1.  Forget What You Know About Hispanics

I understand that stereotypes were created to help us categorize and make sense of the world that surrounds us. But what happens when that world has changed? Historically, marketing to Hispanics included things like poor translations, sombreros and maracas all executed around Cinco de Mayo, a perceived holiday for the Mexican community. Today, Hispanics expect more from brands if they want to win their consumer loyalty. We want to see an accurate representation of our role in U.S. society, not a perception that we ride burros and wear ponchos. So look at the world around you and consider Hispanics’ contribution to music, entertainment and even government when defining the consumer portrait.

2.  Hablo Ingles

The majority of U.S. Hispanics speak English and Spanish at varying levels. However, it is no longer necessary to translate every campaign to make it culturally relevant. In fact, some campaigns are smarter in their original language and fall flat when translated. Consider the recent commercials from Wells Fargo and Campbell’s soup. They are both English-language executions anchored in Hispanic insights. They are smart, emotional, humorous, relevant and reflect the true lives of Latinos in the U.S.

3.  I Am More Than a Demographic

Consider the following: My favorite TV shows are “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Good Wife” and “House of Cards.” I listen to KISS FM through Sirius radio on my drive to work. And the last concert I went to was Madonna. If you are trying to reach me by only targeting Spanish-language outlets, you won’t find me there. It’s not to say Hispanics aren’t consuming those outlets; of course they are! But the point here is to expand your media considerations beyond language. Think beyond demographics and use psychographics to understand Latinos. Take into account interests, buying habits, lifestyle, etc. to create a profile that allows you to understand motivations and attitudes. By doing this you will realize that not all Hispanics are the same, allowing you to target your campaign accordingly.

4.  Contextual Content That Resonates

When it comes to content, online video is key! I recently attended Hispanicize, where I heard a panelist say that no one reads anymore. As an avid book reader, I was somewhat surprised. However, it’s true. Anything that comes in short-form video catches my attention, regardless of language. As long as the content covers one of my interests (see psychographic comment above) I will watch it, from makeup tips to quick-and-easy recipes and previews of my favorite shows. These short videos, which I enjoy on my cell phone, connect me with brands.

5.  Shopaholic Anonymous

There is a perception that Latinos shop in large groups. While that may be true of unacculturated and older Hispanics, the tech-savvy generation loves to shop online. In my case, for instance, I’d rather spend time enjoying my family than cruising through retail shopping aisles (with the exception of Target). Thanks to apps like Amazon Prime and Instacart, I am able to get all my shopping needs without sacrificing time away from my husband and daughter. I know a lot of other Latina friends who shop the same way -- after all, where do you think I learned about Instacart? Brands looking to understand Hispanics’ shopping behavior should think beyond brick-and-mortar stores and look online to see what we’re really consuming.

As the face of the nation continues to change, so should the way brands approach marketing. Latinos have inserted themselves in all aspects of American lifestyle (music, food, entertainment, sports). To overlook that and lean on any cultural stereotypes (including media preferences) would be a big miss for marketers.  Instead, brands would be wise to broaden their scope and recognize that the best way to connect with Hispanic consumers is on our turf … and that will vary based on our interests.

Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.