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Misconceptions About Marketing To The Latino Community

Jun 17, 2008
There are many exaggerated claims about the Latino community as a market. Often businesses blindly pursue these markets without taking consideration how it is that there is a demand for their goods of services.

The reality is that even though there is a very large Latino population they are not really commonly bonded by their language and in fact they are actually fragmented. There are new immigrants; there are old immigrants; there are Latinos from Old Mexico that have been here for hundreds of years; there are first generation; there are second generation; there are Latinos from Mexico; there are Latinos from Cuba, there are Latinos from Puerto Rico; and there are Latinos from many other Central America and South American countries.

Even though Latinos are broadly categorized as Latinos they are not all going to respond the same. Recent immigrants that have been in the country a couple of years are radically different from immigrants that have been around for 20 years. Generally speaking those that speak very little English or that prefer to deal in Spanish are at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. First generation and often immigrants that came to this country as very young children speak little or no Spanish at all. This of course holds true the majority of the time, but even so we can't say that those that prefer to speak to deal in Spanish are always at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.

Television, newspaper, and radio reach primarily immigrants and often exaggerate the statistical data. It is true that there are huge Latino populations, but their reach is limited. As a rule only about 50% of Latino population can be reached with media directed to the Spanish speaking community. Statistical data will confirm from the U.S. Census shows a picture that is very different from the data that is skewed when presented by sales people. The other 50% can best be reached through different demographics. Contrary to popular belief the Latino population is actually assimilating just as quickly as other groups have in the past and even though the Latino population is growing the number of Spanish speaking Latinos grows primarily through immigration.

The media directed to the Spanish speaking community can be effective for organizations trying to reach the Latino community when they are offering goods and services that are more of the nature of commodities such as food, cell phone service, low and medium priced attire, and to some extent specialty items such as western attire, but these consumers are not prime consumers for higher end or more sophisticated products.

Some organizations seem not to understand that there is no one large Latino population and invest heavily in marketing efforts and are often disappointed by the results. What some business organizations also don't take into consideration is that some efforts are actually counterproductive. Mass mailings for individuals with Spanish last names for example are not well received. It is offensive for well educated Latinos that speak the English language well to be targeted with Spanish language junk mail, telemarketing, or person to person solicitation.

Other problems that businesses seem to ignore is that you actually need Spanish speaking staff to deliver these goods and services. What is the cost to a business when Spanish speaking clients set foot at your business and there is no one to provide service? There are also laws pertaining to dealing with Spanish speaking clients. Once have the customers and the staff, you need a support system, which includes Spanish literature and contracts. If the transaction is negotiated in Spanish in many states, and certainly in California, you are required to provide a Spanish language translation. If the documents are not translated and the negotiations are conducted in Spanish, the customer has the right o rescind the contract.

At the end of it all if you are not prepared to actually service the Latino community, you may end up with lost sales huge legal bills to boot. A few businesses have experienced this first hand when they hire unethical sales persons that try to take advantage of Latino consumers, especially in larger transactions that usually have some sort of a written contract such as car sales.
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