mari-escamillaIncreased buying power and consumer loyalty are a few reasons to target U.S. Hispanics, but understanding the cultural nuances within this widely diverse market is essential for success.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic market is the single largest ethnic group in the United States and contributes one trillion dollars in buying power. Although they actively embrace new technology platforms, U.S. Hispanics are very loyal and regularly remain faithful to their roots, especially their native language. This type of behavior is known as acculturating, or incorporating traits from other cultures while also keeping traditional customs and native language close.

The U.S. Hispanic market can be divided into three subdivisions: non-acculturated, semi-acculturated and fully-acculturated.

Non-acculturated Hispanics are those who have recently immigrated to the U.S., navigate only within Latino culture, and prefer to speak Spanish. Semi-acculturated Hispanics also include those who have immigrated to the U.S.

However, this group is able to navigate both cultures and is typically bilingual. Fully-acculturated Hispanics are those who were born in the U.S. and are of Hispanic descent. They prefer to speak English and can navigate the Latino culture.

Today, non-acculturated Hispanics make up the largest subdivision of the Hispanic market. In this group, the Spanish language remains a fundamental component of the Hispanic home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the majority of Hispanics over the age of eighteen prefer to speak Spanish at home.

This fact emphasizes the growing need for advertisers to better connect with Hispanics in their native language in order to develop relationships with the greatest number of Hispanic consumers most effectively.

Acculturation tied to source of influence

Knowing the subcultures of the Hispanic market, as well as the country of origin also plays a big role for advertisers to detect key influencers. Non-acculturated Hispanics mostly from Mexico and Central America are primarily influenced by churches, discos, Wal-Mart, video stores, bus stops, and street corners.

Semi-acculturated Hispanics mainly comprised of those from South America, Cuba and Puerto Rico, are more inclined to be influenced by Hispanic organizations, professional associations, the workplace and airports, while the fully-acculturated Hispanics are typically native to the U.S. and persuaded by professional associations and alumni organizations.

The acculturated millennial

Over the next 45 years, there will be a shift in culture from a generation of predominately non-acculturated, traditional Hispanics to a new generation of fully-acculturated, Hispanic millennials. As the Hispanic millennial generation continues to grow, it is easy to see that time plays a larger role than age, as this generation is influenced by what they have access to, and age poses no obstacles when it comes to obtaining media.

This shift in generation, not age, will affect media consumption, forcing new media to target the growing second and third generation U.S. Hispanics (Hispanic millennials) who are largely influenced by social media.

The Hispanic millennials are a large growing target audience and will grow exponentially over time. This group has incorporated American values while also embracing parts of their culture, including family, music and food.

New generation, new media mix

Hispanic millennials are the most willing to consume media. They are heavy users of mobile devices and social media reigns predominant to other forms of advertising, allowing for direct lines of communication with this growing market. Now through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, advertisers and savvy communications professionals are able to create ads and branded content that speaks to both predominately Spanish, predominantly English and bilingual Hispanic users.

Advertisers have access to the language, culture, likes and dislikes of this generation that they are able to use to create a tight bond with their audience.

The new generation of Hispanic millennials, like all other millennials, want to stand out, be seen, and more importantly, be represented in general markets. In order to best relate to this market, it is important to reflect the world they live in, know their influencers, and connect with them on a multi-language level. Brands like Corona, Dish, ESPN and Hyundai have made efforts in the visible shift toward mainstream Hispanic marketing.

In an effort to appeal to the multicultural disposition of the Hispanic millennials, these brands produced ads in both Spanish and English, which aired during the World Cup in 2014. This versatility allows advertisers to reach a larger Hispanic market as well as express the tradition of the Hispanic culture in an attempt to better relate to this generation.

As the generation of Hispanic millennials continues to grow while also cherishing their native language and immersing themselves into American culture, advertisers must recognize what this generation values in order to best target them. This includes: relating to their culture by recognizing the struggles of previous generations, the strong connection they share with family, and the value they hold in being able to identify with both American and Hispanic culture.

So, what does all this mean for the PR community? The art of crafting a message to target a U.S. Hispanic will be more difficult than ever. It is not a one-size-fits-all model based on the segmentation above. Some of the messages will be through English, others through Spanish and some using Spanglish.

The media mix must be old and new and there must be social and mobile integration. Most of all, the newsworthy content being pitched must be culturally relevant and tap into their core values.

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Mari Escamilla leads Marketing Maven's Hispanic Marketing Department.