Even at mainstream companies, Latino audiences are driving marketing trends

04/02/2014 6:07 PM

04/02/2014 6:51 PM

Targeting Hispanics, Google will soon launch a new domain, called .soy (.I am) — another avenue toward reaching the vast, tech-savvy, Spanish-speaking market, a Google executive disclosed during a panel discusssion at the Hispanicize 2014 conference on Wednesday.

As Latinos have become a powerful consumer force and the fastest-growing users of mobile devices, major companies like Google are increasingly looking for ways to attract them.

“Latinos are about to create a revolution in technology,” said Eliana Murillo, head of multicultural marketing for Google. “If they can determine the presidential election, they can definitely determine the future of technology.”

Indeed, Hispanics, who are four times more likely to share branded content such as videos and commercials through social media, are driving trends on digital and mobile devices, said Murillo, during a discussion titled “Hispanic Market Trends 2014.” The panel was part of the Hispanicize 2014 conference at the InterContinental Miami. The conference, with about 1,400 attendees, is an annual event for Latinos in social media, journalism, advertising, public relations, film and music.

Hispanics represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, expected to grow 167 percent, from 50.5 million in 2010, to 134.8 million in 2050, according to the U.S. Census. That is in comparison to a projected 42 percent growth rate for the overall U.S. population during that same time frame. Latinos’ share of the U.S. population, in turn, is projected to jump from 16.9 percent in 2012 to 30.2 percent in 2050, Census figures show.

With skyrocketing spending power projected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2015, according to Nielsen, Hispanics are influencing companies’ marketing campaigns in myriad ways. The panel discussion, with about 200 attendees, looked at how major brands view the cultural and marketing shifts.

“Developing relationships with Hispanic consumers for us at Nielsen very important,” said panelist Stacie de Armas, vice president of community alliances, events and engagement at Nielsen.

Indeed, Latinos are expected to compose 40 percent of the net new households created in the United States during the next 10 years, panelist Jason Riveiro, multicultural marketing manager for Sherwin-Williams, who also spoke on the panel.

“We want to make sure we hit those consumers on the path to purchase,” he said.

Sherwin-Williams’ research has shown that multicultural customers will seek decorating inspiration online, for example, so the company has made sure its content is on its website and visible.

Brands are reaching out to Hispanics through other culturally relevant means, like music. Target has put the popular Colombian-born singer Shakira in its ads. It has also integrated cultural nuances into advertising baby products to better connect with customers, said Nydia Sahagun, group manager, brand marketing-multicultural at Target, who was also a panelist.

And employing social media is the way for Hispanics to share product information and stay connected.

“Oversharing — we always have [done that],” Sahagun said, laughing. “Now we can do it on Facebook and Twitter.”

Making content available on digital devices is key, she said, as Latinos are most likely to be accessing the Internet through smart phones and tablets.

Like the U.S. population in general, the youngest generation of Hispanics is being introduced to the Internet through mobile devices, not personal computers or laptops, the panelists said.

“You could have the most amazing content and not put it in the right channel,” Sahagun said.

Among Google’s efforts to target Hispanics are an initiative to encourage Latino-owned small businesses to launch websites, “Get Your Business Online con Google,” Murillo said. The program is part of a larger, nationwide effort to promote small business websites.

Next, Google’s .soy, which Murillo said is coming “in the near future” will be targeted at bilingual, bi-cultural Hispanics, and will have content in both Spanish and English, Murillo said.

Since Latinos are early adapters to technology, she also envisions Google Glass expanding in the Hispanic marketplace.

“I want to see what happens,” Murillo said, “when someone takes it to the barrio.”

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