Finding a Niche in the Hispanic Market for your Small Business
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
by Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. LLP
Book Summary Part 1 of 7: The Power of Business en Espanol, 7 Fundamental Keys to Unlocking the Potential of the Spanish-Language Hispanic Market by Jose Cancela
Marketing to the Hispanic demographic could pay big dividends to the tune of nearly $1 trillion in buying power. Additionally, the rate of growth for Latino businesses is three times the national average. These two million businesses account for nearly $300 billion in sales and the number of Hispanic businesses are expected to double in number every five years. Businesses wanting to cater to this ever-growing niche would need to know the culture and buying habits.
Regarding language, Hispanics all use the same dictionary. Creating a marketing campaign targeting U.S. Latinos only requires what the author terms “Walter Cronkite Spanish.” There is no need to cater to each dialect just as consumer medias don’t cater to West Coast, East Coast, or Southern English. As Hispanics from different regions integrate into the Hispanic U.S.A the need for differentiation becomes less crucial. Nevertheless, there are certain pitfalls for using general Spanish.
1. Literal Translation
Imagine if we were to translate the popular “Got Milk?” campaign into Spanish. The literal translation, “Tienes Leche?,” becomes a personal question of whether a woman is lactating. Another story comes from a now-defunct Braniff Airways which wanted to use the slogan, “Fly in Leather.” The ad was mistranslated to “Vuela Braniff. Vuela encuero,” meaning “Fly Braniff. Fly Naked.”
2. The Name Game
Mitsubishi had a popular SUV it wanted to market in Latin America and to U.S. Hispanics. It bore the name Pajero, a name still used in its Asian and European markets. However, pajero carries with it strong sexual connotations among the majority of Hispanics. Introducing the SUV in Latin America and the U.S. as Montero or “mountain man” was a wise move.
3. Speaking in Tongues
If bad translations mean bad business, as exemplified by the last two sections, then hiring a professional to do your translation would prevent both. Hire a professional translator who is a native Spanish speaker, has an education in translation, has lots of experience, and specializes in the industry of translation you seek.
4. Simple Pleasures
The principles in reaching your target market are the same whether in English or in Spanish. The keys to a successful slogan are its ability to reach the target market and its ability to motivate people to action. Successful slogans connect with the psyche of its target audience.
5. In Plain Spanish
Spanish is music to the ears of the Hispanic people. Deliver your message in the language that reaches the broadest audience within culture, context, and intention.
The next section will discuss the spread and reach of Hispanics in the U.S. or the Bebe Boom.