What Does Hispanic Really Mean?

Why you may ask I keep writing on the Hispanic culture and everything associated with it in a translation blog instead of language?

Because for most translations that are associated with Hispanics or Latinos, one has to see how the language changes (despite being Spanish or Portuguese) into that particular culture and depending on the client, the audience that will be reading the text and from what particular country or region of same.

Also, the definition of Hispanic itself is quite misinterpreted and frankly what does being Hispanic really mean?  Cultural identity is so complex with so many factors that it is  not only language, because not being fluent in the language does make you less or more Latino than a the fully bilingual Latino; it is experiences, upbringing, education, and maybe even the integration of other nationalities within  your “Latino characteristics”  that may contribute to  incorrectly being labeled “Hispanic”.

I can identify with this idea of the Third Culture Kid (TCK) as in the video you will see below. I too can relate to this confusing definition of cultural identity and feeling that although you may be born  a particular country you don’t necessarily identify with your country of birth.  The idea of being ‘rootless’ –not knowing where you belong and how to describe yourself was a constant in my life and particularly when I moved permanently to the US because it always became a conversation starter in any social situation.

Just to give you a summary of how cultural identity can confuse and mess with you. I was born in the US to Cuban parents but raised in Brazil. I do associate with the Latino culture because of my parents but I never been to Cuba, I lived in Brazil most of my life and I love everything about it but I am not directly linked through blood or otherwise to fully say I am Brazilian. I live in the US now and although have assimilated  to American life, I identify with the Hispanic and Latino culture and generally gravitate towards everything “Latino”.


To answer the question, where you from is not necessarily easy for some, me included.  You may be born in a country, raised in another, have your formative years and educational years in another, speak their language fluently but still feel  that you don’t necessarily “belong”.

And the keyword here is belonging.

Hispanics as a whole do try to maintain these ties to their homeland not only because they  generally  live in multi generational households where their roots, customs and culture are continuously reinforced by their peers and relatives, but also  because they have a deep-rooted connection to family that regardless of your degree of acculturation and assimilation it is hard not to carry part of that identity with you particularly when it is so pronounced. Despite  being a 2nd and maybe 3rd generation Hispanic, how they define themselves and what do they really feel they are is truly their cultural identity.

 It is the family and deep-rooted connections that make up your identity and give you that sense of belonging.

This article although a bit dated from the Pew Research Center  explains this concept fully and although we may not fit the government label of Hispanic or Latino you are what you feel you are.

So in essence it is all these factors that have been brought together experiences, upbringing, education, and maybe even the integration of other nationalities  summed up that generally define belonging and as a result becomes what identifies them.

In essence, most Hispanics and Latinos refer to themselves through their country of origin rather than the  general “Hispanic” label.  I guess  the reasons are obvious no one truly represents a Hispanic culture but several facets in it.

The rest I  can say I am a citizen of the world. And proud. Although this ‘cultural identity crisis’ has been an issue for me, I have come to embrace it and has become largely the reason why I do what I do.

It is very difficult and unrealistic to pigeonhole people by certain characteristics to fit  the mold of what it is perceived to be Hispanic or any other ethnicity by using language, location and nationality into one, because we are the result of many cultures and sometimes one more than another.

I don’t know how many times I have heard this from people “Oh, but you don’t look Hispanic” or fill in the blank here. What are they supposed to look like?  As if that was not enough try adding race into the mix; a biracial/bicultural into the mix  could get even more complex.

Finally,  As if not looking the part wasn’t enough, some already assume that you may not speak the language fluently and they increase their tone of voice as if that would actually make you understand the language better (which is a way to demean you as well).

This one incident did happen to me and all I could think of is ‘If you only knew”.

I speak to many people and they still don’t know the difference between Latino and Hispanic and actually use the term interchangeably which would be incorrect.  In a brief note Hispanic refers to language; Latino refers to geography. As in ‘hispano-hablante” y latino- americano” Hispanic are all Latin American countries that are Spanish-speaking excluding Brazil (that is not) and Latino are all countries is Latin America including Brazil (because of its location).

I found two videos (there may be plenty more) but I have chosen these two because as I was listening to them, I could not only relate to them but understand (particularly in the last one) how everything does become part of your identity rather than a pigeonhole label.



Would this also apply to you?  I would love to read your comments.

Cultural Differences in Language Could Make or Break Your Marketing Copy

As you read in a earlier post,  translating taglines or slogans directly into a specific language does not only alter the meaning  or gets ‘lost in translation” but also their result may be truly disastrous, hilarious or downright offensive.

Yet these mistranslations from English to Spanish are pretty rampant and many, many blogs quite repetitively I might add have written and listed each and every sample of these blunders. However, none of them were able to discuss is what they would have done instead or how they would have corrected the blunder.  To me in many cases they are careless assumptions and most likely machine translations provided by Google Translate.

Yes most of these ad agencies do not have a diverse staff that would provide that type of information, here is the added value of a translator well versed and well-rounded in these cultural nuances would be of help. Sometimes even being bilingual and bicultural and being able to grasp the the nuances of the language and the cultural relevance needed to bring the message across, it becomes an incredibly difficult task. It involves creativity, ingenuity and a sharp wit to make a tagline stick into people’s mind and make it relatable to them.

Also, although knowing all too well that the client has the last word and sometimes disagree on your version, we can at least suggest correct wordiness to avoid these disasters.

So it seems.  

Funny enough the motor industry has had a few of them and not only in their ads but in their car brand name. I guess if you are Latino you would think twice about driving this car; or these not because it is not good but you do get the picture. This is a cultural difference that did break their copy!

After all, it is about cultural relevancy and awareness that makes Latinos respond to brands.


GlobalWebIndex identified 4 factors that Hispanics value and that should be in the minds of marketers when selling to the group.  All of these ties into the relevancy aspect and how they respond to brands.

Remember that when they feel they are represented, they can become the biggest ambassadors to your brand. Not only they are loyal; they will tell everyone about it through social media.

  • Authenticity and transparency in a product or service is important to Hispanics. A product that does not define, state the real purpose or intention is not something Hispanic value in brands. In other words, it has to solve a problem or get them to where they want to go.


  • They value products that are socially responsible. I have written on this point before as well a while back. They seek companies that give back to communities or that create possibilities and create a positive social impact. This is highly important to them.
  • It goes without mention that culture is important to them and although they are English speaking this is important to them. 35% of Hispanics say they prefer ads that reflect their culture. And 28% also say they prefer brands that feature Hispanic celebrities on English-language TV.
  • They are willing to spend more for quality (no surprise, we all do) but become but become more brand loyal when it is something that they value and says what they advertised (this goes back to point 1). Lastly although English is they primary language for social media interactions (78%), 56% state that Spanish is largely spoken at home, again the use of bilingual advertising is essential.

Since most of these factors are cultural in nature, the copy of course should be too.  These are just a few that when writing ad copy be integrated into it.  ¡Calidad, servicio, comunidad, familia y mucho más!

When searching the web (and they do  a lot of)  they still prefer their content in Spanish, particularly web content and read English only sites if they have no other choice.  Should there be a tab” En Español” they are more likely to click on that tab than continue with the English version.  You may see some examples here from ESPN en espanol. AdWords in Spanish is a good source too, they tend to search for the term in Spanish and ten revert to English information.

Furthermore, for Spanish consumers a Spanish domain would help them remember you more that would an English domain name. These domains  have  to be researched of course we may not want to end up in the same situations as these major brands that name their product cars after derogatory terms.

All of these hints may seem commonsense and simple yet they could not be farther from the truth. Why then they happen so often?  The reason? Cost.  The lack of diversity in ad companies and the company’s idea to have a more cost effective marketing is the reasoning behind it. However, I could understand saving money, we all do, but if you are directing your ad to foreign markets then I find it silly not to have people within the ad group to advice of how copy should be written or addressed and what factors of that culture you should emphasize.   Although marketers are taking note of this idea, it still does not resonate with many and still tend to use the one size fits all approach.

For this reason, even with the commonality of language there are cultural differences in language that can make some references offensive or even misunderstood.

The only similarities that bind these groups together are language and family and even their concept of family is broader than many for Hispanics, family is the nuclear and extended family together possibly in the same household.

Doing Hispanic Marketing the Right Way-Why Should You Target Hispanics in 2019

In January 2017, I wrote a similar post previewing the changes that would eventually happen in the field of Hispanic marketing and why it should be a demographic to closely look at and  what brands should be paying attention to generate sales from this group.

Two years later, and two weeks into 2019, using the same idea and the same structure, I would like to share how the demographic have changed and what is projected to reach this ever-growing demographic and why still within a two year span are marketers still not in the ball with this demographic. The numbers are there; their vision is not.


In December of 2016 it was estimated that the Hispanic usage of the WhatsApp alone was 45%.  Back then it was projected to increase by 62% (overall usage of smartphones in 2017).  Fast forward to early 2019 and by 2018 numbers, although it number varies by education levels and disposable income, it is generally at 77%


What Has Changed?

With several factors remaining constant as income and education levels, the three studies show that there was a consistent annual growth in usage and ownership.


Why is It Still Important?

When it becomes the sole instrument of communication, research, relationship building, entertainment, engagement and purchasing, it will be then the most effective and most productive way to reach them.

Back in 2017, I discussed that geo-marketing and that geo- location would be the way to target not only the Hispanic base but most all markets. Per e-Marketer spending for geo-location ads will top 38.7 billion by 2022, more than doubling 2017 figures.


Given that TV ads and billboards for the most part have been largely replaced by targeted ads directly sent to smartphone devices it is not surprising that this mode of advertising is projected to grow.

English Language Hispanic Targeted Content

What Has Changed?

Language is still important but culture is more. While most 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics are English proficient and acculturated their connection to their Latin roots is still prevalent and are more inclined to follow, buy, promote and share content that speaks to them culturally and if it is bilingual they are more inclined to share it.

This is a big factor for Hispanics, for most Hispanics who are US born, their affinity to their culture and everything that embodies it, is very important to them, third generation Hispanics value their cultural heritage through food, traditions, family values, and family name. Language came in 7th most important. This is also true when searching online. They search in Spanish for general keywords but research entirely in English. AdWords in Spanish is a good way to go too.

What Has Remained Constant?

Cultural connection and cultural relevance go hand in hand and most often is is defined by language and customs. Because this connection is important to them, language is important and should not be ignored in your advertising.

Cultural connection regardless of foreign born or US born Hispanics, is very important to them because of family’s connection to their homeland. This is ingrained by parents and reinforced by grandparents and although they have adapted or acculturated to US customs, they do preserve and are proud of their Latin heritage. Therefore, ads targeting the cultural relevance or that portray that specific group in a non-stereotypical respond favorably to ads.

Why Is It Still Important?

Hispanics value community and base their choices on other people’s recommendations. As stated above when they feel that brands cater to them they are very willing to recommend and share it with their peers and family.

It is what triggers their desire to purchase. It means that a brand is going the extra mile to understand and resonate with their culture. It furthers their loyalty to the brand and become mayor brand ambassadors to it by sharing and promoting their ads.



What Has Changed?

Latino populations generally concentrated in (link my post) in early 2017 were in The greatest growth in the  Hispanic population from 2010-2015 were  in the states of California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico 

By late 2018, the multicultural population (including Latino and Asian- another growing subgroup) was at 50% in Hawaii, District of Columbia, California, New Mexico and Texas, with Nevada, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona, Florida and New York, where Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Miami are already a multicultural majority.   Not only do more states account for more multicultural populations but that they account for about 50%

Growth by the Numbers

What Has Changed?

Source: Forbes

  • Hispanics’ spending is growing faster than non-Hispanic expenditure. Hispanics led CPG sales growth in 2017 with + 1.0% in $ change vs. a year ago, vs. only + 0.3% growth from Non-Hispanics. (per Nielsen Target Track, Total US xAOC, 52 weeks ending December 2017)
  • In 2018 this trend continued with a + 1.8% increase in Hispanic spending YTD vs. +1.3% from Non-Hispanics, a 33% difference! (per Nielsen Target Track, Total US xAOC, YTD ending 4/28/2018)
  • Out of 15 different departments within a regular retail store, 13 of them experienced growth from Hispanic consumers vs. only 8 that saw an increase from Non-Hispanic consumers. (per Nielsen Target Track, 37 markets, 52 w/e 4/28/18)
  • In 11 of these 15 departments, sales growth with Hispanic consumers outpaced Non-Hispanic consumers’ sales. (per Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending 4/21/18 vs YAGO)
  • From a geographical standpoint, Nielsen tracked sales performance in 37 markets. In 76% of these markets, Hispanic consumers’ sales growth was equal or stronger than Non-Hispanic consumers’ sales. (per Nielsen Target Track & Homescan, Total U.S. xAOC, 52 weeks ending December 2017) From Time to add Hispanic marketing… shopping cart. Forbes

Why Is It Still Important?

This is important because the numbers consistently show an increase in expenditure per year. Back in 2017, when the immigration crackdown began there were many articles that (I have a blog post on this subject) that stated that Hispanic consumption and businesses that relied on the Hispanic consumer were suffering mayor losses because many were afraid to leave home in fear or being stopped. These numbers disprove this notion entirely.



With all of this information at hand, what then is the ‘right’ way to reach them? Above all, why would I be interested in giving these facts and figures to marketers? Because to me despite of all this information and facts stated over and over again, there are still have a:


  1. Blanket approach to selling to them.
  2. Rely on bad translation and stereotypical images of Hispanics on TV, film, music and ads. (This is where I could really be of help to them)
  3. The notion that because 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics are fully bilingual and acculturated, they should be able to understand our system by now.
  4. Because rather that investing on a largely potential market, they find it too costly to do so because of the large adjustments that take to fully engage the audience in their ads.


Therefore, according to MediaPost the three takeaways that could be implemented in 2019 are:

  1. You have to implement and address multicultural marketing. Growth means incorporating diversity into your marketing.
  2. Implementation of diversity and multicultural marketing in all levels from beginning to end.
  3. They must invest in diversity. Most agencies spend less than 1% on multicultural marketing.
  4. Human interaction.
  5. Diversity, Diversity.                                                           

So in short, everything is connected to engage them; language, culture, customs, heritage, family and community. Embodying all this factors with a bit of creativity will go a long way with the Hispanic consumer.

Targeting the Hispanic Consumer through Corporate Social Responsibility or Cause Marketing

Hispanic millennials which as of 2017 figures  are 57 million strong, and  represent  18 % of the population, Latinos represent one of the fastest growing minority groups with an expected purchasing power of 1.8 trillion by 2021.

And although these figures are astounding, it is quite baffling how Hispanics as a market segment are still so undeserved with the total market approach applied to their marketing plan.


The total market approach tries to set a large net and see how many people it can reach while minimizing cost and maximizing profit.  It has been proven that this structure does not work with the Hispanic market because this group does not like to be sold to but will demonstrate brand loyalty if the brand caters to their cultural identity and identifies their needs.

For example, among millennials as a whole and Hispanic millennials included corporate responsibility or cause marketing rates very high on the list of priorities at work and as shoppers.


 Their employment decisions and shopping habits are centered on how much the company they work for or the products they sell are in some way “giving back” to a cause.

Corporations also know this and as part of their incentive to lure millennials to their business are establishing a platform for corporate responsibility. They realize that it is good for business as well.

The incentive to buy a product or be employed by  a company increases when the company is associated with corporate social responsibility.

The Renewal Project which studied studied thoroughly a group of 3,000 millennial respondents (all ethnicity and races) about their activism and the causes they support, The Latino group which totaled 19% of the total, mentioned immigration as the number one cause and civil rights and discrimination second.

So, how do you reach these millennial Hispanics?  By partnering with companies that practice social responsibility. 


  • As I see it, I find that every generation has the young, idealistic perspective of wanting to change the course and improve the world around them. Millennials are not different; what differs is that they are connected and for that matter highly connected to their smartphones able to research, disseminate news, make purchases button, and writing reviews on company forums.


  •  Their dependence on social media is especially true among Hispanic millennials where they can and do make decisions based on what they read online. They research and their purchases are highly influenced by what the read online, so it is not surprising that they are the biggest consumes of cause marketing far more than any other group.


  • On the other hand, Hispanic donors give more to “charitable” causes such as the church and to families back home in the form of remittances and culturally speaking they do not see donations to family or church as charitable, they see it as are responsibility towards community and family.
  • Given that not much money has been given to the institutions to advance their communities, they see these donations as a “giving back” to its community.  Partly the reason, why in the study mentioned above, immigration and education were the primary interests in social responsibility.

What motivates Hispanics to give and support Corporate Social Responsibility?

  • Many contributions are made with the desire to give back to the Latino community.
  • Including religious organizations and family, their interest are education and youth.
  • Donors give back to advance opportunities for Latinos and strengthen the American society.


Examples of Corporate Responsibility

  1. Univison Foundation



  1. https://www.hispanicfederationunidos.org





Will This Anti-Immigration Sentiment Affect the Hispanic Consumer?

To answer this question, the simple answer is yes and it affects  everyone in the Hispanic community.

This anti-immigration sentiment and raids have made the Hispanic consumer a bit cautious about their spending and avoiding altogether places and situations where they may be subjected to raids or being perceived as an undocumented immigrant.

Will this Anti- Immigrant Sentiment Affect the Hispanic Consumer?

After Trump’s victory in 2016 and his campaign promise of curbing illegal immigration, the large majority in the Latino community has scaled back in discretionary spending and is saving their income due to fear and anxiety about their future in the US.

So, to answer the question “Will this Anti- Immigrant Sentiment Affect the Hispanic Consumer? The simple answer is yes and it affects everyone in the Hispanic community; documented or non-documented and Hispanic and non-Hispanic owned businesses alike.

This anti-immigration sentiment and raids have made the Hispanic consumer a bit more cautious about their spending habits in fear that they might be the subjects of deportation; they keep a low profile and refrain from spending or even going on job searches.

 They purposely avoid places that can be subjected to raids or where they are perceived as an an undocumented immigrant, such as local restaurants, bars and other local businesses, in turn creating a great economic strain on the local businesses where the Hispanic community once thrived.

This decline in spending has not only affected the small Hispanic communities in border towns, but Hispanic marketing as a whole.

Given the importance of family in Hispanic culture, and that a large number of families have 2 or more members in the household, the 2nd    and 3rd   generation Hispanics, which are US born and part of the demographic that marketers love because it is a young growing demographic, social media savvy, have a big disposable income, and are eager to spend.

However, they themselves are ultimately affected and linked in one way or another, to a family member or someone’s family member that might be undocumented and need satisfy the needs of a person and the result is also to cut back back on spending. Ultimately for them, in these times the family oriented consumer stick to what is important: relatives and family. Its mistrust in the system, particularly with immigration, clusters them together as a whole.

By mid-2017, the retailers began to see decline in sales in certain products mostly purchased by the Hispanic consumer.

Industries most affected by the Hispanic consumer spending

  • Sportswear
  • Apparel
  • Footwear
  • Financial Services
  • Auto Sales


Companies that have seen sizable decrease in Hispanic spending.

  • Target
  • Walmart


On the flip side of things, Amazon has seen a large number of sales from this demographic and although the slow foot traffic to main stores like Target have been a factor, Amazon as a whole are taking steps to  attract this group. For example they have opened up Prime subscriptions in Mexico and have the Amazon interface in both Spanish and English.


Yet, although not mentioning the Trump administration per se and the immigration crackdown, Target CEO has seen a decrease in sales from the Hispanic consumer. Target is a variety store model and although they are not a food seller, nor a home goods store but 20% of it sales does go to food sales and most importantly the Latino consumer.  It also finds it hard to compete with Amazon and Walmart two of their main competitors in the home delivery. With the acquisition of Whole Foods and Walmart’s delivery, Target was poised to have a disadvantage, however, with their diverse model, not exactly a retailer, a food retailer nor a electronics department store (although they do carry all brands), they are poised to be the one stop for all.











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