Communicating with the Hispanic Teen Market

A few years ago, Jeff Manning, the executive director of the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB),was considering ways to reverse a decline in milk sales in the heavily Hispanic southern California market. As he reviewed a report on the Latino market, a potential solution to the problem came to him: target one of the fastest-growing market segments in the United States, which is Hispanic teenagers. The results from the 2000 census show that over the past decade the Hispanic market grew by 58 percent, compared with only 3 percent for the non-Hispanic white segment, and another 35 percent jump for Hispanics is forecast over the next 10 years. Moreover, the ranks of Hispanic teenagers are projected to swell to 18 percent of the U.S. teen population over the next decade, up from 12 percent in 2000. Nearly one in five children born in the United States today is of Latin American descent, and more than half of all children in Los Angeles alone are born to Latino mothers.

While marketers are recognizing the importance of appealing to the Hispanic market, they are also finding that communicating with this fast-growing segment can be very challenging and requires more than creating an ad in the Spanish with tried-and-true Hispanic themes. They have to decide whether to use ads with a Hispanic-focused creative, dub or remake general market campaigns into Spanish, or run English-language ads and trust that they will be picked up by bilingual Hispanics. Contributing to the challenge is the fact that Hispanic teens often live in two worlds: one rich in traditional Latino values, such as strong commitment to family and religion, and the other in which they eagerly participate in mainstream teen America. They bounce between hip-hop and rock en Espanol; watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer with their friends and Spanish telenovelas (night-time soap operas) with their parents; and blend Mexican rice with spaghetti sauce and spread peanut butter and jelly on tortillas.

Advertising and marketing executives have different perspectives on how to best reach these "young biculturals." For example, research Manning conducted for the California Milk Processor Board on targeting English versions of its popular "Got Milk?" ads to Hispanic teens found that they reacted enthusiastically to the ads. The CMPB had considered doing the ads in Spanglish (a combination of English and Spanish) but found that the language used was not a major issue for teens, as they reacted to ideas, not language. However, a 2000 study of Hispanic teens by the Roslow Research Group found that advertising to bilingual Hispanics in Spanish is significantly more effective than advertising to them in English. English ads were 28 percent less effective than Spanish ads in terms of

English Ads

ad recall, 54 percent less effective in terms of persuasion, and 14 percent less effective in terms of communication.

The California Milk Processor Board has decided that it is important to develop ads that appeal to bicul-tural teens. Recently its ad agency worked with Latino students from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to develop a commercial based on a Hispanic cultural myth that has long been used to scare kids straight. When Hispanic kids misbehave, their parents threaten that La Llorona ("the weeping woman") will come to claim them. Basically she's a boogiewoman for bambinos. In the spot the ghostly figure, clad in flowing gown and veil, wails as she wanders through a house. Walking through a wall, the specter enters the kitchen and opens the refrigerator. Rather abruptly, her tears terminate. "Leche!" she exclaims, lunging at the half gallon of milk needed to wash down the Mexican pastry she clutches. But sadly for La Llorona, the carton is empty, so the tears resume and the "Got milk?" tagline appears.

While the La Llorona ad targets bicultural teens through mainstream media, it relies on only one word of dialogue and thus may appeal to non-Hispanics as well. In fact, marketers are finding that by targeting Hispanic youth they may also attract the more general teen market. Many have noted the tremendous popularity of Hispanic entertainers such as Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Shakira, and their crossover appeal to non-Hispanic teens. As one agency executive notes: "It's very cool to be Hispanic at this age. It almost makes them more attractive, exotic."

Sources: Becky Ebenkamp,"A House Lacking in Lactose? Intolerable," Brandweek, Jan. 21, 2002, p. 23; Jeffery D.Zbar,"Hispanic Teens Set Urban Beat," Advertising Age, June 25,2001, p. S6; Rick Wartz-man,"When You Translate 'Got Milk' for Latinos, What Do You Get?" The Wall Street Journal, June 3,1999, pp.Al, 10.

Four others are the major communication functions and processes: encoding, decoding, response, and feedback. The last element, noise, refers to any extraneous factors in the system that can interfere with the process and work against effective communication.

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  • tesmi
    How to market to hispanic teens?
    5 years ago

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