Business Translation Center

How to Market Effectively to Spanish-speaking Countries and Hispanic Consumers

by OFER TIROSH 09/10/2019

At just 6 cents per word, Tomedes offers the lowest agency translation rate from English to Spanish or Chinese. Not only do we translate, but we also localize, making us the ideal agency for companies that are looking to do business effectively overseas. 

Marketing 101

“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.”

So speaks marketing guru Pam Moore. Her quote emphasizes the value of connecting with people at a personal level when it comes to marketing activities. That means understanding local values, customs and beliefs and then shaping marketing content to gel with them. 

It’s something that every company seeking international success needs to address. It’s not sufficient to create a single marketing message or campaign and then expect it to resonate with vastly different audiences, simply because it’s been translated into their language(s). Marketing translation services have to be more subtle and nuanced than that, because consumers themselves are so incredibly nuanced. 

Is your company looking for international success? If so, read on for some insights into how to localize your marketing campaign in order to achieve it. 

Marketing to Hispanic Consumers 

Marketing to Hispanic consumers is a great example of the complexities of reaching out to consumers with cultural differences. 

In fact, do you mind if we go off on a quick tangent here? There is a distinct difference between Latino and Hispanic, so it would be helpful to understand both terms better before we carry on. 

The term ‘Hispanic consumers’ refers to all those who are of Spanish-speaking descent. The term ‘Latino consumers’ or ‘Latina consumers,’ on the other hand, refers specifically to people of Latin American descent (including people from Brazil, who speak Portuguese rather than Spanish). 

The point being, even understanding the correct terminology – whether to use Hispanic vs Latino – is something that companies need to get right before they seek to engage with Spanish-speaking customers. 

Swamped with other priorities? We made a video just for you that sums everything up

Spanish Speakers Around the World 

Mexico is home to the world’s largest Spanish-speaking population, coming in at a cool 130 million people. According to that font of all modern-day knowledge, Wikipedia, it’s followed by Spain (with 47 million Spanish speakers), Colombia (45 million), Argentina (44 million) and the United States (40 million). 

That latter is in the midst of a sustained Hispanic population boom. The United States Census Bureau reports that Spanish speakers in the US increased from 34 million in 2006 to over 40 million in 2015 – growth of 18% in under a decade. 

Whether you are marketing your products and services in Spain, Latin America or the US, understanding the needs of those you’re hoping to sell to – and then using a first-rate localization company in order to reach out to them – is absolutely essential. 

Understanding Hispanic Consumers

The first thing to understand about reach out to Hispanic consumers is that that goal in itself is flawed. The Hispanic community is too diverse to connect with through a single marketing campaign. You can’t just translate your marketing content and hope that it will appeal to customers in Spain, Mexico and the US in equal measure. Even within the US itself, the country’s sheer size and geographical diversity means that Spanish speakers in Texas (for example) will respond differently to marketing tactics than those in, say, California. 

Not convinced? Well, consider this: 

• 46% of the Hispanic population in Texas identify as Hispanic, while 8% identify as Latino. 

• In California, 30% see themselves as Hispanic, while 17% identify as Latino. 

This is just one difference, but it highlights the complexity of taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to marketing to Hispanic customers. 

Localizing Spanish Content 

Of course, it would be impossible (well, possible but certainly not cost effective) to localize marketing content to suit every single regional variation. Instead, when developing a strategy for marketing to Spanish-speaking customers, it’s important to use localization services to look at key regional differences. 

Some of these relate to language. Are you familiar with some of the differences between US versus UK English? If so, it’s easy to appreciate the differences in European versus Latin American Spanish. There are even differences in how words are used across the different countries of Latin America, as well as in the US. 

It might not be cost effective to account for all such differences, but broadly localized content that take linguistic considerations into account is always a good starting point. 

Localization applies to imagery too. Does your website contain beautifully localized copy, but still use images of people who are clearly non-Hispanic? If so, you’re missing a trick. Make sure that your images are localized just as well as your copy is. 

Spanish Translation Services

When it comes to using a Spanish translator, be sure to seek out a marketing specialist, rather than a more general, all-purpose translator. That way, the individual providing your professional Spanish translation service can become a source of advice and guidance, as well as undertaking the translation work itself. Someone who has an in-depth understanding of how Hispanic consumers in a particular region tend to respond to different marketing tactics can quickly become an invaluable asset! 

Account for Demographic Differences 

When marketing to any particular audience, it’s important to understand the behaviour patterns and differences that apply to that demographic. Google Hispanic Marketing Forum reported in 2015, for example, that 88% of Hispanic consumers will pay attention to online adverts that include a connection with their culture. 

Meanwhile, eMarketer reports that Hispanics use their mobile devices for three hours per day – more than an hour longer than non-Hispanics – while eight in ten use a digital video subscription service (Netflix, naturally, is the most popular choice of service). Most interestingly for marketers, Hispanics tend buy more through their phones, and less through computers, than non-Hispanics do, creating a powerful need to ensure that mobile content is optimised for Hispanic audiences. 

Hispanic Consumers and Language Considerations

Have you assumed that all your marketing materials will need to be in Spanish in order to attract Hispanic consumers? If so, think again! 

While Spanish would be the appropriate language for connecting with customers in Spain and Latin America, eMarketer reveals that English tends to be the preferred language for digital usage by Hispanics in the United States. Spanish is still important, but an increasing proportion of the Hispanic population in the US were born in that country, meaning that English is just as important – if not more so. 

Savvy marketers who really drill down into the mood of their audience might even try mixing the two languages, just as we’ve seen happen in television series such as Orange Is The New Black. With such an approach, it’s important still to remember the value of keeping imagery firmly Hispanic-focused. 

Using Cultural Celebrations as Part of Marketing Strategies

Another key component of a well localized marketing strategy is the recognition of cultural celebrations. On 12 October, for example, Hispanics around the world will celebrate Fiesta Nacional de España (in Spain)/Día de la Raza (Latin America)/Columbus Day (the US). The day marks Columbus’ arrival in the New World, with each country celebrating in its own way. 

October 12 is also the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar, meaning that it is of dual importance to many Hispanics. Understanding cultural events and celebrations in this way is essential for companies that are looking to court Hispanic audiences. 

Final Thoughts

Is your business ready to take on the Spanish-speaking world? If so, which countries have you localized your marketing strategy for? What did you find most interesting about the process of doing so? You can share your experiences by leaving a comment below!