic consumers. But it’s not enough to just listen. You need to reflect on what you’re hearing back from them in the form of powerful storytelling that resonates with the unique and widely varying experiences of these individuals. This is increasingly important as Gen Z—the most ethnically and racially diverse generation ever—rises to prominence, right alongside its built-in expectations for diversity and inclusion as default in advertising.
It’s worth noting that storytelling—and subsequent relationship-building—within Hispanic communities requires commitment. Too many advertisers think they’ll “dip their toe” into Hispanic audience targeting, but that’s simply not going to cut it. Expanding marketing efforts to be inclusive of Hispanic audiences isn’t about a campaign. It’s not about a quick return. It’s about committing to a marketing plan to that is inclusive and reflective of the real American landscape.
In the same way that it would be folly to treat Hispanic audiences as a homogeneous entity, it also behooves marketers to remember that Hispanic populations look incredibly different from region to region—and creative needs to reflect that. National creative can be crafted in a way that resonates broadly, but regional and local buys should take the opportunity to reflect a more granular cultural nuance. Understanding the predominant Hispanic origin groups within a DMA—whether Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, or others—can provide key insights for how best to tailor creative and messaging for maximum relevance.
In the TV space, local and regional partners can often open doors to exclusive inventory on geographically relevant programming, such as sports and local news. This could include networks like ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes, high-profile Spanish-language broadcasts of major sporting events like the Super Bowl, and Spanish language local news networks. Working with regional partners can help brands better tailor their creative approaches to local Hispanic populations, and in some cases even leverage advanced targeting capabilities to identify Hispanic-speaking households and create custom segments to run across multiple platforms.
As a marketer, if you’re still talking about Hispanic audiences as “a trend to watch” or “an opportunity,” it’s time to reassess your media planning at a fundamental level. Hispanic audiences today aren’t “on the rise.” They’ve risen. They’re here. They’re an absolute business imperative for any brand trying to stay relevant among U.S. consumers.