How Black Friday Can Be Brown Friday

A Checklist for Winning Over Hispanics This Holiday Season

By Published on .

Lee Maicon
Lee Maicon
If you're reading this, then you're probably a retailer. Or perhaps you're a marketer who's thinking about how you'll manage to get that ever-elusive consumer to follow through in those last, critical few steps toward purchasing your product.

Hold on a second. Isn't that everyone?

This year, as with every holiday season, American retailers are activating the plans they've been hard at work to develop for months now, all in the hopes of winning the race that is Black Friday -- the magical day after Thanksgiving where deal-seeking consumers rush to malls across the country to buy, buy, and buy some more. In this season of gift-giving, family get-togethers and holiday happy hours, retailers and marketers are anxiously awaiting the moment when the tide of recession-red ink turns to black in their books.

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But in this Xmas shopping season (where x = recession), retailers need to be smarter than ever about how they'll come out ahead. As the largest minority group in the U.S. with a population of more than 50 million and a buying power expected to reach $1.2 trillion in the next year, Hispanic consumers are key to any retailers' plan for success. Whether you've already allocated a small radio buy in L.A. or N.Y. to drive in-store traffic, or have even put a few bucks behind a buy on Spanish-language TV, here are five steps you can take now to ensure your Black Friday doesn't stay red.

  • Get the right product mix and merchandising. A study last year by Ipsos and Microsoft showed that 89% of Hispanics would rather have a holiday gift that brings their family together, compared to just 64% of the general population. Spend some time to understand what your Latino customers want. Read product reviews, talk to the people who come into your store or visit your smaller competitors in high-density Latino neighborhoods. For instance, if you discover that Latinos are that much more into the Wii you just invested in, then be sure to merchandize that properly; make it prominent and use targeted advertising to ensure Latinos know that you carry the products they want.

  • Understand how we shop. Shopping is a social act for U.S. Latinos, much more so than the general market. As commerce is a celebration of the American dream for many Latinos, savvy marketers will look for ways to enable and encourage this experience.

  • Create a new ritual. With 40% of Hispanics unacculturated (as in recent immigrants), many simply don't know that they're supposed to start their holiday shopping a month before Christmas. This can be taught -- either by you or your competition. What the last 20 years of cultural evolution has shown us is that despite Latinos maintaining deep connections to our language and culture, we love the warm fires of the holiday season and have adopted them as our own.

  • Get the right team. Right now, retailers across America are hiring temporary staff to gear up for Holiday Season 2009. Do you have enough Spanish-speaking staff in key locations to be ready for the people who actually live near those stores? If you're not, then you should get started -- ASAP.

  • Talk to our network. There are more than 16 million Latinos online, accounting for roughly 56% of the Latino population in the U.S. How are you leveraging the portals like, Facebook, Twitter, and to drive Latino traffic to your stores? If you're not tapping into the social media networks, then you're missing opportunities to build your brand where the conversations are happening organically.
Lee Maicon is VP, head of strategy for Wing, a leading full-service marketing communications agency focused on the intersection of the U.S. Hispanic, Latin American and general markets.
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