Daisy Expósito-Ulla

OPINIÓN- Daisy Expósito-Ulla de d expósito & Partners: Marketers Need to Wake Up and Smell the Café
06 de junio de 2022

So much of our world has changed. Almost every aspect of our lives and livelihoods has been impacted in this post-COVID world. Besides the ongoing impact of the pandemic the Great Resignation and supply change challenges burgeoning technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, the Metaverse and SVOD platforms are changing every aspect of how we connect brands to consumers and develop long-lasting relationships. Is there anything that hasn’t changed?

The one constant over the past 20-to-30 years is that multicultural consumers, Hispanics, in particular are the growth engine. Not only have we accounted for 51% of our nations’ population growth, according to the U.S. Census, we’ve driven growth for many business verticals and brands. Hispanics have also long been known to be early adopters of new technologies, especially those that foster interpersonal connections and sharing of content. But while DE&I has pushed clients to hit the accelerator button, related to ensuring diversity and inclusivity in marketing and advertising, too many brands are relying on diverse mass campaigns that show blended families and a rainbow cast of colors without going deeper. Understandably, many brands think this is good enough to connect with the Hispanic audience and have ceased pursuing more customized, insights-driven campaigns. But is this the way to do it right?

Research now shows this approach to be a big mistake that is often based on the grave misconception that, since Gen Zers and Millennials are already about 50% multicultural, brand strategies and campaigns can be built on universal truths and insights while being framed within the general U.S. popular culture that is being influenced by these younger cohorts. And since roughly 60% of the Hispanic audience is U.S.-born, there’s a faulty assumption that there is a waning need for marketing in Spanish because younger Hispanics can be best engaged in English. Really? Nothing can be further from the truth, and this misguided approach is in serious need of course correction. Not only is Spanish an integral part of our culture that is here to stay, it shapes the way we think and express ourselves. It also influences how we consume media and make purchase decisions, even for Gen Zers and Millennials.

In early May, the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) showed that not only are language and culture significant contributors to advertising performance, they are crucial for building brand trust and preference. Their findings prove that while marketers created more ads with diversity, over the last year, there were far fewer ads (20%) that reflected culture. What’s more, accurate cultural reflections in ads declined during that same time. Consumers of all ages have greater expectations from brands, especially during these times where communities of color are experiencing grave disparities and being violently attacked based on racial bias and hate. Given the unyielding growth rate, it’s paramount that brands do the due diligence to connect on the Hispanic consumers’ terms  in language and in culture, in those much-needed nuances. Unfortunately, AIMM research shows that while there is greater diversity reflected in ads, scores that measure cultural representation are declining.

It’s true the Latino community has changed and evolved, but we’ve done so in ways that have nothing to do with the importance of language and culture. Hispanic affluence is growing across all levels of acculturation. The education gap has closed significantly; by half, in fact. Many more Latinos are graduating with bachelor’s degrees. Latinos are also leading the pursuit of advanced degrees, including masters and doctorate degrees. This means today’s youth are better prepped for professional jobs. They have also expressly stated their appreciation for their culture, identity and the Spanish language. This connection will only strengthen and deepen as they become parents, and given our societal push to embrace diversity, this will only become more profound. This is extremely important for brands to realize and take this into account.

With the growth of technology and the advent of new channels and platforms for engaging Hispanics in highly personal and culturally relevant ways, we can no longer assume that English-preferred Hispanics, born and raised here in the U.S., are consuming the same media as their non-Hispanic counterparts. Nielsen research shows that Latinos are 36% more likely to stream content because they have more choices of programming that reflect their culture, identities and lifestyles. Furthermore, the Kantar 2021 U.S. Monitor report reveals that 88% of U.S. Hispanics say they appreciate businesses that speak to them in Spanish, and 87% feel businesses that make a sincere effort to be part of, or invest in their communities, deserve their loyalty. Spanish continues to be embraced by Hispanics of all ages and socio-economic strata, but that’s not reflected in marketing; especially when one sees so many English-language ads airing on Spanish-language channels. This begs the question, “Is this money being well spent?”

Having been a champion for the Hispanic consumer that’s played an integral role in helping build the multicultural marketing industry for over the past 40 years, I ask myself, “How have we gotten here?” “Why have so many clients diluted their Hispanic marketing strategies and campaigns when so many research studies show and prove that Spanish and Hispanic culture are as important as ever?” Well, there are several dynamics at play. The clients’ lead agencies, which tend not to be multicultural experts per se, want to manage the entire business, and clients want those agencies to diversify. This is all understandable. Not only because it’s right and supports their DE&I efforts, but because they see efficiencies at hand if they keep everything with one shop. Then, there is the long-tail effects of the misinformed and failed (yet to disappear completely!) Total Market approach. Additionally, the growth in DE&I has introduced several new positions and players that are still scrambling to learn the intricacies of multicultural consumers and the real insights and best practices for engaging them. All of the above, plus the political climate in our country, has impacted where we are in multicultural marketing.

While Hispanics have not been totally overlooked, Hispanic marketing has certainly not been given the priority it merits given our size, growth trajectory and undisputable connection to culture and language. Now that the youngest consumer cohorts are majority-minority, brands need to realize that effective, truly effective! Hispanic marketing campaigns are a matter of survivorship. To win, however, they need to assign the budgets and resources that reflect the growth opportunity we represent. They also must surround themselves with real experts in Hispanic marketing and advertising; not just to avoid potential pitfalls but to unearth powerful strategies and campaigns that will deeply connect and drive their business growth into the future.

Daisy Expósito-Ulla
President & CEO d expósito & Partners