Is There a Blind Spot in Your Marketing Strategy?

If you have not considered marketing to Latinos, you might be missing a growth opportunity. The Latino consumer market is the fastest growing segment in America with spending power to the tune of $1.7 trillion—the equivalent of capturing a share of the Canadian or Mexican economy.

Currently, Latinos account for 1 in 5 Americans and soon will constitute 1 in 3 of the U.S. population.  Moreover, more than half of the U.S. Hispanic population is under the age of 29. Additionally, 25% of Generation Z, (3 to-23 years old) the largest generation group in the U.S., is Hispanic.

Latinos are well-connected and a powerful social force. They communicate more frequently with family, friends, and colleagues than non-Hispanics. According to the Keller Fay Group, compared to other ethnic groups, Latinos talk 20 times more about brands, and are 5 times more likely to share shopping recommendations according to CivicScience.  This means outreach to Hispanics can boost your marketing investment. Specifically, an earned media multiplier effect—brand awareness and peer influence—can result in an increased ROI.

If you are developing a Latino marketing campaign, let’s take a look at three potential blind spots:

Engaging Latino

Strategy goes nowhere unless it starts with the customer. John Sculley in his book Moonshot, advises the reader to put the customer at the center of abusiness concept. This is especially relevant with a diverse audience. You wouldn’t market to customers in a different country the same way you would market to the typical U.S. consumer, would you?  The Latino community is no different.

Culture matters to tell authentic stories and to create remarkable experiences. We have to recognize that not everyone is the same. Customers look at content through their personal lens of values, knowledge, experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.

Designing relevant marketing, communications and experiences, means creating messages and moments that your audience can identify with and say, “They are speaking to me,” “This is for me,” or “I can see myself.”  In other words, strive for cultural affinity. Why? Because Latino consumers will pay more attention, trust the brand more, and will be more likely to take action.

This means looking at each segment of the Latino population and considering their living context, values, aspirations, needs, motivations, and challenges, to design programs that achieve cultural affinity and relevancy.  According to theNielsen TV Brand EffectSurvey, advertising and programs that have cultural affinity are more impactful, as general population advertising doesn’t always resonate with Hispanic audiences.

English vs.Spanish-Language.

Think differently. It is not about English or Spanish. It is about language plus culture, context, and content. Language depends on the Latino audience segment and their language of comfort.

The Nielsen study found that Spanish-language ads perform better than English-language ads among Hispanic adults in terms of ad type, brand, and message memorability. These ads perform more than twice as well in likability. However, this does not mean doing a literal translation from English to Spanish.

It is frequently believed that English is the default language for bilingual Hispanics. However, Univision found this is one of the largest misperceptions. Bilingual Latinos speak in the language that is most appropriate to what they’re doing. For example, when looking at online videos, 74% of third-generation bilingual Latinos consume videos in Spanish.

On the other hand, younger Latinos are more comfortable speaking and consuming content in English. However, younger Latinos are watching more Spanish-language videos on streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube, and actively seeking out and enjoying content tailored to them as Latinos. According to eMarketer,73% of third-generation Hispanics said they consume online videos “that speak to their Hispanic/Latino heritage.”  Why? Because retaining their culture is very important to them.

Language matters but is just one part of the equation. This underscores the need for brands to connect with Hispanics in a culturally-relevant way. Just because Hispanics are consuming content in English, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incorporate Spanish into marketing campaigns, or because Latinos prefer speaking in Spanish you should do a direct translation into Spanish.

Building Online with Offline Experiences.

Customer trust is based on consumers sharing their experiences with other consumers online and offline. Word-of-mouth is the leading influencer of consumer purchase decisions in the U.S.  Notably, TV, radio, print, digital media, and offline events have a strong role to play in influencing word-of-mouth purchasing decisions.

Latinos are very active on social media, sharing posts and comments on issues specific to their communities and culture. Online and offline experiences give them an opportunity to build a relationship with the brand and ammunition to talk about it. Over 68% of Hispanic brand mentions referenced some form of online or offline marketing, compared to 60% of non-Hispanics.

The Keller Fay Groupstudy found that Hispanics are not only more likely to engage in word-of-mouth than the general public, but also more likely to pass along the information they hear to others.  What’s better than learning about a product or service than from people you know and trust?

Remember, emotions drive people to action and people tend to conform to what others are doing.  So igniting an emotion and making content more observable makes it easier to talk, share, and take action when the content and experience is cultural relevant.

Social Determinants of Health: Addressing Equity with Strategic Communications

Authored by Ⓒ Selena A. Ramkeesoon, MBA, PMP, MLS

Good health and coping with the inevitable challenges one encounters during a lifetime are a journey. Inadequate resources make a successful journey harder. At an individual level, lack of personal resources such as income and knowledge, limit an individual’s ability to follow optimal paths to health and vice versa. At a macro level, our society has a finite amount of resources—both monetary and service‐related—that realistically will not provide everything to everyone. We do not naturally think about health in terms of social factors. However, our health is significantly affected by our homes, jobs, and schools. The social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions—and their distribution among the population—influencing individual and group differences in health status.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action. Healthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing the social determinants of health by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of the four overarching goals for the decade. This emphasis is shared by the World Health Organization, whose Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2008 published the report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.

We generally recognize five determinants of health of a population:

1. Biology and genetics (e.g., gender).
2. Individual behavior (e.g., alcohol or injection drug-use, unprotected sex, smoking).
3. Social environment (e.g., income, education level, marital status).
4. Physical environment (e.g., place of residence, population density, built environment).
5. Health services (e.g., access to and quality of care, insurance coverage).

Although we do not know the exact impact of each of these five determinants of population health, in theory, social environment, physical environment, and health services (which combined make up social determinants of health) represent 50 percent of the factors that influence population health. This leaves us subject to our choices and circumstances for safe and affordable housing, access to quality education and job training, public safety, health services, and availability of healthy foods. These factors and social patterning of health, disease, and illness often plague individuals seeking to break the vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes. These are key factors in health inequity or health disparity—a particular type of difference in health (or in the determinants of health that could be shaped by policies)—in which disadvantaged social groups systematically experience worse health or more health risks than do more advantaged social groups.

As a social marketing professional who has developed and implemented several health campaigns, I believe communicators must take into consideration and address each of the determinants when developing awareness and education programs; especially when we seek to reach and encourage action among special populations. For example, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, women, children, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ populations. It is these populations who are often heavily impacted and in the greatest need of such health messaging. Yet, it is also the same populations who are often “stuck” in a vicious cycle of barriers that prohibit them from making positive lifestyle changes.

Social determinants challenge us to take into consideration a person’s/or population’s environment and circumstances to appropriately develop messages and strategies that resonate, reaching the audience at the right time and in the right place, and that are realistic—meaning that audience circumstances truly allow them to act in the desired manner. Behavior change is difficult and individuals cannot do it themselves without support. Behavior change communication programs are designed to bring about behaviors that will improve health status and related long-term outcomes. Such programs are key to providing the support structure that help people make the necessary health changes in their lives. Effective action to address the social determinants of health requires having sufficient knowledge of the mechanisms influencing health inequities, and adopting a conceptual framework that not only clarifies the relationship between social determinants and health inequities, but also helps to identify entry points for intervention.

This article was written by Dr. Selena A. Ramkeesoon. Selena is a communications strategist in the Washington, DC metro area. Ⓒ 2019, Selena A. Ramkeesoon. All Rights Reserved.