Doritos tortilla chips and Tapatio hot sauce are two. And although she has yet to buy the Tapatio-flavored Doritos, she said the product is sure to strike a chord with certain consumers.
And while El Centro resident Manuela Ramos said bargain deals are often what compel her to purchase an item, she too is encouraged by the sight of American brand-name goods that have taken their inspiration from Latino consumers’ habits.
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“We are a big part of the population and that’s the stuff we need,” Ramos said in Spanish.
In recent years more and more companies and advertisers have been launching initiatives and products specifically aimed at attracting more Latino consumers. With reason too, considering that the purchasing power of U.S. Hispanics is expected to grow 48 percent to $1.6 trillion between 2011 and 2016, significantly higher than the growth rate of the general U.S. population’s buying power over that same period, which is projected to be 27.5 percent, according to a study by ISISWorld.
“Behavior modification is something advertising campaigns do,” said Laura Sonderup, managing director of Hispanidad, a Denver-based Hispanic marketing agency. “Yet it’s also a smart investment on the part of any company who appreciates their consumer base and prospective consumer base.”
There have been a few notable companies that have devoted the proper resources to the Latino consumer, Sonderup said. Yet she said she is equally frustrated by the number of companies that use general marketing buys in the hopes of reaching as wide an audience as possible.
Such campaigns, Sonderup said, are not effective uses of an advertising budget. Whether they are African-American, LGBT or Hispanic, each segment appreciates being spoken to in a meaningful way.
“Those who have stepped up in a robust and meaningful way are being rewarded with amazing returns on their investments,” Sonderup said.
The few companies that consistently devoted more than 25 percent of their advertising budgets to Latino media had seen sustained revenue growth over a five-year period, according to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
One of the more sought-after Hispanic consumers is the mother. And one of her more visible courters is General Mills.
In an effort to establish longer-lasting ties with its Spanish-speaking consumers, General Mills has developed a Spanish-language initiative that provides Latinas with culturally relevant lifestyle information called Que Rica Vida.
The program attempts to help the Hispanic mother “succeed in creating a healthier, easier, richer life for her and her family,” said Rudy Rodriguez, director of multicultural marketing at General Mills.
Such initiatives that stem from in-house multicultural marketing divisions are hardly limited to General Mills. General Motors, Google, T-Mobile and Kraft Foods are just a few others that have in-house Latino-oriented marketing teams.
Advertisers are also increasingly turning to cyberspace in search of Hispanic consumers, albeit not in the same numbers that prefer print and television ad campaigns.
The number of Latinos online in 2011 was estimated to be 32 million, or 63 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population, according to an eMarketer report.
Yet the number and percentage of advertisers targeting Latinos online falls short, said Lee Vann, chief executive officer of the Captura Group, a Hispanic online marketing agency.
“Less than 1 percent of advertisers’ budget will be spent advertising online to Latinos,” he said.
About $5 billion is spent by advertisers on Hispanics in total and online marketing makes up a small portion of that, Vann said.
While it’s true general marketing campaigns reach Latino audiences, by not tailoring the message directly at them, advertisers are running a risk on missing some segments, such as Spanish-dominant consumers or young Latinos.
In 2009 the median age of the Hispanic population was 27 years old, compared to 36 for the population as a whole, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Part (of the problem) is the perception that the Latino market is a monolithic group,” Vann said, noting that Hispanics are spending a lot more time online compared to the general population.
No surprise either that that segment is much more engaged with social media, Vann said.
“The advent of social media means the (marketing) strategy has changed a lot,” Vann said. “Facebook updates allow one to communicate in real time.”
Whereas in the past advertisers would write an article for a company Web site or make periodic site updates, social media has made customer interaction more fluid and dynamic, Vann said.
Staff Writer Julio Morales can be reached at 760-335-4665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.