Latino Men: Why the Original Metrosexuals Should Be Attractive to Marketers

Univision Study on Hispanic Men's Grooming Habits Is an Eye-opener

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Chiqui Cartagena
Chiqui Cartagena
Over the past couple of years, a ton of research has been released about the power of Latina women. And honestly, the focus on Latinas was long overdue. But while women are, no doubt, important to marketers, we seem to have lost sight of our men. Hispanic men, after all, make up 20% of the total U.S. population and while they may not have total control of the Hispanic "purse strings," they do have a say in what is bought for the household, especially when it comes to personal care. So the research shared by Univision last week felt like a breath of fresh air.

During an invitation-only breakfast at the Bryant Park Grill in New York, Univision Senior VP-Corporate Marketing Ruth Gaviria unveiled the results of a new study* called "Why Latinos Look So Good" and moderated a panel discussion on the subject with marketers and TV personalities: Cristian de la Fuente (who is hunkier in person than on TV, if you can believe it!); Univision's own Giselle Blondet; David Salazar, multicultural manager for Target Guest Insights; celebrity stylist Samy; and Daniel Villarroel, assistant VP-experiential and diversity marketing, Maybelline New York/Garnier.

As a Latina, the findings totally resonated with me. I've always known that my men love to "primp and groom." They just like to look good. I don't know if it's that "Latin lover" thing, but gay or straight, Latin men do the whole nine: mani-pedi, hair, cologne. It's what this study called celebrating their "vanidad" (the good kind of vanity with a small "v") over "machismo."

I believe Latin men have always been "metrosexual" -- long before the term was ever invented. In fact, Cristian de la Fuente shared a story about how his dad wore pink shirts and groomed his hair with expensive hair products 25 years ago! And while we Latinos know this at the gut level, this study should be a major "aha" for marketers in the personal care/grooming categories.

Among the surprising results revealed was the fact that 34% of Latino men shower twice a day vs. 16% of non-Latino men. Now, that statistic can be partly explained by the fact that Latinos predominantly live in warmer areas of the country (mainly the South and Southwest) or that their line of work may require a second shower in a day. But who cares why? All I hear is ka-ching! Calling all marketers of soap, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, after-shave, face cream, etc.

According to Univision's Marsha Sanor, VP-client development group, Nielsen AdViews estimates the men's grooming category spend to be around $380 million, of which only 10% goes to Spanish language! Do you hear a clue-phone ringing? Hello?

Clearly, most marketers are not capitalizing on the opportunity. Let me share some more facts from this study. Not only do Latino men over-index almost 2-to-1 in their weekly usage of hair styling products, moisturizer and fragrance, a whopping 68% of Latinos say price is not a driver in their decision making process (vs. 49% of non-Latinos).

It doesn't have to be a World Cup year for you marketers to see that it might be worth investing some of your advertising dollars on our men. In fact, when you do spend some money, it seems to pay off. "When we give visibility to national brands that over-index with our Hispanic guests, we see better performance," says David Salazar of Target , citing work they've done with Degree for Men, among others.

Now, Unilever is one of the companies that gets it. In addition to being the official sponsor of the Mexican National soccer team, Unilever has consistently been putting major advertising dollars (TV, online, grassroots events) behind Degree for men in the Hispanic market for years now. The payoff, according to Mintel's latest report on Hispanics and Personal Care (January 2011), is loyalty from 20% of Hispanic men.

And when it comes to fragrance, forget about it. I can smell my friends one block away! Sadly, according to celebrity stylist Samy, with the exception of Macy's, most marketers and retailers don't let men feel comfortable buying men's cologne. From packaging that comes across as too feminine to actually making it hard to find men's fragrance product in stores, you are leaving money on the table.

Oh, and by the way, how about making travel-size frangrance bottles? Maybe then you will keep Cristian de la Fuente from sneaking into the duty-free shops when he flies to "spritz" on his favorite cologne after landing. BUSTED!

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. Follow Chiqui on Twitter @chiquicartagena.

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* The Univision study was conducted by CBB Bilingual Qualitative and Simmons and included both quantitative (600 telephone interviews nationwide) and qualitative (12 focus groups in three cities and five in-home ethnographies).

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