Hispanic Heritage Month – Q&A with Ruder Finn & RF Comunicad Leadership

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Editor’s Note: As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, business leaders have an opportunity to tap into the Latino community’s explosive growth and buying power. CommPRO sat down with Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO, Ruder Finn, and Gloria Rodriguez, Founder, President/CEO, RF Comunicad, to discuss Hispanic marketing trends such as the 47.1% increase in Hispanic homeownership, and the fact that Hispanics were responsible for 81% of US labor force growth, among other statistics that show the importance of this community as a loyal, diverse and growing consumer group.

Q: What differentiates the Hispanic population from other consumer segments? 

Gloria Rodriguez 

Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S. and the fastest growing ethnicity – the 2020 Census revealed this group accounted for 51% of all population growth. Not only are Hispanics increasing in numbers, but they are also rapidly rising in affluence. They are the fast-growing demographic of households with incomes higher than 150k+. 

Companies should not underestimate the importance of better understanding the values and preferences of the Hispanic community. A largely untapped market, Hispanic marketing trends show the importance of this community as a loyal, diverse, and growing consumer group. Their explosive growth and buying power will have a profound impact on our economy, and overall society, in the coming years. 

Q: Why is it important for communicators and marketers to be culturally intelligent? How can brands establish trust to better reach the Hispanic community?

Gloria Rodriguez 

At RF Comunicad, Cultural intelligence is our guiding light to creating meaningful and targeted campaigns. We are always doing our best to remain critically aware of our own biases and the ways in which we learn and think, to better understand different populations and bridge the cultural gaps among them. By recognizing shifts in the market that impact Latino cultural differences and biases, we can deliver campaigns that successfully and authentically resonate with this population. 

It’s crucial to understand that Hispanics are not uniform and in fact, they are the most nuanced demographic in the U.S. To build trust, companies need to be intentional in their multicultural efforts. Hispanics are representative of 21 Spanish speaking nations – all of which have their own culture and history. 

Kathy Bloomgarden

To Gloria’s point, it’s incredibly important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach – to be culturally intelligent is to acknowledge that many nationalities exist underneath the Hispanic umbrella, and each group has different traditions, motivations, values and more. 

Hispanic Americans’ values are strongly rooted in their heritage and ancestry. Family and sense of community have a powerful influence on the ways in which they interact with brands, which explains why Hispanics are leading in brand word-of-mouth, and why brand loyalty is often passed down generationally. According to a Kantar study, nearly 60% of Latinos seek out brands that acknowledge their unique cultural traditions and about the same agree that their cultural heritage has a large influence on their purchase decisions.  

When building trust then, we must recognize that Hispanics are not a homogeneous group and therefore, should not be categorized as a whole. Marketers who narrow down their target demographic – and tap into the unique values and preferences of that demographic – are more likely to create more meaningful connections between the consumer and brand. 

Q: How can marketers tailor their strategies to resonate with the Hispanic community?

Kathy Bloomgarden

Brands need to view their products and services from a cultural lens, and continuously innovate to meet Hispanic consumer needs. A study revealed that 88% of U.S. Hispanics appreciate businesses that communicate to them in Spanish, emphasizing the importance of accessible, bilingual offerings. When considering creative ways to connect with the community, we can take a page from Procter & Gamble’s playbook. The company launched a campaign called “I am a modern Latina.” As part of the initiative, P&G released a series of videos on their digital platform, Orgullosa, which was created with the goal of engaging bicultural Hispanic women. The campaign celebrated the achievements of influential Hispanic women and overall, was extremely successful in engaging the Latina community online. 

Aside from providing more inclusive offerings, marketers can build excitement for their brands through spokespeople or ambassadors. The data tells us that Hispanics are the most likely to pay attention to influencer recommendations – more so than any other ethnicity. Although as previously mentioned, we also know that Hispanics place greatest amount of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from those within their network. With both these points in mind, we can understand how use of smaller-scale, community-based social influencers are deemed as highly effective for engaging with Hispanics. Those considered to be micro influencers attract a niche but tightknit community, and in turn, successfully replicate that personal, authentic connection that this group values most.

Ultimately, Hispanics – like all other population cohorts – want their values to be acknowledged and appreciated. 

Gloria Rodriguez 

Absolutely – a value-centered approach is key, and I would also say it’s equally as important to consider how cultural beliefs reinforce behavior. 

For instance, in Central and South America, it’s common for people to not wear seatbelts. Even more, parents are more likely to hold their babies on their lap while driving, as opposed to strapping them into a car seat. Now, that’s not to say they’re not concerned about the safety of the child, in fact, it’s quite the opposite – parents felt their child would be safer in their arms than they would be sitting behind them, out of their sight. When a car company enlisted Comunicad’s help to reach the Hispanic market, our challenge was to prove the value of spending money on a car seat and ultimately, to reshape the cultural disposition toward car seats.

Our team’s deep understanding that the togetherness, safety, and protection of the family unit is a core value, combined with our strategic grassroots approach, brought this campaign to fruition. We partnered with local leaders in the community, such as doctors – who are viewed as very well-respected and trusted sources of information – to break down the concept of the seats and reinforce its safety. Our approach was extremely successful in increasing car seat sales but more importantly, it also resulted in significantly less car accident-related deaths of Hispanic children in the U.S. 

Q: To what extent should marketers consider the Gen Z cohort as it relates to multicultural marketing efforts? 

Gloria Rodriguez 

Generation Z, which is already a multicultural majority, will be more than a quarter Hispanic by 2027. They are leading the way in the Hispanic population growth, and are becoming the main engine for population and economic change in the U.S. 

Gen Z is made up of digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. Take that into consideration, along with the fact that Hispanic social network users lead in both mobile device usage and social media consumption, and it’s clear why marketers should tailor their social media marketing strategies to reach Gen Z Hispanics. 

Kathy Bloomgarden

I think it’s also important to note that Gen Z has certain expectations for the brands they choose to support. This generation’s brand loyalty is dependent on a company’s efforts to being transparent, environmentally conscious, and DE&I-focused. We know by now that the younger generation certainly has no problems voicing their demands and calling out companies’ missteps. A recent study reveals 94% of Gen Z expects companies to take a stand on important social issues – a clear indicator that companies need to consider how their values align with the causes Gen Z cares about as part of their marketing strategies. 

The digital piece deserves closer examination as well, as Gloria pointed out. Hispanic consumers trend young, are extremely social media savvy, and gravitate toward short-form, interactive video content. Eighty percent of Gen Z report using social media to learn about new brands, with TikTok (27%) being the top place they’re seeing ads that influence them to make a purchase. Understanding the platforms Gen Zers are flocking toward, can help brands refine their marketing approaches to better resonate with this population. 

The bottom line is Gen Z represents the future and is a crucial cohort for marketers to consider in their multicultural efforts.