The Problem With 'Hispanic Insights'

They're Not All That Insightful

By Published on .

Tommy Thompson Tommy Thompson
All Latinos love music, soccer and food, don't they? These seem to be the "insights" all marketers have been leveraging into their Hispanic advertising approach for years now. The problem is that a lot of non-Hispanic segments also like music, soccer and food, and herein lies the challenge -- what insights should we use to adequately reach Hispanics? The key is to think about ways to reach this target as a segment rather than as a consumer.

At the end of the day, we are forced to debate whether these "Hispanic insights" are really that useful after all, or if they represent erroneous one-size-fits-all generalizations used to characterize the marketplace without any brand ownership. Instead, we should be asking, "Who is the Hispanic segment I am going after?" and "What are the actionable insights that are relevant to them that will inspire action?" The key words being "who" and "actionable."

Is talking about Hispanic insights vs. actionable Hispanic consumer insights just semantics? I think not. This represents a different way of looking at our role as strategists and the difference between being more effective and efficient in your efforts. This, in turn, ensures a higher success rate in connecting with the segment and having an ownable position within the target you are going after. While this probably sounds like Marketing 101, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own world that we forget that the fundamentals became fundamentals because they work.

This is more important now than ever given the growth the Latino population has seen and the results of a landscape where everyone is trying their hand at marketing with music, soccer and food. Allow me to pick on soccer for a moment -- watch a few hours of advertising and count how many soccer-themed spots you see on TV. And I am not talking about World Cup season or during the airing of soccer matches where contextually it makes sense. It almost seems that soccer is the only way to connect with our segment. What does soccer have to do with life insurance, for example? Are there really no other insights as it relates to Hispanics' need for life insurance that cannot be communicated without soccer?

I grew up in Latin America and was lucky enough to travel extensively throughout to visit family and even today for work, and the reality is that not even close to every Latin American communication piece is soccer-related, so why in the U.S.? Don't misunderstand me, I am not dismissing soccer. After all, it is the most popular sport in the world and loved by a large segment of Hispanic consumers, including yours truly, but it's quickly become just another "Hispanic insight" that we have used to death and has become a go-to theme for our industry.

There exists a responsibility that goes beyond that of agencies to look at the world of consumer insights differently and start evolving the conversation on what makes the target tick as it relates to the particular brand or category. I believe brands need to be open to this new way of thinking and not afraid when its agency partner proposes a different approach that may not fit the "Hispanic insights" that have been sold to them for so long. I invite everyone to start evolving the conversation from "Hispanic insights" to insights that are actionable and on target with the Hispanic segment that the brand is trying to connect with.
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