How are Companies Branding to the Hispanic Market?

At this point, there is no denying the economic potential of the Hispanic market and the profitability that they may bring to company products.  I believe every company has that into account but have always wondered how to reach them effectively.  The total market approach of just translating material to and from Spanish or just employ the belief that will come and buy your product is a fallacy and they know that.

For this reason, some companies are employing Hispanic outreach and as part of their research and promotion.

Hispanics overall tend to like familiarity and value human relationships and professional relationships particularly when it comes to financial products.  Particularly in this field, they want to be comfortable in whom they are doing business with so trust and personal customer service is top priority for them.  Further, they are extremely brand loyal to those that they feel connected and valued; this bond extends to their shopping habits as well.

Having all this into account, brands are reaching out to capture the young, very social group with good disposable income.  Companies like Johnnie Walker and even Western Union are organizing concerts and inviting Hispanic celebrities to connect and expand their reach.

Also in the financial sector, companies like Merrill Lynch are promoting art fairs and open bar events to cater to the Latin American clients and prospects.  They cater to the wealthy Latinos that ae seeking new investment opportunities outside their countries and these art fairs is a way of catering to their culture to expand personal and professional relationships, which is what, Latinos love.

Back in In 2009 Kleenex campaign in” El mes de la Hispanidad”.  (Hispanic Heritage Month)  I held a contest of local artists that represented their Hispanic heritage.  The contest was called “Express your Hispanic Pride with Kleenex” or Celera tu Hipanidad con Kleenex.

This of course generated massive sales, interest, voting participation and promotion to a brand just by the contest itself.

Lastly,  the NBA through Latina “back in 2006 but in the 2009 season they hired Hispanic agencies read  in an effort to promote and appeal to Hispanic fans ,to translate the teams names in Spanish or more how would a Latino fan or refer to his team in their spoken language.  The result: The NBA teams jerseys read   El Heat, Los Lakers, or Los Suns.

The NBA is broadcast all over the world and has a huge following abroad not just in the US therefore reaching a larger audience.


Web Localization for the Latin Market


The first order of business of an organization trying to reach a target market globally is to first research were your markets are, what they look for , how they look for it and what makes them tick and what impulses them to buy your product.


In my target market, which is the US Hispanic market and which most research indicates that this group is the most active in social media channels and internet use, the study, which was done by Nielsen back in 2011, suggests that when an ad is in English only it does get views, but the same ad in Spanish the recall of the same ad bumps by 30%. The same result happened during internet use.


The ultimate lesson here is that regardless of acculturation and language proficiency, when you connect via culture or language, there is a far more response rate.  So language despite acculturation is still important to this group.


 Hispanics overall search the internet in both languages; the only thing that differs is what they search for; their interests and their needs.

Per the Nielsen study their primary searches are: Hair care, baby products and health and beauty.


If Latinos outpace in internet and social media use, how then do you reach and connect with them?


For the Hispanic market it is not only language but cultural connection


 In the same study, it was determined through interviews” They wanted more things that reminded them of home” by focusing more on diverse foods and improving customer experience.Therefore, localization (adapting the web text, usability and cultural references catered to   to your client’s best experience and conversion.







Web localization is more than just translating content. Everything from color, design structure, language, sentence order (yes, not all languages read left to right) and even flags (to designate a multilingual site and language capabilities) are important factors when designing a website. It involves structure, order, images, specific phrases and numbers.



  • First and foremost the thing to consider is what Hispanic group you are targeting. Just translating into Spanish won’t do. What is appropriate in one country it is not in another.  Also, as it refers to food items, one thing does not mean the same across cultures.



  • Making websites mobile friendly and and easily to access is important.


  • They are very brand loyal and shop from companies that speak to their needs and preferences and, yes their culture. If you have a presence in social media, they are more likely to shop from there (pages apps, so the ability to have both (apps or pages is imperative).


Per the study at the Integer Group the primary source for Hispanic shopping is the mobile device far more than PC’s and shopping in essence becomes a family affair.


Ultimately, Hispanics are prone to research first, locate and engage with the product online via social media (emphasis apps) and then most often buy the product at the store to feel, look and see the product they are buying  




  • Hispanics as the study suggests are more likely to buy when they are recommended or advised by a family or peer to buy a certain products and actually are personally involved during the back to school shopping for their kids or family members.



Now that you have localized the website for your target t market, the question is how do you optimize your   site for the Hispanic consumer?




  • One of the tactics would be to combine Spanish and English keywords based on the industry and interests that you want to target. Sometimes the Spanish keyword may not have that much competition or again may not rank as much but generating enough keywords in Spanish will make you rank and since there is little competition for them.


  • Research the target market and the keywords they use. Just translating into Spanish won’t do. Hispanics come from different countries in Latin- America, and the Caribbean. Terminology is different in each country and what it means in one country may not be in another. Research carefully. This is the localization aspect of the project.



When you want to have a presence in the international market, other than a group within your borders, there are other factors that may seem simple and obvious but very important that may break or make the deal.

 Mashable  explains how to beautifully succeed in Website Localization. It has great pointers but as a translator some can be a bit tricky to implement. One of them is the company’s tagline. Some of them do not translate well and others do not make sense at all.  However, keeping the company’s brand is imperative and recognizable so they have localized other factors in the website to make it user friendly and in accordance to cultural norms and tastes.


  • Within your brand image and logo incorporate images that are recognizable to the user and culture.
  • Flags- Normally are placed on the top margin to indicate the language translated to and from and can toggle to read both content.
  • Colors- In a global brand they keep the logo and color intact, you still want to keep that uniform. However, other color schemes may differ by culture. Use carefully because even color symbolize different things


  • Does your audience want a clean, accessible, easy to navigate website or are they seeking content information and visual aids


For example, Amazon has localized its websites for international markets in Europe, Canada and Japan and not only are they localized by language but by desired marketing and product specification. Yet, when it comes to the Latin market, it does not have a localized website for the Latino group; it does carry products in Spanish such as music and books but the site itself in in English.

In Globalization Partners international” Website Globalization and E-Business U.S. Hispanic Market – In Depth , they gave an excellent example of how companies are targeting this group.   ESPN Deportes has targeted the Latino group with this group’s favorite sport: soccer. The following is an example of how this company has segmented and localized to each Latino group



  • When to translate and when to keep it original. It depends.  If your slogan o tagline can  translate, then do so There may be examples that this may work and there are others where they choose to remain in the original language.  In my case , many clients choose not to translate to keep brand image.


  • Other website content of course but keeping in line with the target market and incorporating ideas that are important to them.


Finally, the  obvious but  generally overlooked.

  • Date and time difference
  • Color and Currency
  • Holidays


Looks simple enough yet, there are so many things to consider. Overall, you have to know your market inside out to make a connection.


You don’t translate words, you translate culture.




Cultural Connections make Hispanics Avid Social Media Users

Hispanics are very social and expressive and love to express themselves emotionally.  They are loud, friendly, expressive and show care by kissing, hugging and personal touch.  This is  a trait that carries largely  in all Latino cultures and yet  they are  extremely hooked to their  phones where none   of these emotions can be  “physically” expressed.  Because all the social networks like Facebook use images ,videos, emoticons and games to enhance the user experience and ‘ express via these resources their feelings toward a subject , an idea and the like there are large consumers of social media.

How does this affect verbal communication and language?

Because more than verbal cues the nonverbal communication is what  makes the Latino community (or many tick. They like to have personal and familial  relationships to those they do business with, relate to commercially as in business,  retail and food stores.  For it is this  personal touch and familiarity that evokes trust in whom they are doing business with.

This emotional connection is extremely important to Latinos.

Given these qualities  and this need, how does this relate to the social media world?  Because in every survey,  Hispanics over index  in social media use.

  • Firstly, there is an economic  reason as for the high usage, most Hispanics do not use a land line nor have one in their home . They do everything on cellphones and their social life is centered on their cellphone use.  They chat, take pictures, share pictues, share music files, they are big video streamers on their phone and  follow  and shop from brands that cater to them and  remain loyal to them .  It is the trust I spok about when they feel  they are spoken to or heard. That in itself become part of their social sharing. Cell phones become their  only way to communicate with friends, school and  for internet use.


How does this transcend to language and social networks?


Overall, as Latinos get more and more acculturated their use of Spanish decreasises and are more  comfortable using the English as their primary language. That is not to say that Spanish is not used at all.   This is clearly a generational issue as Pew Research center reported back in April yet the same article states that  Latinos regardless of  generation (whether US born or first generation Hispanic) agree that  learning Spanish is important. Yet, the use of Spanish  increases  lightly when Hispanics do certain activities. That is listening to music, watching TV and even thinking . Many still process ideas in their primary language.  And on an earleir study (2009) second generation Latinos identified themselves as their parents country of origin rather than identifying themselves as American.


This  lends itself to the importance of cultural ties, language and family. Despite  the level of acculturation these cultural ties are very present  and important to them and companies are taking note and in this cultural mesh  it is what companies are striving for to reach the Hispanic market.

Companies like Target and General Motors are establishing these outreach projects of using bloggers and influencers who have a background in the Latino community to embrace these cultural differences and  attract consumers  whether acculturated who are fully bilingual or the foreign born who mostly use Spanish.

There is a point where both cultures can exist together and create a large cross-over and using social media has become a way to reach them.  Since familiarity and personal relationships are important to them, when they embrace parts of your cultural identity, Latinos are sure to listen.


Language and Cultural Barriers in Health Services

Although this subject veers off a little from my market, I do find it important to discuss it here too. We tend to speak of the Hispanic market as a big marketing billion dollar potential, but there is however, other Hispanic communities that do exist that seem to fall through the wayside.

So is the case of immigrant Hispanic communities in most of the U.S. Unlike the acculturated Hispanics where they have far greater access to services and programs, these immigrant communities go extremely underserved   in one of many of their basic needs.

One of them is not only access to healthcare but also when they do; the ability to communicate effectively with their doctor is difficult when the person has limited English proficiency.

The issue of cultural and linguistic barriers in healthcare among Hispanic immigrant communities is  far too common in the US  and although by law a language interpreter needs to be provided for them, one is usually very difficult to find or not readily available. For this reason, and more often than not, parents rely on their children-usually a child or a teenage child to fill that need.

This of course has major repercussions not only because the child  or adolescent  does not have full understanding of what the doctor is asking but also  because that  puts the child in a position of relaying to the parent a serious diagnosis or interpreting to the parent what procedures will and will  not be covered by insurance. I do believe that that takes on extreme responsibility when you are a minor child.

I personally do not interpret, have tried many times, and to me it is the most difficult task there is so I cannot imagine that responsibility delegated to a child.

Therefore many go untreated and just see a doctor when the situation gets critical.  These facilities themselves are not staffed with professional interpreters that could help in the communication process and when they do the miscommunication makes matters even worse.

On the other hand, when parents need to care for special needs children their access to services, information and treatment becomes extremely difficult.   Funding for these programs comes from federal, state and local governments and usually does not get adequate funding for these services. Not only are they extremely undeserved because of lack of funds, they are readily available for people with very limited English proficiency. Most of the information (if at all) is available and written in English leaving these parents with very little access to them. When you have to navigate educational services, therapists, educators, and special placement in a language you are not fully proficient, the task is daunting for these parents.

 This is an area where I would participate simply because that information should be available to those that need it and in particular when special needs are concerned. Actually, through a family member I have become aware of this situation and with certain organizations that work with special needs to help others with this language barrier gets the services and information they need.

Finally, when it comes to elder care cultural and religious barriers play a role too. Generally, Latinos have a large sense of community and the care they receive is highly centered on not only in the nuclear family but well beyond the extended family.  The decision making process also extends well beyond the nuclear family and it is generally arrived through a consensus. Should they be ill and in a hospital, the patient would much rather hear the bad news from a family member than from a physician, or if the case may be to hear it with a family member present.

There is a traditional feeling of piety, where one sacrifices their own wellbeing for the care of the terminally ill. Women generally take this role and actually perceive it as more of a privilege rather than obligation or duty.  Latino extended families tend to be involved from birth to death and even care for the family even after the member has passed.

These customs tend to disappear in this society where both parents work and having to care for an elderly parent at home; it is usually ends up with a caretaker at home or a nursing home.  Here is gets worse when the elder person cannot communicate with her caregivers (in a nursing home in particular) and usually does not get the proper care she needs. So they are usually neglected and extreme cases abused. It is a cultural thing as well to never complain to the family so many keep quiet about their needs and even abuse which is rampant among the elderly.


On a Lighter Side… Translating Jokes..(Pepito is Bilingual Too!)

On a Lighter Side… Translating Jokes..(Pepito is Bilingual Too!)


It’s Friday and wanted to relax a bit!

In Latino culture regardless of nationality, if you did not grow-up hearing a series of Pepito jokes, you might as well have been living under a rock and although  to me not necessarily funny (maybe because I have heard them too much) the character’s sharp tongue and wit makes them all great punchlines.

Pepito a quick tongued, sharp wit little boy that makes every parent blush for his inappropriate questions and irreverent answers is the character that everyone laughs at because he says what everyone is thinking but  nobody would dare say publicly but would like to.

This character although the subject of many silly and childish jokes is also synonymous with Latino culture because Pepito or Jaimito (in other Latin American countries) embodies the problems, the struggles that persist and by using his wise crack persona many social and political truths and critiques can pass as humor; truths that could not possibly be verbalize only through Pepito.  For example: Like all Pepito jokes

Pepito, ¿qué tiempo hace un avión Habana-Cayo Hueso?

—Media hora maestra.

—Muy bien, ¿y un barco?

—Seis horas maestra.

—Muy bien, ¿y a pié si hubiera un puente?

—¡Uhhh!, varios meses maestra.

—¿Cómo?, ¿no te parece exagerado eso?

—No, maestra, ¿usted sabe lo que es ir dando codazos?:

permiso, permiso, permiso.

Chistes de Cuba sobre la revolución pg. 83

English Version

A schoolteacher in Havana asked her class:

“If the sea between Cuba and Miami were to dry up, how long would it take to walk across?”When she got no response, she asked Pepito to give an answer…
After a moment of thought, he said, “Forty days.”
The teacher was naturally surprised.
“Pepito,” she said, “the distance from Havana to Miami is only about ninety miles.
Maybe I didn’t make the question clear.
Pretend that it’s all smooth and level ground.
NOW how long would it take?”
Pepito insisted however on his answer of forty days.
“But why?” asked the teacher.
“Well, because you would constantly have to say,
“`Excuse me,’ `Pardon me please,’ `Excuse me, sir,’ `Pardon me Miss,’ `Excuse me…’

Whomever translated the joke had the same idea but changed the wording a bit. What happened  to the direct translation “if there was a bridge from: It would have been truer to the original …. Anyhow, this one not necessarily funny but it explains the critique through humor.


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