Striking a Balance with Hispanic Consumers


tom_kadalaOpinion: General Market Consumers are Acculturating Too!
When considering the potential revenues to be gained from a rapidly growing and diversified Hispanic consumer sector, most budget-minded companies assume that over time Hispanics will eventually respond to ad campaigns in the same manner that general market consumers have done for decades. Recent evidence of the slow Hispanic consumer response shows that companies subscribing to this theory are beginning to get frustrated.

To support their position before their corporate clients, ad agencies often refer to a ‘soft’ metric called acculturation. Acculturation measures the various levels of Hispanic consumer acceptance and assimilation within the general market. Thus, the higher the level of acculturation the more a Hispanic consumer/employee will act and react as a Caucasian.


From a current issue of Advertising Age (May 9, 2007), an article titled, “Get Connected with Latinos in Nuevo America,” by Cynthia McFarlane and Laura Semple (from Conill Advertising, Inc.), demonstrates that Hispanic ad agencies who are feeling the ‘heat’ from their corporate clients have responded by replacing their “acculturation” buzz word with a new one, “interacculturation.” Unlike the term acculturation, interacculturation measures the potential blending between both cultures whereby the new American consumer will act and react part Hispanic and part Caucasian.



One can only imagine senior management’s reaction when they learn that their current ‘wait-and-see’ strategy for Hispanic marketing may be failing. Some CEO’s may even go as far as considering their current general marketing campaigns as inadequate and opt for drastic changes to keep in line with the new trends defined by interacculturation. Not surprisingly, the frustration levels among these leaders are reaching an all time high.


At a recent Hispanic marketing panel discussion attended by senior-level managers of a Fortune 100 company, Hispanic marketing experts offered a wide range of solutions. For example, on the one side, a panel member recommended going back to basic Marketing 101, discarding the need for any specialized solutions; while another suggested implementing culturally-specific marketing campaigns at a localized level, supported by primary market research. If the new trend is to monitor an interacculturating process among consumers, perhaps the optimal solution provided by the panel experts may lie somewhere in-between these two opposing strategies.

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