Brands need new insights to connect to Hispanics

  This year’s AHAA conference, “Thinking Under the Influence: The Next Five Years, from April 28th through 30th in Miami Beach, will bring to light just…

Linda Lane Gonzalez and Aldo Quevedo, chair of AHAA and principal/creative director of Richards/Lerma will be part of the “Thinking Under the Influence” conference. (Photo Courtesy of AHAA)

This year’s AHAA conference, “Thinking Under the Influence: The Next Five Years, from April 28th through 30th in Miami Beach, will bring to light just how much Hispanic marketing has evolved over the past few years, as well as how it’s likely to change in the near future.

Linda Lane Gonzalez, Chair-Elect of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing and this year’s conference chairman, spoke to VOXXI to share her insight on that evolution.

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She described a marketplace in which the Hispanic consumer holds increasing sway, with companies embracing new strategies for marketing specifically to this demographic. During the AHAA conference, Gonzalez hopes to see brands, marketing agencies, and the media leave with new insights into how connect to the Hispanic, and often Spanish-speaking, community.

Question: How has Hispanic marketing changed or shifted over the past few years?

Answer: There has been a shift especially on behalf of the brands and clients themselves. Ten years ago they just looked at the market as more of a niche. I think clients have, in the past, seen the Hispanic market as just a language, but it’s more than a language: it’s about a culture. It’s taken a good number of years for clients to understand that.

Even 10, 20 years ago, clients were still translating their general market spots, mirroring what they were doing in the general market with the Hispanic market. But now their eyes are open to the possibilities, and they want to be genuine and authentic and communicate with Hispanics in a relevant way.

Q: How has the conference expanded this year?

A: This year we want to talk about being “under the influence,” but we really want to hear from the people: so much has happened over the past year.

New networks are coming on board, like the several networks that have started over the last couple years that use both English and Spanish, speaking to that very diverse Hispanic consumer— for instance, Robert Rodriguez is launching El Rey Network, so we want to hear from him.

We want to hear from our speakers how they’ve been doing and where they see their business going: all of the sudden it became cool to be Latino, just in the last five years. What can we be looking for in the next five years? How will the culture continue to thrive? What is going to happen to the language?

Q: What’s important in advertising to the Latino community?

A: What’s important are the numbers: there are 53 million Hispanics in the U.S. now, and the Hispanic consumer is much younger than the non-Hispanic general consumer. The average age of a Hispanic consumer is 26; the average age of a general consumer is 41.

Martin Sorrell will be speaking at the AHAA Conference.

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, attended the AHAA’s 2013 Conference. (Photo Courtesy of AHAA)

So Hispanics are the ones buying diapers and food and Telecom products. They’re generating a lot of those purchases. It’s also really important just knowing that the Hispanic consumer is rich in culture, in the foods we eat, in music.

Many brands have recognized that they will only grow if they focus on the Hispanic market. Lots of bigger markets, like Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Miami know that: if you don’t garner the loyalty of the Hispanic market, you’re not going to grow. Walmart just said that 100 percent of their growth in the next year will come from multicultural consumers. One hundred percent!

A lot of the food brands that sell to Walmart are recognizing that, too. Everything they do is multicultural now. They recognize that this is going to drive growth, and they’ve made changes to make that happen. They don’t have a multicultural “silo” anymore.

Q: What do you hope the impact of the conference will be?

A: We hope that the marketers—the brands that are attending—are going to get new consumer insights to help them learn more about their consumers, like how to communicate with and engage them. For agencies, what’s new, what’s up and coming, and how Hispanic millennials are consuming media. We want to give them those kinds of insights so they can help their clients engage with consumers.

On the other hand, we have media. They’re at the forefront of communicating. We want to help them so that they can make decisions in the next five years about where they’re going: where are the holes in their current strategies?

It’s a learning experience and it’s very exciting to provide these insights. Some will take a completely new experience home.