Hispanic Marketing is About Understanding the Hispanic Culture


By ReachHispanics.co

Let’s be honest, I mean really honest. There is really no difference in the tools you’ll use to reach Hispanics online.

You’ll still use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. When you begin to rank for certain phrases in Google, you will go through the same steps.

Well, if everything is basically the same, then what is the difference?

The Hispanic culture is the difference. Now before we go any further, I want to note that not all Hispanics are the same.

For example, Cubans and Mexicans are probably not going to share what many people typically associate with the Hispanic culture. Hispanic culture is usually associated with things such as food, music and language.

However, I believe that Hispanics share many cultural elements and that is what makes them a targetable audience.

Dr. Felipe Korzenny defines culture as “a cluster of intangibles and tangible aspects of life passed down from generation to generation.”

Hispanic Culture

Based on that definition we can really begin to discover that culture isn’t just music, food, or any other single element of a demographic, but something much deeper and it is those sentiments that we want to understand in order to market effectively to the Hispanic community.

What are some unifying Hispanic cultural elements?


This is probably the most commonly noted cultural element when referring to the Hispanic community.

Familism simply means that Hispanic family members are interdependent and feel a sense of obligation to help their family.

Familism includes a commitment to financially and emotionally support family members. Also, decisions are based largely on pleasing the family.


Familism is in large part one of the reasons why Hispanics tend to be collectivist instead of individualist; many Hispanics grow up in very tight knit households where family comes first.

There is also plenty of research that backs it up. In a research paper entitled “Hispanic Familism and Acculturation: What Changes and What Doesn’t?
researchers found that “despite differences in national origin, Mexican, Central, and Cuban-Americans reported similar attitudes toward the family.”

So regardless, of the country of origin most Hispanics share this cultural element of familism.

Great! Now how do you use or incorporate familism into marketing?

Familism and Marketing

Understand that Hispanics value family. And when marketing to Hispanics, their needs to be more of an emphasis on the family than the individual.

One of the things you must be cautious about is to not overdo it.

Yes, you obviously want to connect with Hispanics’ famillism – but you don’t want to be cheesy.

Invest in some stock photography, or better yet, have a local photographer take some original photos of Hispanic families.

Again, don’t come off corny and stereotypical. Use your creative juices instead when incorporating a sense of familism into your marketing.


Fatalism among Hispanics means that they don’t have control over their future or their environment.

Often you will hear Hispanics say, “si Dios quiere” [if God wills] whenever referring to any seemingly uncontrollable circumstance.

This fatalism is heavy influenced by Catholicism and can be seen and heard everywhere from novelas to shopping centers.

In fact, in research done by professor Cardell Jacobson, he found that, “Hispanic Catholics were more fatalistic” then other Catholics.

It’s crucial to understand this sense of fatalism when marketing.

For example, on a Facebook page that I managed I thought it would be funny to post some humor about December 21, 2012 (you know, the day the world was supposed to end).

So I asked if people thought the world would end. Guess what the responses were like?

Fatalism and Hispanics

Below you can see that a lot of the responses centered on God and whether he desires to end the world.

Fin De Mundo

Fatalism in Marketing

Hispanic fatalism poses a few challenges for marketers.

For example, if you’re selling life insurance it might be harder to convenience a Hispanic family that they need it because they need to plan for the future.

However, if you explain the product as something that promotes the well-being of the family, then you’re more likely to connect.

You could also use fatalism to your advantage.

For example, as a spinoff of its national general market advertising campaign, “Mayhem,” Allstate introduced la “Mala Suerte,” or bad luck.

It plays extensively on Hispanic’s fatalism and is a pretty successful campaign.

Obviously, your business or organization doesn’t have to create a fictitious character but you can definitely take into account Hispanics attitudes towards life.

Soy La Mala Suerte Facebook


Respeto, or respect, is another cultural element that most Hispanics share. This includes a reverence for tradition and older relatives.

Respeto also dictates appropriate behavior towards others based on their age, sex, social position, economic status, and authority.

For example, older adults expect respect from those younger, men from women, adults from children and so forth.

Respeto in Marketing

As mentioned about, Respeto also includes a certain reverence for tradition.

Today, many marketers play on a “new generation” approach when reaching out to younger audiences. But if you’re targeting Hispanics, this may actually backfire.

So depending on the audience you are trying to reach, respeto will play a varying role.

For example, when reaching a younger Hispanic audience you can create a fusion of both traditional and contemporary elements. Again, the goal is to respect tradition.

For example, Being Latino incorporates both traditional and contemporary aspects culture into their design.

Being Latino

Knowing the Spanish Language is Still Important

Even though Spanish is becoming less of a factor with more English dominate Hispanics, Spanish still remains a unifying element.

In the US, over 75% of Hispanics speak Spanish to some extent at home. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a pretty significant percentage.

It’s also no wonder that when people talk about Hispanics marketing they almost use it interchangeably with Spanish marketing.

Spanish is also the easiest cultural element to misuse.

Often general market content and text has just been dubbed over and translated.

When that happens you sometimes get end results like this:

Bad Spanish Translation

Yep, a horrible translation. It’s basically translates into an incoherent statement like, “The no one jump of rocks.”

Obviously, this is an extreme case, but it can happen.

Spanish Language in Marketing

In marketing, make sure that the Spanish you’re using resonates with the Hispanic audience you are trying to reach.
Don’t assume that all Spanish dialects are the same.
For example, if your ideal audience is composed of Hispanic moms of Mexican decent make sure that the language resonates with them.

In a broad sense, Spanish can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Mexican
  • Caribbean (Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, and northern Colombia)
  • Andean-Pacific (Peru, Ecuador, western Bolivia, Colombia and western Venezuela)
  • Plata River (Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay)
  • Chilean
  • Central American (similar to Caribbean)

While there are some differences, the great thing about the Spanish language is that people from Spain, Mexico and Colombia can all communicate with relativity little difficulty. Yea there will be some differences but the foundation remains.

Hispanic Culture


Obviously their are more cultural elements that unify the Hispanic community, but I believe these are some of the larger and more encompassing ones.

But like any marketer, do your research with your ideal target audience before creating messages. Find out what resonates with them and what makes them tick.

These elements should just serve as a foundation, not words set in stone.

These are some of the cultural elements that I believe unify the Hispanic community, what do you think?


Categories: NGL News

4 replies

  1. Universal truths such as “being thirsty on a hot day”, are what makes the Coca-Cola creative posted, a total market campaign. There is a misconception driven by the economics of “specialized” marketers, media companies, that marketing to Hispanics is a highly-sophisticated discipline rooted in thoroughly understanding “familism, fatalism, respeto, language”. It really isn’t that complicated. It’s important, but it should not be siloed off to “specialists”. Marketers can also benefit from the greater effectiveness and better cost efficiency of the total market approach.
    Discovery en Español, is an example of a provider of content repurposed from general market, yet it has consistently surpassed the average primetime ratings of its competitors whose content is produced originally in Spanish. Why? Because it’s about TV content first, language second. Our content is universal. Shark Week works because it transcends language and culture. We are all curious about sharks in any language. Perhaps fatalism and familism explains Hispanics watching Shark Week in English and Spanish on our respective networks. The universality of curiosity and fear of sharks draws Hispanic and non-Hispanic viewers. That makes Discovery Communications a total market partner for those progressive marketers seeking to use universal truths to market to this new American multicultural reality.

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