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Marketing: Specialized Outreach
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How to Reach the “Hispanic” vs. “Latino” Market

One of my clients asksed me if the term “Hispanic” and “Latino” should be used interchangeably. He also asked if his company needed special marketing strategies to reach those segments of the population.

What’s the Difference between Hispanic and Latino?
Businessmen in Clock ShopHistorically, the term “Hispanic” is derived from the people of the Iberian Peninsula, including Spain and Portugal. The term “Latino” is derived from the people of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and most nations in Central and South America where Spanish is the spoken language. This is because most of them were once colonies of Spain (except Brazil). “Hispanics” are European and respond to European culture. While Latinos also speak Spanish (except Brazilian who speak Portuguese), they have a different cultural background and therefor another cultural approach is needed.

Are Special Marketing Strategies Needed to Reach Each Segment?
As a better business practice, a company may want to consider cultural nuances between the two segments when planning their outreach efforts. Keep in mind that all “Latinos” are not the same. Because the Latino community is so diverse, there are many cultural characteristics that should be considered to gain a better understanding of this market. Only then will you be able to identify the groups within this market that you should target and effectively tailor a message that resonates with them.

Latinos are now the largest minority in the United States. To successfully reach this market, your company must cultivate employees who relate to the unique needs and preferences of this demographic.

Erika Cruz, Guest Blogger
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Discussion (1) Comment

  1. Lauri JordanaVisitor

    Thanks for this post, Erika. It *is* a really common question. I typically answer it similarly in terms of technical definition–although I think nowadays they’re used more interchangeably–but I think there’s another layer we should add.

    The term “Hispanic” was coined the U.S. Government for purposes of the Census, whereas “Latino” is a term used more often within the culture itself. There is a sense of pride (and even political activism, sometimes) in the term “Latino/a.”

    I know Latinos/Hispanics who hate one term or the other, or both. Others are fine with either, or don’t really care which you use, if you have to label them.

    In the end, most Latinos/Hispanics wouldn’t identify themselves as such, but instead from their countries of origin, for example “of Colombian heritage,” or “Mexican American,” etc.

    Hispanic/Latino are labels that help government, marketers and organizations pool a group with similar (though not exactly the same) linguistic/cultural traits in order to make efforts more efficient.

    Most companies we’ve worked with, and that I’ve worked with on the corporate side, are really only able to devote marketing/media/messaging to the Spanish-dominant group as a whole, using a more neutral Spanish versus appealing to any particular dialect. Not ideal, but better than alienating any of the audience if you don’t have the resources to do more segmented work.

    Erika, I absolutely commend your suggestion that companies pay attention to their own employee base and, if they’re interested in the Latino/Hispanic market, they need to make sure that Latinos are represented internally for starters!

    Thanks again!
    Conexión Marketing


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