As the largest ethnic group in the United States, Hispanics and Latinos contribute significantly to the country’s culture, politics, and economy. While this may not be news to some, brands still struggle finding ways to connect with our Hispanic and Latino community. Our vibrant and diverse community is a growing consumer segment with a purchasing power of over $2.8 trillion and is driving growth in many industries, including entertainment, food and beverage, and fashion.
While Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th to October 15th) acknowledges the culture, traditions, and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos, engaging with our community shouldn’t stop there.
So, how can your brand connect with the Hispanic and Latino community beyond Hispanic Heritage Month? We’ve got you covered!
5 Ways to Connect with the Hispanic and latino community year-round
Navigating the Diversity of our Hispanic and Latino Community
Remember, Hispanic and Latino identities are complex and multifaceted. People from our community come from various countries, regions, and socio-economic backgrounds. They celebrate different traditions, religions, and cultural practices. Understanding this diversity will keep you from stereotyping or lumping the community into a monolithic group. Conduct research, engage with local communities, and hire diverse talent to ensure your brand’s inclusive.
1. Understand Our Unique Language
Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world and the most common language spoken by Hispanics and Latinos in the United States. Communicating in Spanish can build trust, make your brand more accessible, and create emotional connections. However, not all Latinos and Hispanics speak Spanish. Some speak very little, and others embrace Spanglish. While language may be a part of some of our heritage, it doesn’t make anyone more or less Hispanic or Latino if they speak the language.
Additionally, you can’t rely on machine translations to create content in Spanish. Our language is vast and diverse. Not every word will mean the same across our countries. For example, we have at least 11 ways to say straw in Spanish. If you would like to include Spanish in your content, we recommend hiring professional translators. They can help you check for cultural nuances and use broad language to be inclusive to all of our communities. Above all, get to know your audience and focus on creating content that resonates with them.
2. Avoid Using Cultural Celebrations to Represent our Entire Community
Hispanics and Latinos celebrate various religious and cultural holidays and events yearly. For example, Dia de Muertos is celebrated across the Americas, with its primary root coming from Mexico. This Holiday brings us intricate calaveras decorations (sugar skulls), cempasuchil (Aztec marigold flowers) that are meant to guide the spirits of our loved ones to the altars, papel picado (intricate cut paper) to decorate the streets and altars for the visit of our loved ones, candles to light the way, along with other personal items that connect to our what our loved ones cherished during life.
This sacred tradition is typically celebrated between November 1 and 2, not all year. Creating branded content or marketing campaigns that are used year-round but pull visual representations from this holiday will fall flat. Plus, it doesn’t include our diverse Hispanic or Latino population.
Instead, look at the flora and fauna from our countries as inspiration. Explore our intersection of textiles, shapes, and colors that can unite our communities without excluding others.
The branding project we did for Offeraki is a great example of this! Okeraki is mobile cultural mercado dedicated to Latino and Hispanic users in the U.S. Our goal was to design a brand strategy that emphasized our vibrancy and cultural needs. Every element of the Offeraki branding is intentional—even the interaction design among buyers/sellers within the app!
3. Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion in Your Branding Efforts
Diversity and inclusion have become a buzzword for some, but it’s crucial to making our community feel seen and represented. When consumers feel that they are well represented, their loyalty to the brand increases, which naturally will increase sales. Hispanics and Latinos contribute to $2.8 trillion in the GDP, if we were a stand-alone nation, we would be the 5th in the world.
These statistics mean that incorporating Hispanic and Latino representation in your marketing campaigns, hiring practices, and corporate social responsibility initiatives is more important than ever.
Our community is a mix of Afro-Latinos, Indigenous, Asian-Latinos, Caribeans, and Eurpoeans. We never look the same because we are so diverse, and we highly recommend removing “you don’t look Hispanic or Latino from your language.” Misrepresentation not only fuels bias across cultures, it creates division within our communities that all have beautiful traditions and heritage to share.
4. Provide Relevant Products and Services
Understanding the needs and preferences of our Hispanic and Latino communities is essential in providing relevant products and services. Currently, Gen Z’s largest demographic is Hispanic and Latino. Investing in our community should start now because we will continue to grow.
With this in mind, brands need to be more intentional about how they are reaching this market. Forcing a connection can create a backlash. For example, the NFL launched a campaign to connect to the Hispanic and Latino influence. In their campaign, they added the ~ symbol over the N to make the ñfl. They mistakenly called this symbol a tilde instead of calling it virgulilla. And whats even worse, tried to use it in a way that doesn’t make sense in our language. It may have seemed like a clever marketing approach, but the meaning didn’t resonate with our community. This is why looking at every element of your brand communication is crucial when trying to reach the Latino and Hispanic market.
Appropriation is another issue to be aware of when marketing to our community. Brands like Taco Bell (considered Tex-Mex) dismantle traditional Mexican food and attempt to re-name them something more appealing to non-Hispanics or Latinos. For instance, the term “Mexican Pizza” is not a type of food in Mexican cuisine. And a “Mexican Rolled Chicken Tacos” is actually called Flautas. This approach causes division within our communities and tells consumers that the culture and traditions of other communities are less appealing.
Imagine if these brands had taken a different approach.
What if the NFL had connected with some of their Latino and Hispanic players and used it as an opportunity to share about their backgrounds? And while the owner of Taco Bell isn’t Hispanic or Latino, they could highlight how Mexican cuisine inspired the root of their products. Or they could speak about how they wanted to create a fusion or non-traditional approach while still honoring the traditional foods that inspired their products.
5. Partner with Experts and Community Leaders
Experts, cultural organizations, and community leaders are critical voices in the Hispanic and Latino communities and are incredibly valuable resources for your brand. These leaders and organizations have a strong presence on social media and at local events and show a positive approach to tackling some of our struggles as a community. They serve as a voice of empowerment that highlights our contributions.
When seeking a partner, it’s crucial to connect with those who don’t create divides. Look at what language they use for inclusion. As a multicultural company, this is a fundamental approach for us! Inclusion within our community shouldn’t mean exclusion of others. For example, partnering with someone who’s saying “We’re not Mexicans, stop confusing us with Mexicans.” could create potential pitfalls and separation in our community. If we want to create inclusive environments, a better approach might be, “We all come from different cultural backgrounds and countries with rich traditions, but generalizing who we are loses out on the rich and beautiful diversity we offer.”
If your brand wants to expand into our market, collaborating with experts, cultural organizations, and community leaders, can amplify your brand’s message, reach new audiences, and build trust. However, it’s important to do ample research, find someone who can align with your brand’s values, and create a natural connection to our community. Otherwise, it will come off feeling disingenuous.
As you can see, connecting with the Hispanic and Latino community beyond Hispanic Heritage Month requires understanding, respect, and authenticity. When you invest the time and energy, your brand can build relationships and trust with this significant and growing consumer segment. In today’s business landscape, brands that invest in diversity and inclusion will thrive, and the Hispanic and Latino community is an excellent place to start.