Great Ideas for your Small Business: Tap the Growing Hispanic Market
Some of the 2000 census figures have the U.S. Hispanic community feeling new strength. The numbers show a population growing faster than expected and more broadly distributed than in years past.
“Best of all,” says George Herrera, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “it’s a young population, which means it’s a population of consumers who will be here for a long time. We are offering corporate America a very young and very long-term consumer base.”
The Census figures released in March 2001 indicate that in twenty years Latinos will represent 20 percent of this country’s youth. In 1997 they were 16 percent of the nation’s 69.5 million people under the age of eighteen.
A young and growing population represents an increasingly significant economic force, Herrera says. Corporations on the ball already are moving to serve this market. Others will follow. “Hispanics in this country have a purchasing power of $348 billion,” Herrera says.
One way to test sales in the Hispanic market is to partner with a Hispanic company. Another way is to repackage your products to appeal to Hispanic tastes. But this takes an investment and careful planning.
Savvy business owners wanting to expand sales into the Hispanic market should always rely on a competent translator. One major Los Angeles bank had egg on its face a few years ago when a loan campaign aimed at Spanish-speaking clients went awry. When translated into Spanish, the ad copy said something like: “Remember when your mom used to steal money from you? Think of us as your mom.”
A mortified bank representative told the ad agency that the newspaper advertising salesperson had messed up the translation. So never trust your translations to an amateur. Be sure to hire someone familiar with the local dialects and who knows the cultural nuances of the specific Latin community you want to reach. Mexicans speak a different type of Spanish and have a far different culture than Salvadoreans or Panamanians, so make sure you carefully target the market.
Many ad agencies now specialize in ethnic marketing, so find a good one in your area and try test-marketing one product or service.