WASHINGTON — Some major companies are developing marketing strategies that target Hispanic consumers, a fast-growing and lucrative market in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Census, one in about every six U.S. residents is now Hispanic. Hispanics also accounted for more than half of the nation’s population increase over the last decade.
In July, more than 200 businesses attended the National Latino Family Expo, a consumer fair in Washington, sponsored by the National Council of La Raza.
Johnson & Johnson, Verizon Communications Inc., Wal-Mart Stores and PepsiCo Inc. were among the participants promoting their brands to the Latino community at the event.
Microsoft Corp. offered a gaming center featuring the Xbox Kinect. There was free food and product giveaways, a soccer clinic for children, and lively music and dance performances.
Hector Rivera, 30, one of the estimated 20,000 visitors at the event, said companies are making the right moves in approaching Latinos.
“It definitely draws attention to their product and even if you initially go there to get a giveaway, you end up getting some information about some companies that I knew nothing about,” Rivera said.
Toyota Motor Corp. was the title sponsor of La Raza’s annual conference — the car maker has contributed more than $1.5 million to the organization since 2002, said Sona Iliffe-Moon, a spokeswoman for Toyota.
“We have increased our marketing budget for Hispanic consumers over the previous five years,” Iliffe-Moon said. The company reaches the Hispanic market via TV, print, and digital advertising, out-of-home events and social media.
The car company’s campaign last year included almost 100 versions of decals representing every Spanish-speaking country and numerous regions within each. Iliffe-Moon said the company, in crafting its campaign, considered the unique sense of pride Latinos have in their heritage.
Financial experts say, the Hispanic market is complex — they are an ethnically and racially diverse population.
About three in four Latinos are U.S. citizens, according to the U.S. Census, and data by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that there’s a “dramatic increase” in English-language ability from one generation of Hispanics to the next.
Experts say marketers need to have a multidimensional understanding of Hispanic consumers to successfully target products to them.
“What we really need to be doing is identifying the product categories and product types in which Hispanics tend to differ significantly from [their] general market counterparts,” said Jason Molesworth, marketing strategist at Synergia, a consumer-research firm focused on the Latino market.
Fred Feinberg, marketing professor at the University of Michigan, said companies should do the “nitty-gritty work” to figure out “what [Hispanic] consumption patterns are, what their core values are, what they're trying to achieve by buying things.”