Study Reveals 'Cultural Tensions' Among Latinas

Opportunities for Marketers to Capitalize on 'Cultural Modulation'

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Chiqui Cartagena
Chiqui Cartagena
This week People en Español unveiled the top-line results of it annual Hispanic Opinion Tracker (HOT) Study, which this year celebrates its 10th Anniversary. This is the third major study conducted by a major media company on the changing role of Latina women in the U.S. and yet fresh insights are still being revealed.

"We didn't necessarily set out to prove anything," said Lucia Ballas-Traynor, publisher of People en Español. "We gather trends and concerns from our readers throughout the year and then focus the HOT study on what the consumers want as opposed to what marketers are looking for," she added. The HOT Study was conducted via telephone interviews with 1,750 respondents nationwide with representative samples of Hispanic women (1,000), women from the general market (500) and readers of People en Español (250). It was completed in April 2010.

And what Latina consumers want or need came out loud and clear. Like the other two studies mentioned earlier, the HOT study confirmed the finding that Latinas are becoming more empowered and ambitious. When asked "In what way would you like to grow and change as a woman in the next 5 years?," the top three responses were: 1) To get a better career or advance at work; 2) Continue education; 3) Become successful/become a professional.

What really differentiated this study from the rest, however, was the deeper understanding of how Latinas are "modulating between two cultures depending on their role." For example, in their role as "daughters," Latinas seem to be much more attached to their Hispanic culture (66%) than to the Anglo culture (11%). In the work environment, however, they are more attached to the Anglo culture (31%) than their Hispanic ethnicity (22%).

According to Stephen Palacios, exec VP of Cheskin Added Value, which conducted the HOT study for People en Español, this modulation between cultures and roles women play creates a certain tension and a need for guidance among Hispanic women that marketers should be aware of. For example, the HOT study found that 23% of Latina women (vs. 5% of general market women) said they "don't know how to dress appropriately for work." This finding clearly indicates there are huge opportunities for apparel brands and retailers to "help/guide" Hispanic women to achieve their goals of advancing their careers.

People en Español also announced the creation of a new tool for marketers to better understand how their creative is performing. The tool is called HEAT (Hispanic Ethnicity Attachment Tracker) and promises to measure the effectiveness of brand messages, spokespersons and overall positioning of brands in their print creative.

"If you really want to engage our readers, you need to make sure that your creative is relevant on a whole new level that is deeper than language or country of origin," said Ballas-Traynor. "We are still getting creative that is just a basic translation or uses a spokesperson that is not relevant to our audience or brand positioning that we think is off."

And that's a sad truth, which I know far too well from my days at Meredith. Brands "test" the Hispanic market by just running an ad, sometimes just translating it -- and when it doesn't work, they blame the market, not the creative.

Between you and me, this HEAT Index is a great way to see if your agency is doing a good job or not.

Chiqui Cartagena is the senior VP of multicultural marketing at Story Worldwide. She is also the author of Latino Boom!: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Business in the U.S. Hispanic Market.
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