Reaching Bicultural Latinos and the Evolution of Media Outlets

by Andy Checo on November 22, 2010

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Mexican author, Octavio Paz once wrote I am not at the crossroad: To choose is to go wrong.” That is exactly the mindset of bicultural Latinos. We have no need to choose. We are from here and from there. We listen to Lifehouse and to Chino y Nacho. We are fans of football and of fútbol. Bicultural Latinos are a testament to a new Latino culture, shifting from one side to the other, from English to Spanish.

In public relations, reaching a target consumer is only effective if there are media channels available to connect with the consumer. Although social media has change this by enabling brands to build communities with a define target audience, it is still important to relied on traditional media outlets to engage consumers. Media outlets are evolving; no longer is a TV channel just a TV channel or a print publication just print publication. This new evolution of media should give us an opportunity to better engage with bicultural Hispanic. But are media outlets taking advantage of this opportunity?

Broadcast networks are a great example on how bicultural Latinos are starting to become the focus for industry growth.  While the English language networks are losing ground to Univision, those same networks are also the ones making the most effort in attracting bicultural Hispanics. For example, ABC has tapped into Salma Hayek, who executive produced Ugly Betty, an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Betty La Fea, for another project inspired by Argentinean series Los Roldan. In addition, the networks keep tapping into Hispanic talent like Sofia Vergara in Modern Family, Adam Rodriguez in CSI Miami and Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives to further attract Hispanic viewers.

By 2015 one-third of the 19 year old and younger US population is predicted to be Hispanic and the fact is that Hispanic youth is reached through relevant messages in their preferred language.  TV networks are beginning to understand that Hispanics live in both worlds. They are making an effort to draw bicultural viewers. From sprinkling Spanish in relevant programming, to incorporating Hispanic talent on events that pull high viewership, like this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which includes a full Spanish-language performance by singer Juanes, the first in the parade’s history.

Telemundo is now producing more original programming in the U.S. and its cable network Mun2 is gaining momentum with Hispanic youth. SiTV also provides relevant content to biculturals. However, for now, these networks are lacking the number of eyeballs for which marketers go gaga. Univision has the eyeballs but lacks programming which would attract the bicultural Latino consumers.

Implications for marketers

While the networks battle it out, marketers must implement diversified tactics when reaching Hispanics. The answer may not be bilingual everything. Language choice should be determined through the evaluation of each tactic based on the communication vehicle and its cultural relevancy for the community. Very few brands have become savvy or vested enough to put this into action.

What’s at stake

Hispanic currently have a $1 trillion purchasing power, truly connecting to them at every touch point of their lives could prove very rewarding. According to a report by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, the growth rate of the Hispanic purchasing power tops all other racial and ethnic groups as well as that of the purchasing power of all Americans combine. It is expected to reach 1.5 trillion by 2015.

Reaching bicultural Latinos is not as complex as some industry insiders may lead you to believe. I believe that relevancy and context are the two most important factors in successfully reaching this expanding demographic. Success lies in offering cultural connections to Hispanics. While the future may look bright for some Hispanic media outlets, if they do not adapt to reflect the new culture of Latinos in the U.S., their victory may be short lived.

In conclusion, as media outlets have important choices to make in order to prevail in reaching the bicultural Latino consumer, it is comforting to know that Latinos no longer have to choose between giving up language, identity or visibility to be a part of the American culture. Biculturals are the aspirational group among Hispanics, they know that embracing the two cultures enriches their own personal one and that to choose one over the other is to go wrong.

Andy Checo
www.andycheco.com || twitter: @andycheco

Andy Checo is a Guest Contributor, leave him a comment below.
A public relations professional at Edelman Multicultural, Andy is the founder and moderator of Hispanic PR Chat (#hprchat) on Twitter and authors the blog AndyCheco.com.

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