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Case Study: Marketing to Upscale Hispanics — the Why and How

Challenge assumptions about affluent Latinos to generate leads and differentiate your brand.

Whether in a social or professional context, I eventually get asked, “Why is Hispanic marketing needed?  When you shop for [fill in the blank], you don’t bring your Latino culture into it—you just search for the best deal.”  Both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike have raised that question.

For those who have asked themselves the same question, here’s some food for thought.

How One Company Responded to Population Changes

Jim Bilello, a fellow MENG member, was approached by an Anglo-owned Marketing to Upscale Hispanicscertified BMW and Lexus auto body shop that has been in business for 30 years and is located in the affluent Chicago suburb of Lake Bluff, IL.  The owners recognized the change in the demographics of their shop’s trade area and that Hispanics own luxury cars, are active online users, and like to interact in Spanish even if they speak English very well.  Therefore, they engaged Jim to launch a Spanish-language digital campaign to promote their business.  As expected, they have gotten many calls from new Latino customers that own BMW and Lexus automobiles.

Jim approached the assignment by delivering Spanish language advertising triggered by search terms entered into Google in English.  The ad below drove over 60 clicks to the client’s website in the past couple of months.  By the way, the client did not have to translate their entire website into Spanish to follow through on the ad.  They only placed a simple “Se Habla Español” next to their phone numbers and made sure that their Spanish speaking mechanics would be available to answer any calls.  From this campaign the client also learned that Hispanic prospects valued speaking to the person who would actually work on their car.

Marketing to Upscale Hispanics AdAuto Repair
Highly Qualified Technicians
Specialized in Restorations

Why Marketing to Upscale Hispanics Is Desirable

Jim’s example is not a one-hit wonder. As far back as 2006, Toyota’s Lexus brand launched its first ever website in Spanish in response to R.L. Polk & Co. data revealing that Hispanic luxury vehicle registrations were up +53% from 2002 to 2006 while overall luxury vehicle registrations had increased +13% (HispanicBusiness.com). By 2013, the luxury auto market had been growing at the low end with companies targeting such smaller models to younger consumers, Hispanics, and women.

A similar trend can be observed in other industries.  According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of Hispanic first time home buyers surged +38% between 2010 and 2011.  Consumption follows the rising affluence of U.S. Hispanics—from 2000 to 2010, the number of Hispanic households with incomes greater than $75,000 (upscale Latinos) more than doubled, growing three times faster than the number of non-Hispanic upscale households.  As of 2010 there were 2.9 million upscale Latinos households, 55% of them with incomes greater than $100,000.  While the affluent only represent over one-fifth of all Hispanic households, they generate one-half of the aggregate income of Latino households with a buying power that reached $543 billion in 2011, according to Packaged Facts estimates.

Three Reasons Why Jim’s Approach Worked

  1. Affluent Hispanics are digitally-savvy shoppers.  Upscale Latino consumers accounted for 66% of all Latinos who spent $1,000 or more online in 2011.  Nearly half (48.5%) of Hispanic consumers (vs. 32% of non-Hispanics) use mobile devices for local shopping, that is, from researching to buying products and services within a 25-mile radius of their home.
  2. Online Latinos embrace cultural duality.  Though the majority of Hispanics (63%) use the internet only or mostly in English, 80% of Hispanic online users speak Spanish at home.  While upscale Latinos focus on educational attainment and achieving upward mobility they are also about as likely as other Latinos to agree that “a woman’s place is in the home.”  Aspiration and family values make owning a luxury car or home a more emotional endeavor for Hispanics.  Hence, it makes sense that inviting them to consider a brand in their preferred “home” language would generate the level of interest seen by Jim’s client.
  3. Calling in was the standard first touch point.  There was no need to fully translate the client’s website into Spanish because a phone call or visit is the usual way that any potential customer engages with a body shop for the first time.  This may not work when a brand’s standard user experience is anchored around online self-serve.  See 4 Questions to Ask Before Targeting Hispanics Online to think through whether a fully functional website in Spanish is (or is not) needed to meet the expectations of Hispanic site visitors.

While Jim’s approach may or may not be the right one for your brand, the most important takeaway here is to examine your assumptions before dismissing Hispanic marketing as a growth initiative. Start by investing the time to take a separate look at your sales performance and customer experience among Hispanics—perhaps you will find an untapped brand building opportunity.

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Jim Bilello has been marketing to Millennials 18-34 for over 20 years, having led McDonald’s “LoMcXimo de la Musica” at Clear Channel Entertainment and distributed Hollywood films to colleges and universities nationwide.  He founded US Marketing in 2004, which has delivered multicultural marketing initiatives  for clients such as Chase Bank, Aetna, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Verizon Wireless, and NBC/Universal.  US Marketing was chosen as a Google Engage agency partner in 2012 following its success with the State of Illinois “Don’t Drink and Drive” and “Don’t Text and Drive” campaigns.
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About Sandra Diaz

Sandra Diaz, founder of DIAZ & CO., advises corporations on how to increase sales and market share by meeting the unique needs of U.S. Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans. Drawing on over 15 years of experience as a marketing executive at L’Oréal Paris, Sears, Sara Lee and Colgate Palmolive plus a Kellogg MBA, Sandra delivers strategic solutions and business training that equip DIAZ & CO. clients to effectively capitalize on multicultural market growth.

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