If you’ve conducted any market research in the past few years, you know that Latinos are a demographic you cannot afford to ignore.
They’re not only the second-largest ethnic group in the U.S., they’re also younger than other ethnic groups with a median age of just 30, according to the Pew Research Center. Any brand that wants to reach Millennials or Gen Z must position themselves to appeal to Latinos—but often, American-based brands just don’t know how.
I wanted to talk to someone who doesn’t just know the demographic but IS the demographic. Kevin Leyes is a 20-year-old Argentinian entrepreneur who’s already founded three companies, and managed to continue scaling even during the pandemic. He’s the founder of the urban jewelry brand, Team Leyes; a social media marketing firm, Leyes Media; and the collaboration and social assistance app Ayudar, which connects donors and volunteers with organizations in need during the pandemic.
Here’s what he had to say.
Q: What are some characteristics of Latinos that most brands don’t immediately think of?
A: It is very important to keep in mind that Latinos are clearly a different market in terms of interests and priorities. Here’s an example of that.
In 2014, T-Mobile and Univision decided to target Latinos with new non-contract mobile service. The company basically launched a service specifically for Hispanic Americans, which offered unlimited text and free calls to Mexico and specific countries in Latin America.
It may sound like a basic example, but this company knew how to put itself in the shoes of the target client—a Latino, knowing his priorities and his typical family and personal situation. They’ve decided to actually adapt to this market and specific target, and it’s led them to success.
Here is the key: When you’re looking to bring value to Latinos, or any target market for that matter, begin with empathy, and always with the idea of solving people’s problems.
Q: What’s the most important thing brands should begin with to start reaching young Latinos like yourself?
A: First, they need to innovate by including Latino talents and culture in their brands and marketing.
That starts with influencer marketing. Having mentioned artists and influential public figures, 46% more young Latino consumers discover brands via celebrity endorsements than Latino consumers in older generations.
Also, 88% of digital-using Latinos pay attention to online ads that include aspects of their culture.
Research every single country you’re planning to target. Learn their cultures and interests. Talk with natives. Execute A/B tests.
With time, you’re likely to find out that some specific products or services are easier or faster to sell to specific countries or customers and clients from there. You may want to not exclude the others, but focus on these by applying the 80/20 Pareto principle.
I also highly recommend you focus on campaigns that are actually centered on Latino culture. Get involved and investigate their stories, but this is also really important: make sure to avoid stereotypes.
Q: What about mobile? Are there any differences as far as how a brand should approach mobile marketing when trying to reach the Latino population?
A: When it comes to the digital world and social media, Latino millennials are 66% more likely to connect through their cell phones. There is a reason for this, and it turns out that Latinos are more likely to be in constant communication with their families and people in other parts of the world, all a product of multiculturalism and migration.
If brands and companies are specifically looking to target a young Latino demographic, they can have excellent results by focusing on the mobile versions and implementing ads that generate interest and interaction.
I also highly recommend influencer marketing. Recently and increasingly, people are connecting less and less with brands and companies, and instead connecting with personal brands and the people or celebrities behind them.
The important thing is that influencer marketing is all based on that human connection, which Latinos value very deeply.
Q: What about using “Spanglish”? Is that allowed, or is it just pandering?
A: As a Latino and a lover of the incredible cultural enrichment that exchange with people from other parts of the world provides, I can say that seeing ads where English and Spanish languages are mixed generates a feeling of being at home, even more so when a certain slang, or more typical Spanglish phrases or quotes are used.
Clearly many people who are not Latino may find it strange or even in some cases offensive. This is where targeting is very important to getting successful, beneficial results for the company.
As Leyes emphasizes, targeting Latino Millennials requires more than just adding a Spanish-language soundtrack to your Instagram Story. By focusing on the individuals behind the “Latino” label, as well as the specific culture of the demographic you’re targeting, you’ll be better able to bring those customers to your brand the first time, so you can build that long-term relationship.