Social media opens doors for “mama y papa” businesses

We have read the news and are aware of the hype – Latinos continue to rock in the social media world. Likewise, recent statistics indicate Hispanic small business owners continue to grow in influence as well. Case in point, a quick drive down the Latino dominant Grandville Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one will pass several locally owned “mom and pop” businesses; party stores, restaurants, bodegas, taquerías, and salons. Although we have seen plenty of professional and acculturated Latino businesses embrace social media, what kind of value can it deliver for local “mama y papa” businesses?

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A new multicultural reality

I am a big fan of Mexican-American singer Lila Downs and her music. So naturally, I was quite inspired by a recent video of her (above) where she was interviewed not only about her music, but also about her life experiences growing up as a bi-cultural individual between the U.S. and Mexico. As someone who also grew up influenced by both Caucasian and Mexican-American backgrounds, Downs’ interview delivered some resonance for me. Even though I cannot equate my own experiences with those of Downs, many of her reflections did ring with a certain amount of familiarity. This motivated me to consider the many multiracial and multicultural individuals in our communities and what they mean for us as a nation. Results from the 2010 Census have revealed that the multiracial populations increased by 50% (to 4.2 million) over the last decade. This has made multiracial individuals the fastest growing youth group in the U.S. Are we on the verge of a change in the way people view themselves within the context of race and culture?

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Para tu salud – Health and wellness in Latino communities

Last month I participated in a focus group that sought to collect feedback from various local communities and residents. I was invited as part of a group that gave insights about health and wellness in relation to Latino communities in Grand Rapids and West Michigan. What I found interesting were the parallels between most of the participants’ answers when it came to the subject of access to health care for Hispanic families. Many that recognized Latinos in Michigan underutilized health care and it was often a challenge to connect Hispanic individuals with the value of ideas like preventative measures and health education. Listening to the feedback, I was inspired to consider how marketers can use cultural relevance to break down barriers between education and access to health care for Latino communities.

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More Latino families will soon be attending college graduation parties

Several years ago, my wife and I went to the college graduation party for a son of one of her close friends. The young man being honored had just finished a degree in criminal justice from Grand Rapids Community College and was the first in his family to pursue higher education. After proud family members and close friends gave him a standing ovation for his efforts, he composed himself and thanked everyone for attending. I recall the how the conversations that day revolved around him being a pioneer in his family. I also wondered if we would begin to see more Latinos like this young man pursuing higher education. A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center would seem to answer my question. Perhaps more Latino families, like the one above, will soon be attending college graduation parities.

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Book review of Latino Link by Joe Kutchera

This past spring I had the pleasure of reading the book Latino Link by online Hispanic marketing expert Joe Kutchera. Latino Link explores the online world of connecting brands to Latino consumers and communities. Kutchera himself has extensive knowledge and experience in this arena and his book offers a wealth of valuable marketing strategies, leading case studies, and relevant cultural insights. Latino Link is Kutchera’s fist book and is published by Paramount Market Publishing, a leading book publisher for multi-cultural business interests. Several months ago, after I tweeted that I completed reading Latino Link, Kutchera asked if I could write a review. I have finally been able to put my thoughts into a blog post.

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Recognizing Afro-Latino perspectives

Back in February, I wrote a post about the African influence in Latin America. The effort earned some attention and since I have wanted to write a follow-up post on a related topic. While my previous contribution dealt with the perspectives of Afro-Latinos in Latin American nations and history, I was recently inspired by a re-post from the blog New Latina. Blog contributor Tracy Lopez wrote an in-depth interview with three Afro-Latinas who give their personal reflections of what it means to be a Latina of African decent. I found the interviews both engaging and revealing. In addition, I believe the reflections from Afro-Latinos(as) are important insights to consider for organizations seeking effective outreach to Hispanic communities.

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The importance of indigenous Latin America

My wife and I took a vacation to the beautiful Canadian city of Toronto recently. We found that Toronto boasts having some of the finest collections of Inuit art and sculpture. The Inuit, who represent the indigenous populations of northern Canada, have maintained many of their traditions and customs for generations. Inspired, I couldn’t help think about similarities with the indigenous populations from Latin America. Like the Inuit, these populations have had a significant impact on the culture and customs of Latinos. As marketers, when we seek to connect with Latino populations, we should consider the values and beliefs held by the indigenous and understand their perseverance in Latin American culture.

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Chris Queso interviews Latino Branding Power

Once again, I was honored last month to be interviewed about the topic of marketing to Latinos. This time Chris Craft, owner of Nao Media in Columbus, Georgia, facilitated the Q&A. Chris recently started is own personal blog dedicated to branding and marketing called “Chris Loves You”. The interview was the first post of Chris’ new blog and coincided with a previous interview I did for Nao with his associate Yu Miyagawa. Thanks again to Chris “Queso” for his support.

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How important is language for Latinos?

Spending time with family this past summer, I was made aware of how multilingual Latino individuals can be. My mother-in-law came to visit from Puerto Rico a few weeks ago and we all gathered for a cookout one day. It was interesting to see the various ways everyone would communicate and interact. My mother-in-law practically spoke all in Spanish. My wife, who grew up both in Puerto Rico and the U.S., easily toggled between English and Spanish. The younger generations, who spoke primarily in English, would occasionally try their hand at Spanish with our visiting matriarch. Yet, despite our various levels of bilingualism, we all able to share together as a family. Assuming our family is just as common as many other Latino families, to what extent should language determine how companies and organizations connect to Hispanics in the U.S.?

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Nao Media interviews Latino Branding Power

I recently had the honor to be interviewed by the Columbus, Georgia marketing firm Nao Media & Consulting. Nao Media is the brainchild of Chris Craft and works in the fields of music, sports, and information technology. We spoke about inspirations from my journeys to Mexico and Puerto Rico, the development of Latino Branding Power, and future plans with Hispanic marketing. With permission, I have re-posted the Q&A session with Nao Media consultant Yu Miyagawa.

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Connecting to the Spanglish speaking market

Last year while on route to Puerto Rico, my flight itinerary stopped in Miami for a layover. Sitting in the airport terminal, I overheard pieces of a conversation by two young Latinas. They spoke toggling back and forth between English and Spanish with ease. It was a great example of “Spanglish” being spoken fluidly between two completely bilingual and bicultural individuals. A conversation in Spanglish often ebbs and flows with little grammatical rules and few predictable guidelines as to when one tongue should be spoken versus the other. This creates a unique challenge for marketing professionals seeking to connect with Hispanic audiences. Although Spanglish is used frequently among many young Latinos, is it really possible for brand messages to communicate in this dialect?

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Latin-ize your world

Powered by the 2010 Census results, there has been some buzz around the Hispanic marketing arena about what the rapid growth among U.S. Hispanic populations will mean for the future of marketing to Latinos. Traditionally, Hispanic advertising has been seen as a niche-marketing specialty. It was primarily driven by a need to customize brand messages to an under-represented Latino population that spoke Spanish. However, recent insights are now challenging this concept as well as the whole idea of demographic based marketing in itself. One popular fact to emerge from the Census found that over half of all children under two are non-whites. This generation will fuel tremendous growth and change in the U.S. population over the next thirty to forty years. Recent reports also indicate that younger Latinos are language neutral – having neither a preference for Spanish or English. They do, however, value bi-culturalism and being both parts U.S. and Latin American. If Latinos are set to become such an integrated part of the U.S. population, regardless of language, should they really be referred to as a niche market?

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Branding your Latino kissing cousin

When seeking to connect with Hispanic communities, it is important to consider the various factors that determine how Latinos view themselves and the world around them. The diversity of Latin-American cultures and nationalities, the use of Spanish language, and levels of acculturation in the U.S. are just a few of these factors. Insights based on these can resonate with Latino audiences and deliver value. This also implies that marketers should develop distinct and relevant brand messages for Hispanics. But what is a brand to do when Latino branded messages appear to be in conflict or too differentiated from the general market brand message?

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No es igual: differentiating the Latino market

I recently accepted a chair position for the marketing committee of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HCCWM). During a recent meeting, we discussed the breakdown of the HCCWM’s membership base. Roughly half of the organization’s members are “general market” businesses seeking to connect with the region’s Latino customer base. The other half consists of Hispanic business owners. Of these, half are bi-lingual and acculturated to the U.S. way of life but still have significant connections to their Latino roots. The other half consists “recent arrivals”, primarily immigrants from Latin American that are Spanish dominant. We had a good discussion about how we will need to differentiate the HCCWM’s marketing strategies to appeal to these various members.

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Taking Latinos to the bank

A University of Virginia study finds banking opportunities among Latinos

 

Last month I wrote a blog post about how banks and financial institutions can better connect with Hispanic clients. Despite a general mistrust of banks among Latino populations, I suggested there are many overlooked opportunities. My main example was the money transfer business, a lucrative market because many hard working Hispanics in the U.S. send funds to support families in their home countries. In addition to remittances, what other options exist for financial institutions? Recently, I was pleased to see a study by the University of Virginia that also suggests there is lost opportunities within the Hispanic market for banks and credit unions.

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Free advice for retailers

Last year I completed a professional certification in Hispanic Marketing Communications through  Florida State University. Since 2009, the F.S.U. Hispanic Marketing department has offered a course that is geared primarily to working professionals. It was a great opportunity to augment my credentials and I would highly recommend the course to others. For a final class assignment, students were asked to study a particular company or industry and develop a comprehensive Hispanic marketing strategy. For my assignment, I choose Grand Rapids based retailer Meijer, Inc.

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