“Being a Latina and an American for me is all one. I’m a Latina all the time, and I’m an American all the time. There’s never a separation there.”
That was actress Diane Guerrero of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. She was featured by Marriott for its global marketing campaign #LoveTravels and in the video that you can watch below she managed to epitomize with her statement the way most US Hispanics see themselves in terms of aspiration.
US Hispanics are comfortable living among different cultural influences; therefore, they are consumers who defy convention. It’s difficult to fit them into a persona. As Alejandro Ruelas, cofounder and CMO of LatinWorks, suggested to Ad Age, not many agencies—even those with a Hispanic focus—have the keys to reaching the Hispanic-American consumer market, especially millennials. He knows well. His agency created the award-winning Marriot campaign, a model for the Latino market that was launched in 2014 and is still producing great content.
“Today, the influential Hispanic millennials not only claim their role as Americans,” Ruelas said “but they refuse to do it at the expense of their Hispanic background.”
Let’s dwell for a few minutes on #LoveTravels to find out how brands can more effectively reach out to US Hispanic Consumers in the context of marketing transformation.
#LoveTravels with Diane Guerrero, Diego Boneta, Boyce Avenue, and Taj Reed
“Some people travel for vacation, to get away from it all. I travel to get to it all,” Guerrero says in the #LoveTravels video. By “get to it all,” she means visit her family. She was born in the US, unlike the rest of her immediate family. When she was 14, her brother and parents were deported to Colombia, their country of origin, while Diane stayed in the US with family friends.
Her experience of living between two different realities is similar to that of many other migrants—but what transpires from her words and the statistics alike is confidence in their being part of both.
As the Pew Research Center reported, although 41 percent of Latinos say they have serious concerns about their place in America with the new administration, more than half state they are still confident. They definitely have good reasons to be, and one of the most important is this: according to Nielsen, US Hispanics constitute a population of 57 million with a purchase power of $1.5 trillion a year, and they will make up 29 percent of the US inhabitants by 2060.
Here’s some additional data that marketers need to have in mind when thinking about Hispanic consumers, their identity as both Americans and Hispanics, and the importance of social media in their daily lives:
Image attribution: Think with Google
“We love what we do—playing music—and when we tour, we’re taking that love on stage to all these different places.” – Boyce Avenue, #LoveTravels
The members of Boyce Avenue, the YouTube sensation with more than 9 million followers, were born in the US and grew up in a “household that was very Puerto Rican.” In the #LoveTravels video, one of them says: “We love what we do, playing music, and when we tour we’re taking that love on stage to all these different places.”
Through their words, marketers can also get a sense of the two two game-changers for Latino-Americans.
First, global marketing transformation will not slow down its pace. The same way that Boyce Avenue “takes that love on stage to all these different places,” yet only needs YouTube to grow its base, suggests that the decrease in Hispanic ad spending and the rapid adoption of content and digital marketing is going to continue in 2017. If a band only needs digital content to become as wildly popular as Boyce Avenue has, it follows that your brand could stand to gain the same.
Second, maybe it’s time to start shifting the focus from millennials to Gen Z—the generation to which so many of Boyce Avenue’s followers belong. This year, a large proportion of Latino Gen Z-ers will be over 18. It’s hard to overestimate the extent to which these people will change Hispanic marketing.
Diego Boneta, a Mexican idol you might remember for his role in Scream Queens, has passports from the US, Mexico, and Spain. In the #LoveTravels video, he notes that he’s happy to “be able to understand and connect [with American and Hispanics alike]. Not necessarily be one or the other. Be both.”
Where Guerrero speaks with passion about immigration reform, Boneta about being a proud citizen of the world. But the message marketers need to hear is the same: Hispanic audiences do not have to be either one thing or the other. They don’t need to fit neatly into a single mold. They can proudly embrace multiple cultures. They can “be both.”
What do brands need to know to tap into that emotional core of the Latino audience? Simply put, they need to recognize the fact that knowing this complex and evolving market—100 percent American and 100 percent Hispanic—is of the essence. The #LoveTravels campaign was born from that idea. “This is a moving target,” Alejandro Ruelas said to Ad Age. “People used to refer to it as the new American mainstream, but we refer to it as the evolving American mainstream.”
An American woman whose whole family has lived in Colombia since she was a girl; a Mexican-Spanish-American actor as comfortable in the skin of an upstart LA musician as he is in that of a Mexican soap opera hero; three US-born Puerto Ricans who made their fortunes in the no man’s land of YouTube. It’s a modern family that keeps growing in number and diversity, as you can see in the new versions of the global campaign.
Today’s US-Hispanics do not comprise the mainstream audience marketers are used to. Maybe it’s time to think of diversity not in terms of niche, but opportunity. Diego Boneta said it beautifully: “I can play a Hispanic character, and I can play a Caucasian or whatever. It definitely was a challenge at first being able to play both. Now, I feel like people in the States and in this business are seeing it not as a weakness but as a strength.”
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