A recent study by independent Hispanic agency, Orci, as reported in DMNews.com ( http://tinyurl.com/yc456da ), showed, “80% of US marketers say that the Hispanic market will impact their products and services in the next five years”. However, also according to the study, half of those companies are not even marketing to the Hispanic population, and 80% of those have no plans to increase their efforts in the next 12 months.


A recent study by independent Hispanic agency, Orci, as reported in DMNews.com ( http://tinyurl.com/yc456da ), showed, “80% of US marketers say that the Hispanic market will impact their products and services in the next five years”. However, also according to the study, half of those companies are not even marketing to the Hispanic population, and 80% of those have no plans to increase their efforts in the next 12 months.

Additionally, a study conducted last year by AOL and Cheskin showed that internet usage by Hispanics living in the U.S. has outpaced the total U.S. online population, closing the gap from 16% in 2002 to 13% in 2009. Yet even fewer businesses target Hispanics online.

There is still a real fear among marketers to engage the Hispanic population. I think there are three reasons for this: First, marketers don’t believe they understand Hispanic culture or have the appropriate resources to market to them effectively; second, marketers are concerned about alienating their “core customer” who is not Hispanic; and finally, marketers fear that this will lead to demands from other ethnic groups that they be marketed to in their own language and according to their own cultural preferences, causing marketing chaos.

However, the bottom line here is that Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., and the population is only going to rise. To ignore them is to ignore huge revenue opportunities for smart businesses.

Even companies that focus on B2B are missing the boat, as Hispanic run businesses are increasing along with the population.

From discussions I have had with the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino business owners are itching to become more engaged with non-Hispanic consumers and businesses. They also recognize the opportunities, but share similar concerns; in particular, language and cultural barriers.

It’s time that businesses stop fearing the inevitable, and start learning from one another.

At Goodwill, when we decided to begin actively marketing to Hispanic consumers a few years ago, I shared concerns about how our core shoppers would react. As a result, we were very gradual and methodical in our efforts, slowing increasing them over several years. Now we actively engage the Hispanic community through bilingual signage and direct mail, bilingual sales associates, advertising through Hispanic media channels, and the development of Hispanic social media sites. We even conducted a market research study to learn more about the shopping habits of Hispanic consumers (thanks to a terrific graduate student named Lorena Jordan from Johns Hopkins University), and gained some valuable insight that has improved our Hispanic marketing strategies. None of our efforts have alienated our core customers. As a matter of fact, the education and household income level of Goodwill shoppers in the DC area have actually risen over the past four years.

The AMADC is soon going to become a member of the Hispanic chamber, and leaders at the Hispanic chamber are going to become members of the AMADC. It’s time we begin sharing best practices across cultural lines for the benefit of all.